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Premier League • England

Barcelona chief explains how he knew Aubameyang and Prem pair couldn’t fail after moving

Barcelona trio Aubameyang, Frenkie de Jong and Ferran Torres

Barcelona chief Jordi Cruyff explained how he knew signing Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Ferran Torres and Adama Traore in January weren’t gambles.

None of that trio Barcelona signed in January were regular starters at their respective clubs prior to moving. Aubameyang had been exiled from Arsenal’s first-team following a disciplinary breach late last year. The Gabon superstar had not played for the Gunners since December 6 before moving to Spain almost two months later.

Torres had been sidelined with a metatarsal fracture at Man City after starting the season brightly. However, he was an unused substitute in his final three league matches for the club.

Traore, meanwhile, was in and out of Bruno Lage’s Wolves side. Seemingly gone were the days when the speedster was entrusted with a start from the off week in week out.

But that didn’t stop Barcelona from pouncing for all three in the winter window and the trio have all hit the ground running.

Traore has four assists to his name in limited action, while Ferran Torres has six goals and five assists respectively. Aubameyang has been the biggest success story, plundering nine goals from his first 11 outings.

The ex-Arsenal marksman also bagged a brace as Barca thumped bitter rivals Real Madrid 4-0 last week.

Now, speaking to the Guardian, Barca chief Jordi Cruyff explained why he advised the club to target Premier League players specifically.

Aubameyang and co. have “acquired certain habits”

Jordi became Barca’s sporting adviser in September before later being named director of international football. He has quickly advanced to become the club’s de facto technical secretary.

The son of legendary Dutch striker Johan reckons that despite not being regular starters, the advantages of years of experience in the higher intensity English game made the Prem trio safe signings.

“The winter market is difficult because clubs aren’t going to loan you a regular starter,” Cruyff said.

“You have players who are not playing so much but the Premier League is such a high tempo, more physically intense, that the player who has been there a few years has acquired certain habits, conditions.

“It’s not that we wouldn’t have looked at a good player from another league. But it was safer from England because you know they have the intensity built in.

“It wasn’t the key but it was a useful bonus.”

Since the January window closed, Barcelona have embarked on an 11-match unbeaten run, winning eight.