Jasper Cillessen: "My challenge is to be the number 1 at Barça"


Jasper Cillessen (Nijmegen, 1989) is considered a silent person. Born in the village of Groesbeek in the Netherlands, he lives in Castelldefels to escape traffic and screams. The Dutch national team have a third season in Barça without having taken possession of Ter Stegen in the league, but insists that his priority is not to leave a club that has become a Cup goalkeeper. At the Levante camp it's up to him to go back to putting under the poles.

How do you cope with the return of the Copa del Rey and in 2019?

As in 2018. My situation has not changed, I will continue to play only the Cup. I'm happy to do it, but to clarify, I'd like to play more.

At Barça everyone seems to be happy with Jasper Cillessen, both when they play and how to train. Is it always frustrating to always listen to good words but be substitutes?

It can sometimes be frustrating, but at the same time it's always nice to know that people believe in you. I would like to play a lot more games, but having a goalkeeper like Marc-André is ahead of Stegen, I can not do much more. Let's talk about one of the five best goalkeepers in the world.

Will Barça leave if they do not play anymore?

My priority would always be to play. But only a goalkeeper can play, what will we do? I want to play, but I do not want to go to this club that fights me. If it is up to me to stay for more than two years by completing the contract, even if I receive offers, I do not think to fight Abidal [somriu].

If you want to go, where would you like to go? At the Premier?

When I have an offer, I will study. There is no priority.

So, is your future far from the Camp Nou?

My dream is to be a Barça goalkeeper. That's why I came here, that's why I work and work every day. Now, it must be realistic. If Ter Stegen continues to play this way, it will be difficult to be more prominent.

What is your relationship with Ter Stegen?

We have a good relationship. When I started playing at NEC, the owner was Hungarian Gábor Babos, but he was injured and I took the opportunity to play. Then I was young and Babos told me that every day, in every training, I fought to be better than me, to defeat myself in games … but then, when the official match arrived, he would always help me and I would be by my side. This is the relationship with Marc-André.

When Barça called him to sign him in the summer of 2016, he knew he would go to a changing room where the goalkeeper would have been difficult. Did this make him doubt?

No, when you call a club as big as Barça, there is little doubt. No doubt, no. Also, when I arrived at Ajax, I experienced a similar situation. So I already knew how it would be, even if now, unlike what happened to Ajax, it will take me more time to play as the title holder in the league. But I still dream of becoming the owner, even if we have to accept that Ter Stegen is ahead of me and does not make mistakes. I have to prove that I'm prepared if one day I'll have to jump, nothing else.

He talked about when he arrived in Ajax. He trained at NEC in Nijmegen, where he started playing in the shadow of the Hungarian Gábor Babos. But once he was the principal, he did not stop until he joined a giant like Ajax. How was that first change?

And it was a great change. It was strange to have to leave home after 11 years of being in the same club. It was only a year ago that I played Primera and I went to Amsterdam, even though I chose to go and live outside the city, in a quiet area. I come from a small place and I prefer not to live in big cities. In Barcelona I did the same thing: I live in Castelldefels. But it was still a necessary step, a challenge.

Ajax and Barça look a bit like this, we are talking about two clubs that have built an identity around their game …

True, Ajax and Barça are alike. Surely for this reason, Barça has thought of me because I had the necessary quality. I was already used to playing in a particular way, where style is important and the goalkeeper has to play with his feet.

Soon he will inaugurate Johan Cruyff Stadium at Ciutat Esportiva. Did you expect Cruyff's legacy to be so lively in Barcelona?

Buf, it's incredible. I already knew he was loved, but he did not expect his legacy to be so great. It's nice to be a Dutchman, get here and see everything he's done.

Does Ajax have a lot of debates about taking care of the style?

There is always a debate, it is the grace of football. Some make them win by playing badly. If you win the Champions League, you will eventually remember that you won, not how you won it. That's why there's a debate, not everyone sees it anyway. In clubs like Barça, the priority is the offensive football, having the ball above all the rest. For me, getting to Barça has changed my philosophy, the way I see the game. Before I saw him differently. If it were to be more defensive, I did not find it bad.

What did the Barça surprise?

Perhaps the biggest difference is that here our life is more private. In Ajax there were more relationships with the young people or the players, we made life with them. At Barça, as we play with so much pressure, we are more isolated, to have the peace necessary to prepare the matches. It's good for us

After those years that suffered from the selection, the Netherlands preceded France and Germany in the group of the League of Nations. How important was the last game against Germany?

We have a lot of rivalry forever, with Germany, it was great [somriu]. The last match we drew, at home, but it was very positive for our collective spirit to raise a game lost 2-0 …

Dutch football has recovered the certainty and ability to produce talent. How do you see your future?

We have a lot of future, with many young players. Did you see the England Cup game on Liverpool's other day? He has played almost the entire Ki-Jana Hoever party, which is 16 years old. We have a lot of potential, and after a few complicated years the selection is again excited by people. It would be very nice to win the League of Nations this summer. Raiding a cup with the selection would be a dream.

I suppose this was expected, but Barça are still two Dutch, Matthijs de Ligt and Frenkie de Jong. Know them well Have the level to win at Barça?

Yes and no Yes, because we are talking about great players, first level … but at the same time I say no because they do not yet have the level to reach a club like Barça and they will succeed from the first day. Barça is one of the best clubs in the world, the best players play, so you do not have to ask a young man who has just landed here that the first day is the key. For example, if you look at how Arthur Melo plays, you see that the level is very high, but you need a little time to adapt. I can not help you in this decision, it's your thing, but it's not easy to decide when you have offers and you're young.

Talk about patience with young people. In today's world, when everything is going so fast, we are losing perspective when we ask players like Riqui Puig who have already triumphed from day one?

Yes, yes, that's exactly that. It seems that Riqui Puig has to replace Iniesta, although Iniesta is a single player. The level here is the highest in the football world, here are the best, it's not like playing in the yard. We need a little patience, time … with the young it seems that everyone wants to draw conclusions after five games, even if Barça's triumph costs a lot. Each player goes through this adaptation process. Players like Riqui Puig have the necessary quality. Now, it takes time to get everything right.

In his case, Riqui Puig seems well advised by his parents. How important is it for a young player to have a family accompanying him?

It's the key Perhaps I would say that there is nothing more important, because they are the ones that help to have the head where it touches and the feet on the floor. But the classmates also help a lot, they have close people who avoid losing their sense of reality.

Despite having the privilege of playing in teams like Barça, how does pressure, responsibility?

In the past I felt a lot of pressure. Patia, I was there … I felt that when an important match arrived I had to show everyone that it was worth it: the teammate, the trainer, myself … I had to always show things. When I had a game with the team or when I played the first Cup final with Barça … Now, little by little, I have more fun, I changed the way I face it. I try to enjoy myself more, despite being competitive. Sport is becoming more competitive and sportsmen can make mistakes. Above all if you always win and, suddenly, failures. Then people change. At Ajax we had won four championships, but if you had two wrong games they whistled. People always want more, they do not want to stop winning. At Barça you can win two titles and keep showing things. You have to keep winning, you can not lose a single cup …

Would it be nice for Ernesto Valverde to continue on Barça?

I do not know, I do not talk about things that do not depend on me, it will be your decision and I hope it will end well for everyone.

Finally, do you look like a coach?

No, I do not have the profile or the necessary character. Perhaps I consider myself a goalkeeper coach, but I still have many years to play.


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