Barcelona’s players have learned from last season’s struggles and are extra motivated to succeed in the upcoming campaign, according to defender Sergino Dest.
The Catalan giants registered their lowest points tally (73) last season since 2007-2008 (67), seeing them finish a distant second to fierce rivals Real Madrid.
Barca also failed to reach the knockout stages of the Champions League for the first time since 2003-04, while falling well short in the Copa del Rey and Supercopa de Espana.
Finishing as runners-up provided some cause for satisfaction, however, given they were ninth in November when Xavi replaced Ronald Koeman.
Xavi’s side will now look to challenge Madrid for the LaLiga title this season, having added Franck Kessie, Andreas Christensen and Raphinha to their squad this window.
While further new arrivals are anticipated, with Bayern Munich’s Robert Lewandowski a target, Dest accepts that those at the club from last season must step up.
“I feel like we are Barca, so everybody expects us to be the best,” United States international Dest told reporters. “That’s true – you can’t play here if you don’t have any quality.
“So I feel like from all the games, the difficult games we lost last year, we definitely learned from it. This is going to be a different season.”
Dest has spent the past two seasons at Barca, having joined from Ajax in a worth an initial €21million, and has made 70 appearances in all competitions.
That is a tally bettered only by seven other Barcelona players since his debut in October 2020, though he was restricted to just 23 starts last season after being hit by injuries.
And with Qatar 2022 now on the horizon, the full-back has plenty of reasons to hit the ground running this campaign.
“Everyone’s extra motivated because of the World Cup,” he said. “Everybody wants to play and prove themselves.
“I think we’re just going to have a great season and try to learn from the games we lost last year.”
Barcelona have gone three seasons without winning LaLiga, which is a far cry from the eight titles won in an decade of dominance between 2008-09 and 2018-2019.
Having spent the whole of that period coming through the youth ranks at Barca, defender Eric Garcia is eager to help his side return to the top.
“Barcelona made the generation that was seen, at the time, as something unique,” said Garcia, who returned to Catalonia last year following three years with Manchester City.
“We are here to obviously return the club to where it needs to be, with a lot of ambition, with a lot of desire.
“We are young people combined with people who have been in the club for a long time at a very high level, and between all of us, we are all in the same mindset.
“We are eager to get the club back to where it deserves as well as that win that it deserves. From there, we will be fine.”