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Interview with Patrick Kluivert

Interview with Patrick Kluivert

An intriguing conversation with a football legend Patrick Kluivert as he shares his insights and experiences in an interview with a renowned journalist Guillem Balagué. Kluivert, known for his illustrious career with Ajax and Barcelona, and as the top goalscorer of EURO 2000, brings a unique perspective as a player, coach, and director in the football world. From discussing the impact of the World Cup to praising the genius of Lionel Messi and Pep Guardiola, Kluivert offers captivating insights into the current state of the game and takes stock of the 2022/23 season of European football. Watch the interview to delve into the mind of a true football icon and gain a deeper understanding of the beautiful football game from one of its greatest player.

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Guillem Balagué:

Hello and welcome, everyone. I don't know where you are, but what you're about to listen to is a fascinating conversation with somebody I've had a pleasure of knowing for a long time. A football man, but not just that. Somebody who's won titles with Ajax, with Barcelona, has been a regular with the Dutch national side and has participated in World Cups and European Championships. In fact, he was the top goalscorer of EURO 2000. Basically, somebody that many of us would call a legend of the game. He's also, of course, an ambassador of the social network for tipsters, the JohnnyBet platform. Welcome, Patrick Kluivert.

Patrick Kluivert:

Hello again. How are you doing? Long time no speak. We know it's a long time, but I need to correct you, because I won a championship also with PSV. The rest was correct.

Guillem Balagué:

Hello! Of course, as you have mentioned, your experience includes different roles in the game. Before we get into details of what you consider the highlights of this season, let's first discuss it briefly. You have done everything in football and everything means everything - from playing, coaching, to directing. What's the most exciting aspect for you?

Patrick Kluivert:

Well, of course, playing - from the early days in Ajax, where I started, to seven other clubs which I was a part of during my whole career. But yeah, the best, if you ask, is, of course, playing football. And I've been also the technical director of Paris Saint-Germain, as you know, and the director of the Youth Academy of Barcelona. Many times, I also acted as a coach of national teams of different countries. So yeah, like you said, I've played different roles in football. I have to admit, it's good to have such an experience in your backpack.

Guillem Balagué:

And that's why it's great to talk to you about what has happened this season because you're able to share it from a football point of view, from a director's but also a fan's point of view, of course. And if you look at, how can I put it, what this seemingly long football calendar has been like, because of the World Cup in the middle, what would you take out of it? What impressions do you have?

Patrick Kluivert:

Well, first of all, I think the most important thing is the World Cup that came in the middle of the season. Of course, it disrupted many competitions. I think it was a fantastic World Cup, because in this World Cup, you could watch three or four games in one day. It hasn't been so common. I was there myself and I had a fantastic experience in Qatar, but it interrupted the competition and in many countries the reaction was not so positive. But that's the way it is. There was the World Cup. It was a fantastic World Cup, if you ask me. But club football had an important break. And that break because of the World Cup, was good for some, but of course, was also bad for others, as you know.

Guillem Balagué:

Would you say, just before we get away from the World Cup, that the World Cup final was the… I'm going to go for it.... it's a big thing I'm about to say here... the best game ever? Would you say that?

Patrick Kluivert:

The final, you mean?

Guillem Balagué:

Yeah.

Patrick Kluivert:

Well, the final was amazing. I think, it was one of the best games in this season that I have watched not only because of the players that were in the both teams, but also the result and the way the game went, of course.

Guillem Balagué:

Were you there? During the final?

Patrick Kluivert:

Yes, I was there.

Guillem Balagué:

You've seen everything in football, and you've celebrated many things. You've cried because of many things. When you are a fan, and you are actually observing, witnessing what we were witnessing in that stadium, what were you feeling like? Were you as emotional as everybody else? Were you jumping up and down, or were just calmly analyzing what was going on?

Patrick Kluivert:

Well, actually both, because if you see that and, I think, that if you look at the game back there, it was a fantastic tournament, but the final was unbelievable. I mean, Mbappé scoring three goals in the final! Messi was doing the things that complemented his finishing career in Argentina national team, winning the Copa América, winning the World Cup. I mean, the circle for Messi is round and the way that the scoreboard was going on and off, on and off. I mean, it was a climax from here to wherever. I think that every fan of both countries was just freaking out. I think this was the game of the year, for sure.

