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Kessie talks Xavi, Pedri, Fati, Gavi, Yaya Toure, El Clasico, Barcelona future



Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images

Franck Kessie’s move to Barcelona on a free-transfer was a great piece of business by Joan Laporta’s board. The Ivory Coast international was one of Serie A’s best midfielders ahead of his move to Catalonia. Moreover, he was just 25-years-old at the time and had the better part of a decade left at the top level.

However, things did not go to plan for Kessie in his initial months at the club. With players like Gavi, Pedri, Sergio Busquets and Frenkie de Jong ahead of him in the pecking order, he found it difficult to see playing time.

The wait was worth it for the former AC Milan man, for an acute injury crisis at the club at the beginning of the year forced Xavi to field him more often. Kessie took his chance with both hands and continues to improve with every passing game.

His season peaked with his goal against Real Madrid in the Copa del Rey semifinal on a special night where he should have had a memorable brace.

Kessie spoke to SPORT and Mundo Deportivo earlier this week and addressed a number of topics including his move to Barcelona and his unique celebration. Here are the snippets from his interview.

On his special celebration routine: “I celebrate my goals with a military salute to honor my father, who was in the military. I lost him when I was very young, but I know that he’s proudly watching me somewhere.”

On the difference between Barcelona and AC Milan: “I would say that Milan and Barcelona have two different ways of playing and understanding football. Here you see that it is much more technical. At Milan it was much more direct. The main thing was the result.”

On his initial months at the club: “My first few months here were difficult, as I wasn’t playing much. Xavi always told me to be patient, that he trusted me. He told me to persevere and to continue to work hard, and that my opportunities would come.”

On Yaya Toure’s advice: “Yes, I spoke with Yaya Touré. When I found out that Barça wanted me, I called him and he told me that it was a great club, that if I came, I would win titles. He told me to come, to be calm, that he knew Xavi well, that he’s a wonderful person.”

On maintaining his physique and fitness: “Apart from training here, I also take special care of my body at home: A lot of massages, ice baths, and everything else.”

On Pedri’s comment on his physique: “It’s logical. We don’t have the same muscle mass nor the same weight. There are some players that aren’t strong, but they have other attributes. I’ve seen many talented players, but Pedri is special.”

On Ansu Fati blocking his goal in El Clasico: “No, no. We laughed about it, and that was it. I have a great relationship with Ansu, and 2 or 3 seconds later I told him to forget about it and focus on the match.”

On Gavi: “Gavi is a player with brutal quality. It’s clear that he is going to win many trophies at Barça. Like Pedri, like Ansu, like Balde. They have real magic.”

On playing in El Clasico: “Many players dream of playing El Clasico, and I’m gonna play 3 of them in 30 days.”

On his future at the club: “It never even crossed my mind to leave Barcelona. I’m a Culé and I plan to stay here for many years.”

On being called El Presidente: “One of the first days at AC Milan I arrived at the parking lot and parked my car. I saw a security guard coming towards me. He told me that I couldn’t take that spot because it belongs to the President. Since then everyone began to call me like that.”

On how he feels at Barcelona: “Things are going very well. I’m happy to be here, the teammates, the work and the relationship with the staff and with the club in general, it’s great to be here.”

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