Tito Vilanova / PHOTO: MIGUEL RUIZ - FCB

The FC Barcelona manager highlighted the players that he envisions being key to the team’s success in the upcoming season as well as players that need to improve from last year. The manager, for example, is confident that players like Alexis Sánchez, who had a lot of injuries last season, and Cesc Fàbregas, who recently won the Euro, will have an even better second season with the team. Tito Vilanova also admitted that he’s very pleased with the recent signing of Jordi Alba.

Here are the comments made by Vilanova on the first-team players:

Leo Messi:

“He’s doing great, he’s one of the players that takes physical conditioning very seriously, and now is the time to get in shape. He’s aware of the importance of the preseason.”

“Each day he’s a more complete player, he helps the team on defence, he’s the first to start pressuring up high, and he can still improve.”

Alexis Sánchez:

“Alexis is a very important player for us, the Club really pushed hard for him a year ago. He had a series of injuries that stopped him from having continuity but I’m convinced that his performance this year, even though last year’s was very good, will be even better.”

“Alexis is young, with room to grow, and his injuries stopped him last year, this year will be better.”

Jordi Alba:

“We are very pleased with Jodi Alba’s signing, it was a priority. The fact that he had a brilliant Euro campaign makes us think that we didn’t make a mistake [in signing him].”

“The fact that Jordi Alba is going to the Olympics doesn’t disrupt our plans. He’s young, and he was very excited to go to the Games, chances are he won’t have another opportunity like this. The only thing I’m concerned about is that he might not get enough time to rest.”

“Time will tell if he had enough time to rest, but I completely understand the national team manager wants to take the best possible team to the Games.”

Cesc Fàbregas:

“Winning always lifts morale. His second year will be even better than his first. We saw that he’s more comfortable playing in a 3-4-3 system, he can also play as a false 9. I’ve known him since he was a child and I know that he’s very self-demanding, when he played in the 9 position (center forward) he had the feeling that he was playing in the traditional 6 position (creative midfielder - like Xavi, for example).”

David Villa:

“It has been a pleasant surprise. I saw him train before his holiday and it’s obvious that he’s worked and improved a lot. We all hope that he can recover as soon as possible, but we can’t rush his recovery, because the most important thing is his ability to play once he fully recovers.”

Ibrahim Afellay:

“Afellay is a great player with a lot of quality, but he sustained a serious injury. We need to see how he feeling during the preseason.”

Gerard Deulofeu:

“We’ve known him for years. He has a lot of potential and his style of play makes it very obvious. But we can’t rush the issue of his promotion [to the first team], his place is in Barça B and he needs to improve aspects of his play - it’s a question that only he can work on, it’s about his performances.”

Bojan Krkic:

“He’s a fantastic player, he was promoted when he was young. Whenever he’s been given the chance to play, he’s put the ball in the back of the net.”

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