Barcelona star, Lucas Digne has claimed that the dethroned La Liga giants were better than bitter rivals and champions Real Madrid last season.
Barca were dethroned by Madrid in 2016-17 – their quest for three consecutive Spanish titles ended after finishing three points off the pace in Luis Enrique’s final season in charge at Camp Nou.
Digne, however, insists the season – which delivered Supercopa de Espana and Copa del Rey trophies – was not that bad, as he pointed to Barca’s superior statistics in La Liga while looking ahead to the possibility of more significant silverware under new head coach Ernesto Valverde.
Barca scored 116 goals and conceded 37 in 38 league matches, compared to Madrid’s 106-41 ratio.
Speaking to Omnisport, left-back Digne said: “It felt good to finish the season like we started it – winning a trophy.
“I felt as a part of the team from day one as I was playing in both games against Sevilla, securing the Super Copa in our first two games of the season. That was a fantastic start. And then we won the second trophy in the Copa del Rey final in the last game of the season.
“Still that is not enough for a club like Barca of course. We need bigger titles. I am looking forward to winning many more trophies and big titles in the future with Barca.
“The season was not that bad when you look at the facts. We were the hghest scoring team in Europe’s big leagues, and compared directly to our main rival, the stats show that we had both a better attack and a better defence when you look at the whole La Liga season. Very small things make the difference.
“For example: If they had not scored their equaliser in the last minute of the Clasico at Camp Nou, we would have won the league – not them. But that’s football. It’s just to explain how close it was.”
Luis Enrique was instrumental in Digne’s move to Barcelona in 2016-17, luring the Frenchman to the Catalan giants from Paris Saint-Germain.
“I will be forever thankful to the club and to Luis Enrique for bringing me to the greatest club in the world,” he added.
“From the moment I heard of their interest, there was only one club I wanted to join, because it was always my boyhood dream to play here.
“Now it is up to me to work hard and develop myself as a player, because obviously nobody is the finished article as a 23-year-old. My ambition is to make an impact here and to be part of a great future for this club, and now I am looking forward to playing for – and learning from – Ernesto Valverde. [I] can’t wait for next season to start to be honest.”
In his first season at Camp Nou, Digne played 26 matches, helping to keep 13 clean sheets.
Digne was also selected in the most match squads at Barca – 56 – ahead of the likes of Luis Suarez, Lionel Messi and Neymar, as he vied with Jordi Alba for the starting left-back position.
While the dust may have settled after his debut campaign in Catalunya, Digne is determined to make the left-back spot his own in his bid for Barca glory.
“I am very happy with my first season,” Digne said. “Maybe this emotion inside of me tells it all: My holiday has just started recently after my game for France against England [a 3-2 win in an international friendly], so it may sound a bit strange, but I simply can’t wait to come back for the pre-season in July. Holiday is great, but playing in Barcelona is a dream.
“It makes me want to do everything for the club, climb mountains or run through a wall if that helps.”
Digne, who only played in two losing teams last term, continued: “I feel I have adapted well to the Barca style of football – the stats prove that – and I have also played some very big games.
“I always want more – just like my club. I want to play more in the future and win many titles with Barcelona, but I also respect how extreme the level of this clubs is, and I know, that as a 23-year-old, you will not play every game of the season.
“If you want to play in a club like Barca, you must have big ambitions and be ready to give everything you have to achieve them.
“But you also have to understand how big this club is, and how many great players Barca have. I was only 22 when I signed with Barca last summer, so I came here to be a part of the team from day one of course, but also to be part of the next Barca generation.”