Denis Suarez says he was drawn to Barcelona by Ronaldinho as the Brazilian helped to alleviate pressure from his Real Madrid-supporting family members.
Denis officially returned to Barca on Monday after two seasons at Sevilla and Villarreal, and in a candid interview with Mundo Deportivo as part of his transfer, the attacking midfielder gave his new fans an insight into his formation as a footballer.
“A big part of my family are Madrid fans, but my father’s always been Barca,” the 22-year-old began.
“There was a small tug of war because the Blancos segment [of my family] wanted me to join Madrid wanted me, but I followed my father and was lucky to grow up with Ronaldinho’s Barca.
“Imagine what it’s like for my father to have his son at Barca. It makes him very excited.
“I think my best position is the through the middle, but if I put Luis Enrique wants to play me as a forward, winger or full-back then it’ll be because he needs me there.
“I want to play as much as possible. I once had to play for the B team as a full-back because some starters were injured and Eusebio played me as a No 2. I felt good. As a child, before I became a youth player, I was a centre-back and full-back.
“I said at my presentation: my shirt number isn’t a priority, but it’s clear that there are numbers that haven’t been taken, such as Xavi’s [old one].
“I’d like the No 6, but if I get No 26 then it’s no problem. Xavi’s been the best midfielder in history.
“Many people have told me that I’m like [Michael Laudrup] because of my movement.
“Because of my age, I didn’t see him play [live], although I’ve watched some videos of him, but he won it all. He was an incredible player in his day, while I still have to work hard.
“I like everything about [Andres Iniesta]: his dribbling, change of pace, final ball. He’s an example, not only in football, but also as a human and professional.
“[Iniesta and Xavi] were youngsters when they broke into the squad and knew they had to wait before they became undisputed [starters].
“La Masia is like Disneyland; you have everything there. I was only with the reserves for a year, but I left and always thought about coming back.
“I also grew up enjoying Celta [Vigo] and players like [Alexander] Mostovoi, [Valery] Karpin, Gustavo Lopez … Mostovoi was the idol of my childhood, the best player at the club. He’s an institution at Celta.
“I spoke to Robert [Fernandez] who treated me great and gave me strength. He attended many of my [Villarreal] games. For me, that was very important.
“The directors, who signed me from [Manchester] City, have also treated me great, plus the club’s fans, so the presentation at Camp Nou was unforgettable.
“[Lionel Messi] is undoubtedly the best. I’ve never seen a player like him. He has all the records, and his humility on the pitch makes the difference. He plays for the team and gets better every day.
“[Luis Suarez] is a natural goalscorer. He’s scored for all the teams he’s played for.
“[Neymar] is about fantasy, dribbling and technical novelty. He reminds me of the Ronaldinho I saw as a child.”