Franck Kessie has only just arrived at Barcelona on a free transfer after leaving AC Milan but has already made an impression on his new club in pre-season training.
The club’s coaches have been impressed by the new signing in his first few training sessions at the club, according to Diario Sport. “It’s is a very good feeling. He has surprised very positively,” is the word from Xavi’s staff.
Kessie is known for his physical strength but it’s with the ball where he has made an impact at Barcelona. The Ivorian has displayed a “good touch” and his technical ability has been on show in the team’s famous training ground rondos.
The 27-year-old could be set for a Barcelona debut imminently. The Catalans play a first pre-season friendly ahead of the new campaign on Wednesday, July 13 against local team Olot.
Kessie has only been at the club for less than a week but may be granted some minutes after impressing in training, particularly as midfielders Sergio Busquets, Gavi, and Frenkie de Jong only returned to pre-season training on Monday. The trio were granted extended leave due to their international commitments in June.
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How Xavi Convinced Kessie To Join
Xavi’s newest signing needed some convincing to move to the Camp Nou as he did not feel he had the requisite ‘Barcelona DNA’, as reported by Mundo Deportivo. The midfielder asked Xavi why he wanted him at Barcelona and was told exactly where he would fit in.
“Kessie, I need you,” Xavi said when he first spoke to the midfielder. The coach explained he needs strong, experienced players in his midfield to protect other stars such as Pedri and Gavi.
Xavi used examples such as former midfielders Yaya Toure and Seydou Keita to explain to Kessie how the team had often had players “who do not have Barca DNA” but they can still play a vital role in the squad.
Kessie has already made it clear how much of an influence Yaya has been on his career so far. The new signing spoke about his compatriot at a press conference after being unveiled as a new Barcelona player.
“My idol is Yaya Toure,” he said. “He is a great player and an Ivorian, like me. I have been lucky enough to play with him and I want to have a career as good as his.”
Kessie Set For Key Role?
Kessie still faces a battle to force his way into the starting XI next season. Xavi currently has Sergio Busquets, Frenkie de Jong, Gavi, Pedri, and Nico Gonzalez in his first-team squad.
Busquets, De Jong, and Pedri were Xavi’s preferred midfield three last season but there may be changes in 2022-23. Kessie told his news conference that Xavi thinks he can be an important player for the Catalan giants.
“When a coach with the kind of name that Xavi has calls you up you can be happy. That means that your work has been recognized and it’s good. I spoke with him,” he added. “There aren’t many players who can say they are coming to Barcelona to be part of the best team in the worId. I spoke with Xavi and Xavi spoke about how important I was going to be to the club. I thought about it and I made the decision to come.”
Kessie’s arrival certainly adds to Xavi’s options for the new season and will give the Barcelona coach a nice selection headache ahead of his first full campaign in charge of the team.