The former Real Betis director has revealed his admiration for his former player ahead of their Champions League reunion on Tuesday night.
Barcelona head coach Quique Setien has confessed to having’a great deal of affection’ for Napoli midfielder Fabian Ruiz.
The group worked together at Real Betis, with Setien giving the young Spaniard a prominent role before Napoli triggered his release clause in the summer of 2018.
They are now reunited as Setien — currently handling Barcelona — travels to Naples for a Champions League round of 16 first-leg clash.
“I have plenty of affection for Fabian, he’s had spectacular growth, I am pleased for him, I expect that tomorrow he won’t reveal all of his virtues so we can stop him,” Setien stated in his pre-match media conference. “I am content with his goals, he’s tremendously humble and a gorgeous person.”
Setien also insisted that despite the strength of the competitors, he and his side are prepared and motivated to conquer the challenge before them.
“We expect the very best edition of Napoli,” he continued. “It is going to be a contested match.
“I think we’ve got a very nice and very positive dynamic. We’ve had some really tough games lately, and we’ve overcome them really well. I believe we’re having a fantastic time.
“It is my first Champions League game, it is a particular motivation, it is emotional for me to begin this trip in a stadium like this, filled with history and passion. It’ll be an exciting match.
“I’m flattered by the words of [Napoli boss Gennaro] Gattuso, it is pride he said [good things] about my job.
“I don’t know whether it takes us six or eight minutes to recover the ball, but a significant part of our system is to recover the ball whenever possible.
“We’ll go out with the intent of scoring an away goal, be it with less or more midfielders, we are not going to break our intention. We’ll attempt to be courageous.”
Barcelona face competitions Real Madrid in their next game after playing Napoli, but Setien was convinced it wouldn’t be a diversion from the task at hand.
“El Clasico? There are two contests that we would like to confront with the maximum guarantees, we’re in a fantastic moment, tomorrow we confront Napoli with electricity, then in the Clasico we’ll attempt to do the same.”