Guillem Balagué:

And where do you stand in the debate that this World Cup confirms Messi is the best player in the world, ever?

Patrick Kluivert:

Yeah. That’s what I think. Of course, from the time that I was playing. But, of course, there is Maradona, Pele, Cruijff, you name them. But if you see, and with all respect to all the other great legends, what Messi achieves and has achieved - seven Golden Balls, I don't know how many Champions League trophies, World Cup, Copa América. He has won all the cups that a football player can win, and personal prizes, seven times, or even other prizes, as well. I consider Messi as one of the greatest, if not the greatest player ever.

Guillem Balagué:

What a pleasure to be a part of it, of his generation, for you and me to have witnessed so many of the games. There's somebody else that is, I believe, creating a new ground from the bench. That's Pep Guardiola. Manchester City is on the verge of doing something historical as well. So what's your take on Manchester City this season and the role of Pep Guardiola?

Patrick Kluivert:

Well, I think not only this season, but in the previous season, as well. Of course, everybody knows that it was very devastating what's happened with Arsenal, being all the time the first, with a lot of points of difference and, at the end, giving the championship away to Manchester City. Everybody knows that Pep is a fantastic coach. He also has the ability to create his team. He's got the money to buy the players, and he's got the vision of what kind of players he wants in his team to make his team play as good as possible. So I think that Pep not only did it with Barcelona, but also with Bayern Munich, and now also with Manchester City for such a long time. Ohh...'Chapeau'. You need to give the credits to Pep for maximizing the potential of all the players that he has in his team. I mean, if he makes a substitute, the player who comes in is on the same level as the one who's playing and that, I think, is a skill for a coach to keep the team together. And you know what they say, you win prizes with a really good bench, not only the first 11. You need to have 23 players at this level, especially in England, as you play 38 competition games and the FA Cup and you play a lot of games. And even if you are in the Champions League,there are even more matches coming in. So you play easy 60 matches, official matches for your team, and that's why you need to have a full powered squad and that's what Pep has.

Guillem Balagué:

Would you liked to be coached by Pep Guardiola? Would you enjoy that?

Patrick Kluivert:

Yes, of course. But I know, because I have played with him and back then, I already knew that he had a coach in himself and, of course, if I was a player, I would love to play under the wings of Pep Guardiola.

Guillem Balagué:

And you touched on what makes him different and special. The fact that he actually manages to get everybody involved and everybody believes that they have the right to be there, in the first 11. Obviously, due to a lot of quality that he's got in the squad, but what else, would you say, makes him different and unique, from that point of view?

Patrick Kluivert:

Well, of course, he played at that [high] level. He played the game. He knows what's going on in the minds of players, and what you just said: he's got 23 top players at his disposal. He also knows how to keep everybody alive, to keep everybody happy in the team. And that's what a coach who played on that level has. And also, I think that the players know that he was, at his time, when he's playing, also like an orchestra, he was already a captain and he can transmit very well what he wants from the players. And if you have everybody at 100% during a very long season, you get results. And that's what he shows and the players also show towards each other. I think that to get that bond, to get that one team block that Pep has created, over the years, that makes him special.

Guillem Balagué:

It is perhaps a bit early to ask this question, because we have to see what the rivals will do in terms of what players are going to come in, but do you see anybody being able to reach the Manchester City level or do you think, in the Premier League, can Arsenal challenge again? Can Manchester United get closer? Is there anybody, like your former team - Newcastle, who can challenge Manchester City? Or is it unreal and impossible to stop?

Patrick Kluivert:

Well… Manchester has the team, has the philosophy, but it's true that the other teams are coming and knocking on the door, as well as, what we've just said, Arsenal was very close to winning the championship in England. And I think that, next year, they'll be there as well. Of course, the Newcastle side did a fantastic job, if I may be honest, having a team, a structure. If you look at the team, there's not a one star who's blinking out. No, it's really one team and that's what I really fancy to see. They're really a strong team, a very powerful team. And I think that, yeah, that Arsenal… I hope that Chelsea's coming also next year, because it was a devastating year for Chelsea, of course. But, normally, Chelsea, Arsenal, Newcastle, Liverpool… they need to do something, because if not, Manchester we will keep on going and keep on winning the prizes. And I think that, with all the big teams that you have in the Premier League, next year, for sure, you will have a few other teams that will be making life more difficult for Manchester City. Manchester United, as well, need to improve and I think they will. So, you know, next year, I think it will be a very interesting to see how the other teams are coping with the strength of Manchester City.

