In part two of the Barca Blaugranes interview with Patrick Kluivert, the former Barcelona striker and academy director, shares his summer wish list, and gives his insight on the young players from La Masia to be aware of.
He also reflects on Frenkie de Jong’s career at Barcelona, and what his future looks like at the club.
Finally, Kluivert evaluates Xavi’s tenure as manager, and what he needs to do to get the team to the next level in the Champions League.
If you’d like to go back to the first part of this exclusive interview with Patrick Kluivert, where we talk about the Real Madrid rivalry, past and present, click here.
Here’s what the Barca legend had to say about the future of the sporting project as he sees it.
Kluivert on which Barcelona players impress him the most
Well of course, and not speaking as a fan, I think Raphinha is doing a great job. Lewandowski too, what he’s already done this season, is amazing.
In the midfield, Gavi is a fantastic player, although sometimes from my point of view, he’s too aggressive and loses his head, but I think he’s a very big strength for the Barca midfield.
Then of course you have Frenkie. The midfield is quite good with him, Busquets, Pedri, and Gavi. They cover the midfield quite well.
Kluivert on the future of Frenkie de Jong and his best position
I think he’s definitely a player Barcelona needs to keep.
With all respect to Busquets, what he does is fantastic of course, and he’s a very big strength in the team. But the real position for Frenkie is as the number 6 from my point of view. He’s a connecting player, and that’s where Busquets is playing. It’s hard to play with two number 6s, so it’s either Busi or Frenkie. That’s my point of view.
Gavi and Pedri are the 8 and the 10 positions who get in the right spaces alongside Lewandowski.
Even in Ajax, and also Barcelona, Frenkie sometimes plays like a defender, and then he can make himself into an extra player in the midfield. So to me he can play stronger in front of the ball. He needs to pass and divide the game from left and right. Even the pass he gave to Raphinha, I think it was against Athletic Bilbao, he placed it right in front of the goalkeeper.
And that’s Frenkie’s best position, to divide the game, to be the connecting person between the defense and offense, that’s where he makes the difference.
Kluivert on a new contract for Busquets
It’s hard of course to say to Busi he needs to leave, but if you have to make a decision, Frenkie needs to stay for sure. He’s still in the shadow of Busquets, it’s true.
Kluivert on Barca Academy players to be on the lookout for
Well he’s already come in a few times, that’s Angel Alarcon. He’s a good player.
Yamal Lamine is a very good player. He’s 16 years old and already trained with the first team. There are a little bit of discussions having at the moment regarding him, but he’s played with the national Under 17s team with Spain. He’s a very promising striker, left-footed.
I had another player, Ilias Akohmach. For me, he’s a good player as well. He made his debut quickly last year.
There are a few others running around who haven’t made his debut yet. Have you heard of Pau Torres?. There are a lot of young players knocking on the door, but you haven’t seen them yet.
Kluivert on whether Lamine is the next big player
He’s a goalscorer, passer, and a playmaker. He’s actually everything. The total package. The most important thing is to stay humble, stay with both feet on the ground. You know he’s got the characteristics to become a great player for Barcelona. I’m really convinced about that.
Kluivert on Chadi Riad
Chadi, in his youth, he went one year on loan to a second division club and did good, and now he’s back.
He’s a strong defender. He needs to improve some things regarding his build-up, because as you know the defenders of Barcelona, it’s essential they can play with the ball. But defensively he’s strong, he’s big, he’s quick, he has the potential to be in the team.
Kluivert on summer signings for Barcelona
Financial Fair Play is something you need to know, but who is on my wishlist?
Definitely needs to be a striker. Because after Lewandowski you need to have a central striker. I’m really fond of Goncalo Ramos. I like that player and he’s done a very good job for the Portugal national team and also at Benfica.
Firmino to Barcelona, I think he would also be a very interesting player.
Now, it’s is a striker that’s needed to empower Barcelona. The rest is fine if everyone stays. The midfield will be ok.
Maybe a right-back? We bought Julian Araujo already, a new defender for the second team, and he might swarm in because neither Kounde nor Araujo, from my point of view, are real right-backs. That seems to be the only position. Joao Cancelo is too expensive, but he would be a fantastic player.
Kluivert on how he rates Xavi as the manager
He did a fantastic job, and he’s still doing a fantastic job, it’s only European wise.
The most important thing is if he becomes a champion (in La Liga), he can build next year towards the Champions League, and do a better job.
Now that we’re out of the Europa Championship, it’s essential to be champions of Spain, and to build next year a stronger team, and also in the Champions League to be competitive and try to make it to at least the quarter-finals.
If he’s champion of La Liga, he’ll get more time, and more things he can change, he’s already changed a lot of course, but then he can build to make a competitive team in Europe as well.
Kluivert on getting knocked out of the Champions League this year
I think this time they just weren’t good enough. You saw the result against Bayern, and they were three times better, with all respect.
There will be better times. After all the discussions, and putting the club under pressure, they will come stronger out of this situation for sure.