Barcelona finally won the race to sign Jules Kounde from Sevilla and the Frenchman says it was manager Xavi Hernandez who made the difference as he chose the Camp Nou over Stamford Bridge.
Chelsea were pursuing the defender for a year and looked to have got hold of him this summer, before Barca hijacked the deal late in the day.
Kounde had seemed keen to make the switch to west London, but has ended up with the Catalan giants, which he says is at least in part down to the midfield legend in charge of the club.
‘The coach, Xavi, is one of the big reasons why I am here, too,’ said the 23-year-old. ‘I spoke with him several times. The way he spoke was captivating.
‘We had some good conversations and we see football in the same way. Now it’s a question of coming into the team, settling in and giving my all to have as many minutes as possible and an important role in the side.’
Barcelona have overcome their financial difficulties sufficiently to pay Sevilla €55m (£46m) for Kounde and sign him up to a five-year contract.
The France international has been yearning for a move to a bigger club than Sevilla and now he is got it he is excited to get started.
‘I am very proud and grateful for this opportunity,’ he said. ‘I am excited because I am joining a great club with a great team.
‘I am looking forward to getting going with the team and giving my best. Sevilla are a great club as well, of course, but Barca represent the next step in my career at every level.
‘I want to compete in all competitions and try to win as much as possible, that is why I am here.’
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