Thursday morning in Whippany, New Jersey was a scorcher. Minutes following Barça’s first training session on U.S. soil during this, their 2017 summer tour in the United States, two players, still drenched in sweat as the midmorning temperature here continued to rise, emerged from the main building and sought refuge in one of the few slivers of shade available.
“I’ll play wherever the coach asks me to play,” said the midfielder and full-back Sergi Roberto, as a battery of American reporters angled for position—and a brief respite from the suffocating humidity—with their Spanish counterparts. But despite his openness, there was one small caveat: “I want to get minutes.”
He may very well get his wish, pointing out that with the arrival of Nélson Semedo, “there are more players at full-back.” But despite having trained in the midfield during Thursday’s session, the issue of where the 25-year-old Roberto will play is still very much up in the air.
Jasper Cillessen, Barça’s second-year Dutch goalkeeper, fielded queries about the team’s preseason in both Spanish and English. “He’s incredible,” Cillessen said, referring to new manager Ernesto Valverde.
The 28-year-old Cillessen, however, doesn’t feel the added reps give him an advantage over Ter Stegen as far as who the starter will be when the regular season opens.
Cillessen’s main goal is a simple one: “I want to train hard and show the coach what I can do.”