Former Barcelona goalkeeping coach Frank Hoek has backed the Spanish champions’ pursuit of Ajax’s Jasper Cillessen.
Reports in the Dutch media claim that the clubs have agreed a fee of €14million for the Netherlands international, who is expected to sign a five-year deal at Camp Nou.
And Hoek, who worked with Louis van Gaal at Barca, Manchester United and the Dutch national team, feels Luis Enrique has made a shrewd choice to sign a goalkeeper with strong all-round capabilities.
“I know him from having worked with him at the national team,” Hoek told Mundo Deportivo. “We were together at the World Cup with Louis van Gaal as coach, and he was number one.
“He’s a cool goalkeeper, very balanced, who dominates all facets of the game.
“He’s in the Dutch style – that is to say, not spectacular in one thing, but solid technically and tactically to give a good performance on every level.
“He has footwork of a sufficient level to play for Barca without any problems, and he’s also good in terms of reflexes, in one-on-ones, in the air.
“I think that he can improve at Barca because he will train and play with great footballers. I’m not only talking about [Lionel] Messi, [Luis] Suarez and Neymar, but also [Andres] Iniesta, [Gerard] Pique, [Javier] Mascherano. Working with them will be really good for him.
“Cillessen will integrate into Barca very well and will win a lot of titles under the instruction of Luis Enrique, someone I know very well.”
Cillessen was Van Gaal’s first choice at the 2014 World Cup, when Netherlands finished in third, but was surprisingly substituted at the end of extra-time in the quarter-final against Costa Rica to allow Tim Krul to take his place for the penalty shootout.
Hoek feels that Cillessen’s performances in the semi-final defeat to Argentina and the third-place play-off win over Brazil, following the disappointment of that decision by Van Gaal, proves the fortitude the 27-year-old possesses.
“That episode told me what mental strength Jasper has,” he said. “It was tough for him to be changed but we had to do what was best for the team, and that was to put Krul on penalties.
“In the next two matches, the semi-final and the third-place play-off, Cillessen played and his level didn’t drop.”