Luis Enrique insists there is no radical difference in Arda Turan’s game after the Turkey international’s impressive start to the season with Barcelona.
Camp Nou boss Luis Enrique was regularly forced to defend Arda as his performances last term failed to convince, despite Barca completing a LaLiga and Copa del Rey double.
The Supercopa de Espana against Sevilla gave former Atletico Madrid star Arda a chance to demonstrate his talents on the left of Barca’s front three, a role he filled in Neymar’s absence as part of Brazil’s Olympic team, and he did not disappoint.
After chesting down a clever assist for Luis Suarez to open the scoring during the first leg, Arda took centre-stage with a brace on Wednesday as a 3-0 win closed out a 5-0 aggregate triumph for Barcelona.
“Nothing has changed, I think he is the same as last year, playing football at the same level,” Luis Enrique told a news conference ahead of his side’s LaLiga opener at home to Real Betis on Saturday.
“I’m glad things are working out for him but I think it’s the same payers we’ve always had.
“Of course, the longer you are with a team the day-to-day gets easier and you can work out playing situations better
“But I think this is the same player we have always had.”
Barcelona’s resources at centre-back are stretched after Jeremy Mathieu and Javier Mascherano sustained injuries over the course of the two legs versus Sevilla.
Close-season signing Samuel Umtiti is set to start alongside Gerard Pique in the heart of defence against Betis, with Croatia midfielder Ivan Rakitic on standby as an emergency defensive option.
“The day before yesterday we had to use Rakitic as an emergency centre-back so, yes that’s an option,” he added.
“Pique and Smauel are the only natural centre-backs we have got. Hopefully nothing happens to them and I don’t have to use other players.
“Otherwise it would be a risk to play Rakitic at centre-back but, yes, it is a possibility.”
With regards to the last line of his defence, Luis Enrique was reluctant to offer any information on a number of questions relating to goalkeeper Claudio Bravo’s reportedly imminent move to Manchester City.
Asked whether Saturday would be the Chile international’s final game for Barcelona, he said: “I don’t know, you tell me.”