Question: You are now into your 10th season in LaLiga. What do you think about your time here? Where do you feel you are in your career?
Answer: Well, I am learning and watching new things. I am trying to integrate in the best possible way with the group, and I am very happy to be here, I am enjoying myself. I hope to improve and score more goals and provide more assists.
Q: What do you owe to your previous teams in LaLiga?
A: I owe them a lot. I owe Real Sociedad almost everything because back then they were the only team that trusted me. They gave me all I needed to be happy on and off the pitch, and they were the first to let me sign a professional contract and to give me a salary for playing football, so I owe them a lot. And then Atlético… their people, the teammates, it’s all been a very beautiful experience. So far, the best in my professional career. There were moments in the dressing room and with their fans that are the best for me. And now, well, I am at the biggest club in the world. I have new challenges ahead, a new style to adapt to, a new group, so I am getting there, little by little.
Q: What did it mean to you to sign for FC Barcelona?
A: I am very happy to have signed for them and it’s a great pride. I am very happy to be here and my father is proud to see his son playing for FC Barcelona. I want to have my name written in golden letters in the club, and the History, so I will keep on working hard to be an important player. We are working on it now.
Q: How have your first few months at the club been?
A: Well, as I said, I’m adapting to everything, I am trying to learn as quickly as possible the tactics, the style of football we play… I’ve come from a different football style, but it’s all good. I feel fine and I have good legs and a strong mind, I am eager to work hard, learn and improve.
Q: What’s playing with Messi like?
A: I see him every day. I try to look at his movements and move around when he has the ball to be able to create that link. He is Leo Messi, the best in the world, and it’s a pleasure to play for him.
Q: What about Luis Suárez?
A: His instinct in front of goal is incredible. He does not need many chances to score, and he is now showing great confidence in himself. You can see that because every time he shoots it’s a dangerous chance or a goal. We must help him, put him in the best conditions possible so that he has the best chances and can score more goals.
Q: You scored twice in your LaLiga debut at the Camp Nou. How was that game for you?
A: It was quite great. I tried not to put too much pressure on myself. It’s very different because we don’t have a pre-match session, I spend my whole day at home, so I need to have my own routines. At Atletico and Real Sociedad I always used to go to the hotel where we’d meet up pre-game so I had my routines and now everything is very different. But I am fine and I am confident, I am happy on and off the pitch. I was lucky enough to score a couple of goals but that’s not the most important thing for me, I just want to do my best to help my teammates.
Q: What’s it like scoring at the Camp Nou?
A: It’s really great. I had a blast. I am eager to score more goals and I was waiting for this moment to come for a long time, because as a visitor I hadn’t managed to score at the Camp Nou. But now I’ve done so wearing the Barcelona shirt and I am very, very happy.
Q: What does El Clásico – FC Barcelona vs Real Madrid – mean to you?
A: Well it’s the most important game of the year. It’s a great show, the previous days are intense on the TV (because I always used to watch it on TV!) and we will do everything we can do to try and be at our 100% and win the game.
Q: What do you think it’ll be like to play El Clásico at the Camp Nou?
A: Well, I imagine there will be a great atmosphere, with great tension and great excitement from the fans and from ourselves. It’s a game you want to be a part of no matter how.
Q: What does it mean for you to play against Real Madrid?
A: Well, it’s nothing out of the ordinary. At the end, they’re an opponent we’re fighting for top spot with. At Atlético it was already very important for the fans, it was a derby and now it’s El Clásico. Both here and at Atleti we want to beat Real Madrid, obviously, and we’ll do everything we possibly can to win the game.
Q: What do you have to do as a team to win El Clásico?
A: Being at home, we must play offensively, keep and work the ball and follow the coach’s game plan.
Q: What’s the key to beating a team like Real Madrid?
A: No, I believe this is only about us, about how we play, how we attack and defend, that’s what we need to check to see how we can hurt them.
Q: Your fellow Frenchman Karim Benzema is having a good season so far.
A: Yes, yes, he is like that every year. For some reason people always doubt him but he’s always racking up 15-20 goals per season in LaLiga. He’s a great striker. He’s spent I don’t know how many years at Real Madrid and I reckon he is one of the best number ‘9’s out there.
Q: How do you foresee El Clásico?
A: Well, it will be a very disputed game. I hope we play well, keep the ball and create chances and goals. At the end of the day it’s a game we have to win and there are three very important points at stake.
Q: You scored a goal against Real Madrid with Atlético, now you will play against them with Barça, their greatest rival. What does scoring against Real Madrid feel like?
A: Scoring in a game like this is always a massive source of pride, but as I said I’m not a player that just thinks about scoring. I want to do what’s best for the team, whatever that might be at any given time. If I score, brilliant. But I’m not going to spend the whole game shooting to score if I can be more of a help in another way.
Q: What are the goals that the team have set for this season?
A: I think that we all have it in mind, we want to try and win all the trophies we can win. It’s going to be a long, difficult path, in some moments we will be doing very well and in others not so good… we need to be together and try to win all the games we have and all the trophies ahead.
Q: On a personal level, Antoine, what goal do you set yourself?
A: I want to improve on my numbers from last season in terms of minutes, games played, goals, assists. I want to improve in defence, in attack… a bit of everything.
Q: What dreams are you yet to fulfil?
A: Many. I want to win LaLiga, the Champions League, the Copa del Rey, the Euros, another World Cup. Many things! Make my family happy, my teammates, my friends… many things.