Guillem Balagué:

Are you impressed with the work of your compatriot, Erik ten Hag, at Manchester United and how they started to look like a solid team again?

Patrick Kluivert:

Yeah, I'm very impressed. Of course, everybody knows the difficulties he had at the beginning, but he pushed his way of working in the club. And now, you know, all the players are getting the feeling of being united again and I hope that he will do good next year, as well.

Guillem Balagué:

Let's jump to other countries and let's go to Spain, where your beloved Barcelona won the league being in charge of somebody that you know very, very well, that is Xavier Hernández, of course. Let's start with Xavi. You talked about Pep, that you knew he would be the manager. And Xavi as well? You thought, “Yeah, he will make it as a manager”?

Patrick Kluivert:

Well… I'm exactly in the middle of those two, because Pep is a little bit older than me, and Xavi is a bit younger, but we've played in the same team. And, you know, Xavi was a kind of substitute of Pep, of course, in the same position. And I saw already that Xavi has, you know, a strategic mind in himself, and although he was younger, he had already the manager's mindset and I think that he showed his quality and, even though he didn't have the maximum of players that he wanted in the team of Barcelona, he did a good job. Although in the Champions League, it was not the best time, but in the Spanish league, he did a fantastic job and, you know, winning the cup and the champions, he did a great job. Great job.

Guillem Balagué:

I was surprised by such a strong defense, the best defense in Europe, and perhaps still miles away from the attack in Barcelona that we've seen in the past. Enough to win the league, but are you surprised by how he came about?

Patrick Kluivert:

Well.. of course, in the middle of the season, more or less, when Piqué went away, that was quite a big blow, because everybody knows Gerard’s qualities. And I think that, with Christensen and Araújo in the middle, they have a very good block and also with Koundé now in the team and Alonso in the team. They have the balance, in defense, of left-footers and right-footers, with Balde, now, with the left foot, who has lately played also on the right. They have a solid team with young and quick and strong. They have a very good balance, I think, and, if you look at defense and then midfield and offense… I think that the Barcelona squad is quite good balance and that's the task of the coach. This is the coach who did what he needed to do, what the team also needed. And then, then, you win a championship.

Guillem Balagué:

I have to read between the lines. You obviously talked about the midfield and the defense suggesting exactly what Xavi thinks, that they need more quality of front. They still got lots of very good players, but his obsession to get Gündoğan or Bernardo Silva is because he feels that, without Pedri, the team lacks that last pass. I don't know if you agree with me that that's his vision of what he needs to improve for next season.

Patrick Kluivert:

Pedri is, of course, a fantastic player. But you have now Frenkie de Jong, Gavi, those young players. But if you need to substitute them, it's different than in Manchester City, with all respect. Yeah, I understand that he wants to have probably more quality on the midfield. Now Busquets has gone away. It was a big, big blow. I think that Barcelona will manage to sign a good midfielder to be there or on the bench to have like four or five midfield players for three positions.

Guillem Balagué:

Up front, they have Lewandowski, somebody who, especially in the first half of the season, was exceptional. He adapted really well, but in the second half, it was a little bit harder for him. Do you think that he is a number nine that Barcelona needs, and what does he do to improve his performances even more?

Patrick Kluivert:

I think that Lewandowski is a fantastic player. It's not always easy, when you make a transfer to another club to score a lot of goals and to, you know, participate in a lot of goals. I think that the way Robert adapted himself is exceptional. He scored a lot of goals. I think he's one of the best goalscorers of the competition, but it also depends on how you get the balls. And you know, he's a striker, he can't do everything by himself. How he entered the team, how he was scoring a lot of important goals, as we said, shows that he is doing fantastic in the current Barcelona team.

Guillem Balagué:

​​

I think you would score about 25+ goals with this Barcelona squad because you used to link up, you moved around, you were very intelligent in your moves and others would take advantage of it. Do you think you would do that kind of records with the Barcelona in terms of goals?

Patrick Kluivert:

Well, if you look at the team, I probably would be between 20 and 25 for sure (laugh).

