Barcelona goalkeeper Inaki Pena has spoken about his future at the Camp Nou as he prepares to take on the Catalan giants in the last 16 of the Europa League with current side Galatasaray.
Pena sealed a loan switch to the Turkish club in the January transfer window but has made it clear he is hoping he can have an impact at Barca next season when he returns to his parent club.
The 23-year-old told a pre-match press conference that he thinks the arrival of Xavi can boost his chances of breaking into the first team at Barca and is hoping to be able to show what he can do between now and the end of the season with Galatasaray.
“To be at Barcelona, it is necessary to have high quality. I have to give my best performance to come back. I hope to make it happen if I get more time,” he said. “I played for Barcelona for years. Xavi is a good opportunity for me. I hope to take this opportunity and come back again.”
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Pena Expecting Tough Test at Barcelona
Pena has made five appearances for Galatasaray so far but will face competition for his place now that veteran stopper Fernando Muslera has returned to fitness after a knee injury.
The Barcelona youngster could still start at the Camp Nou on Thursday, March 10 in the first leg of the tie and knows his team will face a tough test against Xavi’s in-form side.
“It was a tough draw. Tomorrow we will use all our strength. It’s a big game for us. We need to get a good result. As of now, I personally think I’m on the right track. As players, we are always trying to overcome the situation we are in. I’m trying to get more time,” he said. “I’ll do my best. Everyone follows Barcelona. We are conscious of what we have to do. We are the biggest club in Turkey. We didn’t come here to see the stadium. We came here to fight. We are aware of this. We will try to do our best. We know that Barcelona will keep us under pressure.”
Galatasaray have endured a tough season so far. The Turkish giants are down in 12th place in the Super Lig after 28 games played and will need to win the Europa League if they are to qualify for European competition next season.
Xavi Talks Inaki Pena
Barcelona coach Xavi talked about Pena at his news conference ahead of the match, particularly in regards to the possibility of the youngster providing competition for Marc-Andre ter Stegen next season.
There has been speculation Barca want to sign a goalkeeper as competition for the German, and Xavi praised Pena for making the tough decision to move away from the Camp Nou in search of regular playing time.
“That’s why he went. It was a tough decision. He had Marc and Neto ahead of him. He always said he wanted to play,” he said. “It’s good, it’s a brave decision, he’s doing really well. He’s a goalkeeper with a lot of capability and the idea is he will come back and fight for a place.”
Pena will be hoping he can impress Barcelona during his time at Galatasaray with a view to returning in the summer and potentially battling with Ter Stegen for the No. 1 jersey in 2022-23.