on De Jong
Speaking to UEFA.com, the Dutch national team reflects on his first season as a Barcelona player.
Wednesday: Juventus v Barcelona
About the Catalan lifestyle and family
Life in Barcelona is really comfortable. It's really good because the climate is really good, better than in the Netherlands. We have beaches, we have mountains, and people treat me well. I really enjoy living in Barcelona. The thing I miss most about the Netherlands is my family. I love my family and my close friends. I think this is the hardest thing. The country itself and Barcelona as a city are wonderful; more family and friends further away.
Barça's Dutch link
I think Barcelona is really popular in the Netherlands because many Dutch players played for Barcelona and of course Johan Cruyff was the greatest Dutch player of all time; [he] played here and had a huge impact on the club.
On the advice of Ronald Koeman before joining Barça
I spoke to him [on the phone over a year ago] and he was really positive about Barcelona as a city as well as a club. So what he told me was almost entirely positive. He told me I just need to be careful, not go to restaurants too much or eat too much as life is really good in Barcelona and sometimes you can feel like you're on vacation all year long. He just said, "Take care of that and everything is really good for the rest." At the end of the day, football is the main part.
On working with Koeman
I think the communication between us, the coach and me, is really good and he tells [me] exactly what he wants from me in this position, and I think everything is really clear. As he speaks, you listen to him because he has this authority, this power – I don't know how to explain it – and of course he knows a lot about football because I think he understands the game and he's been a great player before. So, if he tries to teach you something, you listen.
On developing as a player
I always find it difficult to say that I learned this or that or that. I think overall you are improving both as a person and as a football player because at the level we have in Barcelona and if you are training and playing against the opponents we are playing, you are the better player.
When playing in the pivot position
In my nature as a player, I want to get the ball early in the game and set up the game. I guess that's my way of playing, more about waiting for the ball, getting it from the front and touching the ball less. I think I feel more comfortable in the pivot position than high front, but I can also play high front. It's not that important to me, but if I had to choose, I'd rather play a double pivot than a mediapunta for example (fake nine).
Barça teammatesI think [Miralem Pjanić] is a really good actress. Really comfortable on the ball. I think he sees the game very well and his shooting, his passing, his long passes are really good. So I think he is a quality player who will bring a lot to our team. I am really happy that you joined us.
If you have [Lionel] Messi on your team, of course you have the best player in the world on your team, so you try to put him in the best positions to make a difference and I think we have to adapt to him. When he gets the ball in a position where it can make a difference, he will always do it for you.