Wednesday, April 14, 2021

Pjanic ready to battle for Barcelona place

SoccerNews in La Liga 27 Mar 2021

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Miralem Pjanic is determined to stay and fight for his Barcelona future despite a disappointing first season at Camp Nou.

Bosnia-Herzegovina playmaker Pjanic joined Barca last year in a deal that saw fellow midfielder Arthur move in the opposite direction to Juventus.

Each European superpower bowing out at the last-16 stage of the Champions League indicates the difficult situations both players entered with their new employers, but while injuries have occasionally hindered Arthur’s progress, Pjanic has started to appear surplus to requirements under Ronald Koeman.

Pedri’s development into a regular first-team fixture has not helped the 30-year-old’s cause and Riqui Puig has been preferred as a midfield option off the bench in recent weeks.

An overall upturn in Barca’s form, with a LaLiga and Copa del Rey double a possibility, has done plenty for Koeman’s standing, with reports suggesting recently elected president Joan Laporta is happy for the Dutchman to continue as head coach.

Whoever is in charge next term, Pjanic told Mundo Deportivo he does not intend to go anywhere.

“I did not sign for Barca to leave the following year,” he said.

“I signed to make history in a club that had been on my path for many years.”

Pjanic first worked his way into the affections of Barcelona fans more than a decade ago, when he scored as Lyon dumped Real Madrid out of the Champions League in 2009.

He explained that the Blaugrana were interested in his services as a youngster before almost making the move in 2019 before Antoine Griezmann accounted for most of the transfer budget.

“I decided to start my career in France but I always followed what Barca did,” he said.

“Two years ago, [former Barca sporting director Eric] Abidal wanted to sign me, we were talking but the club invested in Antoine and there was no money left for me.

“I had to wait live the dream of being a Barca player. I came to Barca because of my game and my experience as a winner, that’s what they asked me to contribute when I signed. 

“They told me that my character and my experience would be vital to grow a generation of young people from La Masia who were climbing very strongly.”

Despite his performances serving as a personal complication, Pjanic hailed Pedri as a player of “special intelligence… who will go very far” and also reflected upon a “spectacular” relationship with Lionel Messi, who “explains things about the environment that at first escaped me”.

He conceded his relationship with Koeman is more distant, but his “dream” of winning the Champions League at Barcelona remains.

“If I don’t play, the next morning I am training harder than ever so that the coaches will notice that I am not giving up,” he added.

“Koeman doesn’t talk much to players so what I have to do is keep working to be ready when he needs me.”

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