Guillem Balagué:

Yeah, no doubt (laugh).

Patrick Kluivert:

No, no doubt (laugh).

Guillem Balagué:

The rival in La Liga, Atlético Madrid, gave out very, very early, but they got a very strong squad, and they played very well the second half of the season. I don't know, if they continue in this form and with this more offensive style, do you see them challenging for the title or even winning the title next season?

Patrick Kluivert:

Well, as you've mentioned, they're already over it. And other competitors, I mean, Barcelona, Madrid, Atlético, Bilbao are also good teams. They can, of course. They have a very good team, a solid team. They've played with each other for a long time. And yeah, they are, every year, the competitors to win the league. But, yeah, I think that Real Madrid will improve some players next year and Barcelona perhaps as well. So it will always be a nice run between those three who always fight for the championship.

Guillem Balagué:

Real Madrid - they were talking about winning everything, and then, when they started not being able to do so, they talked about a transition.That's what they're doing - a transition in which young players are coming through. And it is, if you look at it, it is true with Valverde, Tchouaméni, Rodrygo, Vinícius, Camavinga, and Jude Bellingham. No more transition time for Real Madrid. Do you think this team is capable of winning everything with these youngsters and, little by little, the disappearance of the Kroos and Modrić generation?

Patrick Kluivert:

Well, the Kroos and Modrić generation, there's still this generation. If you look at those two, they didn't play that much in this competition, but when they do play, you see the quality and you see the style that they bring to this team. So I think that they will be still a part of the team. Of course, if Jude Bellingham is coming to Real Madrid, he will enter, and they need to make place for him, because that's the new generation and all the names that you said - Tchouaméni, Camavinga, Vinícius, Rodrygo. This is a fantastic team with players with a lot of quality. They're young, so they're preparing to play four, five, six years with each other. Real Madrid is Real Madrid. As a Barcelonista, I have to admit that they have a great team.

Guillem Balagué:

We've mentioned Jude Bellingham. I think it's exciting to think what he could do in La Liga, as he's a different type of midfielder, but he has been the best player of Bundesliga. He's been voted as such. He's got everything to succeed in Real Madrid, doesn't he?

Patrick Kluivert:

Well, you know, if you got good players around you, your style of play will be even better. And what he wanted to show in Borussia Dortmund was fantastic. And from my point of view, if you compare Dortmund with Real Madrid, Real Madrid has got four better players in the squad than Borussia Dortmund, with all respect. I think he will fit perfectly in Madrid.

Guillem Balagué:

Let's jump to Italy and one of the romantic stories, if you like, of the season was to see Napoli winning. I don't know if you have been to Napoli two months before the end of the season. They were celebrating. Everything there was all blue and white, the whole city, because they have been desperate, of course, to reach the 'Scudetto'. I know, obviously, Napoli was a rival of yours for many years. How did you feel about them winning and the way they did it?

Patrick Kluivert:

Well, I think the way they did it was exceptional, after a long time without championship. For them, it's like winning the Champions League. And the way that they did it, in particular, with those two players like Osimhen and Kvaratskhelia. If you look at the statistics of what they did for the team, I think both of them took 70 or 80% of the goals and assists. Those two players were amazing. I think that is the same as, a little bit, Newcastle. The team was so good and compact, they fought for every inch on the pitch. Winning important games against big clubs gave them the eagerness and the power to think of winning the championship. And what they did was amazing. I think, the whole Napoli, the fans, were so excited. If you look how they celebrated the championship, it was amazing, and they deserved to win, they deserved to win the championship.

Guillem Balagué:

As a football man, I wonder what you think of Luciano Spalletti saying, “I've got to leave, I've got to rest. I'm going out for a year, just going to do nothing.” having the possibility not only to celebrate one more year and challenge for the title again, but also going into the Champions League. He's stepping aside because of mental and physical demands of being right at the top. Do you understand that?

Patrick Kluivert:

Well, he knows his body and I think that he listens to his body. It was a very, very difficult year, although he won the championship. Maybe he did too much to his heart. You only have one heart. And, of course, as a coach, you win the championship and you want to play the Champions League. That's one thing for sure. But he doesn't make this decision for nothing. He knows his body and probably he worked so hard this year to achieve what he wanted to achieve that he knows perhaps that next year, he won't be able to get the achievement he did this year. It's a bit strange, but, as I said, he knows what his body is asking for and that's why he listens to his body.

