Luis Enrique has praised the form and character shown by Claudio Bravo following the goalkeeper’s departure from Barcelona to Manchester City.
The Chile international on Thursday moved – for an initial fee of €18million – to the Etihad Stadium, where he is expected to become first choice under former Barca head coach Pep Guardiola.
Bravo spent just two years at Camp Nou, having moved to the Catalan giants from Real Sociedad in 2014, but it was a glittering spell for the 33-year-old, who won two LaLiga titles and the Champions League among a haul of eight trophies.
Addressing the media ahead of the match away to Athletic Bilbao on Sunday, Luis Enrique expressed his gratitude for the contribution of Bravo.
In something of an unconventional arrangement, the former Colo-Colo player started LaLiga matches during his time at Barca, before making way in the Champions League and domestic cups for German keeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen, who will now compete with Netherlands international Jasper Cillessen, signed from Ajax, for the number one role.
“Now I can talk about the goalkeeper,” Luis Enrique said. “Saying anything before wouldn’t have helped anything.
“I want to credit the work of Claudio Bravo for these two seasons. It was unique, exceptional work from a person who helped us a lot.
“I want to highlight the work of the three goalkeepers,” he added, referring to Bravo, Ter Stegen and their understudy Jordi Masip.
“It’s not just the quality of the goalkeepers but also their behaviour. It’s been a difficult situation we’ve managed to deal with thanks to their exemplary behaviour.”
Bravo will not have to wait long for a reunion with his former team-mates, Barca having been drawn against City, as well as Celtic and Borussia Monchengladbach, in Group C of the Champions League.
“It’s an incredible competition,” Luis Enrique said of the tournament, which the Blaugrana triumphed in as part of the treble secured during his first campaign in charge in 2014-15.
“It’s one we’d always love to win.
“We start as one of the favourites, like City, with all the curiosity aroused by Guardiola and Bravo.
“We knew before the draw that our group would be difficult.”
Barca begin their latest assault on the Champions League at home to Celtic on September 13, with City due to visit Camp Nou a month later.
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