Munich - FC Bayern München's gradually expanding Spanish faction gained a further member this summer with the arrival of Juan Bernat from Valencia CF on a five-year contract, a move down in no small part to the influence of a compatriot already making waves in the Bavarian capital.
“I'm a huge Pep fan. I like his philosophy, it harmonises very well with my own playing style,” Bernat enthused on the subject of the FC Bayern head coach. The youngster's own proven box-to-box versatility down the flank meanwhile evidently ticks the right boxes for Pep Guardiola in turn.
Trained up as a left-sided attacking midfielder by Valencia, whom he joined as a six-year-old, Bernat's real breakthrough came when he was switched to left-back for the 2013/14 campaign. Arriving in Munich with 51 top-flight appearances racked up since his Primera Division debut in 2011, he said that he feels “very comfortable in both positions”.
In his hometown of Cullera, just south of Valencia, he is often viewed as a player much in the mould of Spain's top current left-back Jordi Alba. No great fan of such comparisons as a rule, Bernat did nonetheless concede to bundesliga.com: “We do have a similar style and were both at Valencia for a long time." At any rate, when Alba joined FC Barcelona in 2012, a teenage Juan was not long stepping into his boots for Los Che.
No stranger to success
By that stage he already had a first international title under his belt, having just helped Spain to victory at the 2012 UEFA European U-19 Championships. A handful of appearances for the U-20s and U-21s followed in 2013, before Bernat marked his full international debut in October 2014 with the final goal of the game in La Furia Roja's 4-0 win over Luxembourg.
Bernat's arrival at the Allianz Arena has helped open up fresh horizons for Austria international David Alaba, as sporting director Matthias Sammer was quick to point out at the 21-year-old's official unveiling: “The idea is that with him on board, we have Alaba available for other positions as well.” One way or another, Bernat is a player clearly cut from a similar cloth to 1996 European Footballer of the Year Sammer himself: “He plays like he talks - he's quick, concise and incisive.”