Arda Turan admits to an unusual feeling after playing for the first time against Atletico Madrid, the club he left last summer for Barcelona.
Turkey international Turan spent four years at Vicente Calderon before a 2015 switch to Camp Nou, and has spoken about his first experience opposing Atletico.
“I felt weird because I played with them a long time, the people are very special to me and will be for the rest of my life but during the game I only wanted to help my team,” he revealed, AS reports, before moving on to discussing how the opposition handle Barca.
“Having been on both sides I can tell you stopping a team like ours is difficult. Atletico players or Athletic Bilbao players are players of character.
“You have to respect this style. You have to play hard. We are Barca, and we have to understand they will do anything to stop us."
Arda’s situation when he first moved to Barca was unusual as the club’s transfer embargo meant he could be signed but not registered, and so he and fellow summer arrival Aleix Vidal spent six months on the sidelines.
“I never thought of going on loan. I spent that time very badly and I was a lot more nervous than Aleix.
“He was in his home and I was coming here new. But they made me feel at home.
“I never said I wanted to leave Atletico because I was tired of running. That’s a lie.
“I feel very identified [with Luis Enrique]. He is intense and aggressive. The club has always had soul and quality. But he brings aggression.
“I came here to win the Champions League. There was a minute left to win it [in the 2014 final when Atletico lost after extra time to Real Madrid].
“Let’s see if I am the talisman for Barca to win it for the second time in a row.”
One of the defining images of Arda’s time at Atletico was also one of the most controversial when, in frustration, he threw his boot at an assistant referee and somehow escaped without a red card.
“Throwing the boot was a mistake, and I learned it was wrong,” he admitted as he looked back.
“But on the pitch I’m a player with character. If you want I could throw my boot now…”