Barcelona defender Aleix Vidal has backed Pep Guardiola’s decision to stop overweight players training with the Manchester City first team – and admitted even he came back too big this summer.
Spain international Vidal insists Guardiola is only following the basic rules as City bid to reclaim the Premier League title they last won in 2014.
Gael Clichy has revealed those who are too heavy are forced to burn off the extra pounds before they can link up with the squad at City as ex- Barca boss Guardiola makes his mark after joining this summer.
Vidal, 26, dismissed any suggestions it was out of the ordinary, saying : “It’s normal after two months out over the summer you are going to come back a little bit unfit, put on a little bit of weight.
“It’s the same as with me but I’ve worked really hard to get in shape. It’s the obligation of Pep as a manager to make sure his players are in peak physical condition.
“I have been fit all summer and I hope to start the season as fit as I can be.”
Barca are training at St George’s Park in Burton ahead of their International Champions Cup match against Celtic in Dublin on Saturday before they face Leicester in Stockholm next Wednesday.
Vidal, signed by the Liga champions from Sevilla in 2015, believes the games will be perfect preparation for the Champions League and expects Guardiola and new Chelsea boss Antonio Conte to bring an extra edge for English clubs in Europe.
He said: “The Premier League is the most equal league in Europe because of the way the money is distributed. In the football sense Spanish teams are a little above them but with the new managers coming in there’s a chance they will get up to the level of the Spanish teams and improve this season.
“The main reason they might improve is the tactical nous which is going to come into the league with Guardiola and Conte. English teams have always had the physical aspect but with this extra tactical intelligence they could get up the levels.”
Vidal is expected to be a key player for the Catalan giants after Dani Alves joined Juventus on a free transfer in the summer after eight years at the Nou Camp.
He added: “For me Dani Alves is one of the best full-backs in the world. I see it as more of a challenge. It’s a difficult challenge because we have Sergi Roberto as well who was ahead of me last season. My challenge is to get that No.1 spot but I have to compete with Sergi as well.”