Created on 10-07-2014 at 15:15 PM
23 May 2001, ‘A good day to make history’ as the FCB faithful announced in a never-to-be-forgotten fan choreography. It was the day Bayern secured a 5-4 win on penalties against Valencia in the Champions League final in Milan. Juan Bernat was just eight years old back then but already on the books at the Spanish club. “Of course, I don’t have very good memories of that match,” explained the Spain U-21 international, “but it’s all changed since then.”
The bitter defeat did not have a negative effect on the starlet’s career development. He graduated through all the youth teams at Valencia, became a junior international and last season went on to become the undisputed first choice on the left side of the Valencia defence. Impressive performances brought him to the attention of top European clubs, and 13 years after the triumph at Giuseppe Meazza Stadium, Bayern came in with a bid.
Left winger by trade
“Bayern gave me the opportunity to come here. I didn’t need long to think about it,” explained Bernat, who said he was “full of commitment and anticipation” at his unveiling to the media at the Säbener Strasse. He did admit he was “slightly nervous” ahead of the new challenges awaiting him. However, the prevailing emotion was one of pleasure at the prospect of playing for “one of the biggest clubs in the world, a title-winning club. I’m very happy to be here,” said Bernat who was accompanied by his parents, twin sister and his brother.
Sporting director Matthias Sammer described Bernat as a player with “very, very good prospects.” The left winger has increasingly played in a more defensive role in recent years. Bernat is now considered to be one of the most talented full backs in Spain and has already been compared with full international Jordi Alba, who is four years older and also started out in the youth set-up at Valencia. “We’ve got similar capabilities and the comparison makes me feel a bit proud,” declared Bernat.
Not just back-up for the left flank
FCB recognised the “great ability” of the 1.72 metre Spaniard and Sammer believes he “will be able to improve here with us.” In addition to evident talent, his history also played a key part in the signing. “He grew up at Valencia and he knows all about identification and identity,” said Sammer before emphasising that Bernat is “not just back-up for the left flank.”
“We hope he can adapt quickly and become a reliable option for us.” Coach Pep Guardiola will have “the best sense” of where to play the new signing to the greatest effect. Bernat named his fellow Spaniard as one of the main reasons for his move to Germany. “I’m an enthusiastic supporter of Pep’s philosophy and I hope I can learn a lot from him.”
He wants to learn German “as quickly as possible” to be able to communicate with all his team-mates. Until then, his fellow countrymen Thiago and Javi Martínez plus the South Americans in the squad can help him settle. Bernat has an initial contract at Bayern to the summer of 2019. That gives him time to write himself into the history of his new club.