Guillem Balagué:

It must be so hard to resign at such a moment, but there must be something telling him that he's got to stop, and what a brave decision that is.

Patrick Kluivert:

Nobody would have made the same decision in his position, I think.

Guillem Balagué:

Italy have got three teams in finals. Roma lost the Europa League, Fiorentina in the Conference and of course Inter in the Champions League final. I've got to discuss that with my friends from the Italian press. They say “this is the renaissance of Italian football, you're going to see Italian football at the top for many years” and I'm thinking, it feels like a little bit of an accident. So where do you stand in this debate?

Patrick Kluivert:

Well, first of all, the three teams are not for nothing in the finals. That means that they deserve to be there. Everybody knows the “Catenaccio” - the defensive play and not getting so much offensive football. It's true. We saw that. We saw it in the final of the Europa League. Rome played quite defensively, but, you know, their front with Dybala, with Abraham who score a goal in any kind of situation plus what Paulo did, of course. Perhaps it's about the system, which can be also very offensive. So I wouldn't say that’s the line of the system. But as I said, you have the three great clubs in three different finals in Europe, so it could be that they wake up and the next year they will be there. But I have my doubts, like you.

Guillem Balagué:

I was going to defend my position a little bit, because that goes into the next question as well. Quite clearly now, the best players of Serie A don't get paid as much as they will get paid if they go to the Premier League and they will get the interest of those clubs in the Premier League. So talent will end up going away, which makes those teams a little bit weaker. So it may just have been a good combination of good players and good managers and good campaigns and competitive teams who are very well-structured. All that happening at the same time because it feels like, more and more, European football is becoming a bit more predictable and the likes of Ajax, Club Brugge, Anderlecht, Celtic and Rangers cannot get to the top of the scale in the Champions League. Is it something that we need to change or, you know, this is just how it is going to be?

Patrick Kluivert:

Well, I think that clubs that you've mentioned - Ajax, Club Brugge etc., they for sure can't compare with the money that they have in the Premier League. Italy has specific players, as well and as you said, if those quality players are going away, they will go for a new challenge, probably in a bigger club because that's what the bigger clubs are looking for. They're looking at the top players in the teams who are in the final and the decisive matches of the teams. Yeah, and I think that if you those top players of the Italian clubs, of the Dutch clubs go away, their former teams are getting weaker and the new teams who are getting those players are getting stronger and that's, you know, that's the circle that we're in. If top players don't get paid what they want to be paid, and they will get paid in a top team in another country, they will make the decision to go there.

Guillem Balagué:

Talking about players, do you think, having been in the Cristiano Ronaldo and Messi decade, which has been like 15 years, that the next decade is going to be Haaland, Mbappé, Vinicius? That those are the three players that will fight for the Ballon d'Or?

Patrick Kluivert:

Well, one of them, for sure, will have the Ballon d'Or. At the moment, those three players are really dictating European football, even in their national teams. They're there. They're amazing. So, yeah, those three players are going to be the pioneers of the next generation. But there will be another player joining them soon.

Guillem Balagué:

How about new talents in football? We've mentioned Pedri, Jude Bellingham, Kwaracchelia, you've mentioned Musiala, Bukayo Saka as well... Who are you looking forward to see? How about Justin Kluivert?

Patrick Kluivert:

Oh, my son is doing good. He was, unfortunately, injured a couple of weeks ago. But now, I think, when he plays, he makes his team play more vertical. He's quite agile, scoring goals. And, of course, you've got the new talents coming in. Bellingham, as I said, Bukayo Saka. But for me, Musiala is one of the fantastic players. I really like this player and how he manages to come out of situations when things are getting difficult. He's a very good player to watch out for in the next season, because the next season, he will play for sure, like this year in the first 11, although he's quite young, but for me he is a fantastic player.

Guillem Balagué:

Patrick, as always, it's been a pleasure to catch up with you. Thank you.

Patrick Kluivert:

Thank you very much.

Many thanks to our ambassador Patrick Kluivert for this interview, and to our partner bet365, where you can use our bet365 bonus code to enjoy great offers

Comments (7)
JohnnyBas
JohnnyBas 7 months ago
smiley Nice!
Play responsibly 18+