Sergi Roberto insists he never had any intention of leaving Barcelona after officially signing a new contract with the LaLiga leaders.
The 26-year-old – who started out his career playing in midfield but more recently has been converted into a right-back – revealed he had dismissed interest from other clubs to pledge his future to Barca until 2022.
A regular under head coach Ernesto Valverde this season, Roberto has helped his boyhood club establish a seven-point lead over nearest rivals Atletico Madrid at the top of the table.
“Since I started talking about the renewal, I wanted to be here. It’s my club,” he said at a press conference at Camp Nou.
“It’s true that other teams were interested, but I wanted to be here and I’m happy to have renewed until 2022. And, if I can go on for longer, even better.”
President Josep Maria Bartomeu praised the loyalty shown by Roberto, who joined Barcelona at the age of 14.
“Sergi’s an example for many players. We are grateful for his patience, his perseverance,” he said.
“He’s had and will have a lot of offers, but we’re thankful that he’s decided to stay here.”
@SergiRoberto10: “I have always wanted to be here, I have been a Barça fan since I was little. I have been at Barça for 12 years and my objective is to stay as long as possible”
— FC Barcelona (@FCBarcelona) February 22, 2018
With his long-term future sorted, Roberto has now set his sights on forcing his way into Spain’s squad in time for this year’s World Cup.
He won the last of his three caps in September 2016, but believes there is still time to impress Julen Lopetegui and secure a place in the party for Russia.
“Of course, it would be a dream to go to the World Cup,” Roberto said.
“It’s really close now and I hope to get lucky and that the coach counts on me, because it’s what every player wants.
“I hope Julen Lopetegui gives me the chance to be at the World Cup. At the very least, I am going to work hard for it.”
The career of @SergiRoberto10 is an example for our young players. Modesty, persistence, identification and talent define a 100% blaugrana path, His contract extension until 2022 reinforces the FC Barcelona sporting project #SergiRoberto2022pic.twitter.com/1CqfoGSIk7
— Josep Maria Bartomeu (@jmbartomeu) February 22, 2018