Speaking in an exclusive interview with Real Madrid legend Jorge Valdano on Universo Valdano, the France forward spoke about several topics, including life at Barcelona, his relationship with Lionel Messi and hoping to find his form.
“I left Atlético Madrid because I needed a change, I needed something different, important teammates of mine were leaving Atlético and it made it easier to leave. Diego Godin, Lucas Hernandez, and others were leaving at the time. I had rejected Barcelona a year before that. When I signed for the club I asked for forgiveness for delaying the move and saying I wouldn’t join Barcelona. I told Lionel Messi that I would give everything on the pitch for the club. I spoke with Leo when I arrived and he told me that when I turned down the first chance to go, he was screwed because he had asked for it publicly, but he told me he was with me and I notice it every day. My parents were angry about ‘The Decision’ documentary. They didn’t like that I did it like that and they also wanted to see me at Barça.”
On criticism from Barcelona supporters
Sometimes it happens, I accept the criticism. I had three managers in a year and a half, that is really hard with Barça’s style of play. Together with a pandemic to deal with too. So I still need time to adapt, because we had three different systems under three different managers, and therefore the players need time to adapt to me and I need time to adapt to them. People are asking if I’m a good signing or not, I know I can help. Maybe I haven’t helped as some people would have liked, but I want to help my teammates.
Playing under Valverde and Setién
I played on the left under Valverde with Jordi Alba. I have a good relationship with Valverde and a lot of respect for him. He gave me the opportunity to come here and I saw his trust in me. Under Quique, I learned a lot about playing out from the back, passing phases in games. I had a normal relationship with him. My parents asked me to ask him why I wasn’t playing. I felt it didn’t make sense to ask. In the game against Villarreal, he told me to do what I wanted – together with Suárez and Messi. We played with freedom, and then I got injured against Valladolid.
On goal celebrations
I wanted to mark the occasion of my first Barcelona goal with glitter, so I bought confetti on Amazon. My teammates didn’t say anything to me in the dressing room. I like to celebrate goals. At Real Sociedad, I once sat in a car at the side of the pitch along with my teammates when I scored!
On Eric Olhats
He was very important in my life but I don’t have a relationship with him anymore. I stopped having any relationship with him since the day I got married. I invited him to the wedding day, and he didn’t come. That’s why I stopped having a relationship with him. My uncle doesn’t know how football works. And in the end, the journalist ended up getting the statement out of him. I told Leo that I never speak to them, in fact, I don’t even have my uncle’s phone number. My parents don’t talk to Eric either, so who is going to talk to him? he can do a lot of damage, and create problems in the dressing room.
On the future at Barcelona
There is plenty happening at the club with elections, injuries, etc. It has been a tough two years, but there is plenty ahead. We have the Champions League to look forward to and lots of games coming up. I believe we have the group to show we can win big things and we have to respond. We travel to Ukraine next, every three days you’re playing, we’re not used to so many games – after three months of no games, it is complicated. There are lots of injuries and it’s not a coincidence. I’m excited to respond, to win, and to help the team. They trust me and there’s no problem at all. I just want to be left alone and have some peace!