Jules Kounde has described Xavi’s role in bringing the defender to Barcelona from Sevilla, stressing how “vital” the coach was in pushing for the transaction.
The 23-year-old was long courted by Premier League club Chelsea, who were widely rumoured to be close to a deal when Barcelona intervened.
It was the second time in the summer that a late Barcelona move had angered the English team, with the Blaugrana signing Raphinha from Leeds United ahead of them, while also signing Andreas Christensen on a free transfer from the Blues.
The chats he had with Xavi, though, were crucial to Kounde’s decision.
“I had some excellent chats with Xavi, and he always expressed a desire for me to come here, which was crucial for me,” he said at a press conference.
“This is a pivotal moment in my career, and he asked me to keep doing what I was doing in Sevilla, to be aggressive, bring the ball out from the back, and distribute, which are some of my talents.
“Barcelona is a terrific club, but it’s also incredibly demanding, as Xavi mentioned to me.”
Kounde’s entrance at Barcelona is part of a huge recruitment effort led by Xavi, who has also brought in Robert Lewandowski, Raphinha, Christensen, and Franck Kessie.
However, the France international has an advantage due to his previous experience playing in Spain and feels he will fit in soon.
“My experience of the league will make it simpler to adapt to the Barcelona style as quickly as feasible,” he explained.
“My coach will undoubtedly ask me to get to know my teammates, which will take some time but will not be an issue.
“There is a lot of competitiveness, which I believe is beneficial to the squad. It’s excellent to have a lot of competition in each slot; there are, of course, a lot of games.
“What I need to do here is mature and learn. I’m still very young, and I’m here to serve the squad at any time, whatever the coach requires of me and my teammates.
“It’s great that there’s competition; I’m really looking forward to playing, and when there’s competition, it’s a challenge, which is fantastic.”