BARCELONA

Emerson's message to Barcelona: "I'm not scared, I'm ready to play"

With Barça coach Quique Setién said to be eager to bring him to Camp Nou this year, Emerson insists he is ready for Barcelona's first team.

Emerson tells Barcelona: I'm not scared – I'm ready to play

Emerson has told Barcelona he will be ready to play for the first team amid rumours he could finally move to Camp Nou this year. The Brazilian has played 23 LaLiga matches this season with Betis after moving to Spain in 2019. Barça struck a  12 million euro deal to sign the full-back on a five-year contract from Atlético Mineiro, although Betis paid half that sum for 50 per cent of his registration rights before taking him to Seville. As part of that deal, the Catalans are said to have the option to sign him outright for an initial 6 million euros in 2021, but it has been reported that Barça coach Quique Setién, who worked with Emerson at Betis, wants to bring that move forward to this year.

I'm ready for Barcelona challenge, says Emerson

The 21-year-old insists he would have no concerns about making the leap to join Barça, having improved his defensive displays markedly under Setién and then Rubi, who took charge when Setién – who succeeded Ernesto Valverde as Blaugrana coach in January – departed at the end of last season.

"First Setién and then Rubi insisted I should defend better. I get forward easily, but it's harder at the back. I started working on that and things have changed a lot," Emerson told AS. "The reality is, in Brazil, I didn't have to do as much as a defender. Closing spaces and tactics are much more at work in Europe than there. I didn't think I'd get to this level so early. I think this season I'm having is without a doubt the best of my life. Things are going quickly for me. I'm young, but I'm ready to play for any team. Yes, I'm ready to play for Barcelona. I've also been asked before about going up to the Brazil senior team and my answer was the same. I'm not scared at all. Playing for Barça is a dream I've had since I was a child. I was always a Barça fan for the Brazilian stars that played there, like Ronaldinho or Dani Alves. And also for [Lionel] Messi or [Eric] Abidal. I have four idols: Dani Alves, Cafu, Roberto Carlos and Marcelo. Many people compare my story with Alves', yes. He's an example. I also want to play in the Champions League with Barcelona and win as many cups as possible."