'I knew what to do to become a complete player' - Barcelona's Aitana Bonmati, the best player in Europe this season
Has there been a better player in Europe this season than Barcelona midfielder Aitana Bonmati? Arguably not. No one has been involved in more goals in the Women's Champions League, with the 25-year-old topping the assist charts and is only being outscored by Wolfsburg's Ewa Pajor - a striker.
Such contributions have helped Barca reach a fifth successive European semi-final, in which they will take on English champions Chelsea this weekend in the first leg at Stamford Bridge.
But it's not just this year that Bonmati has caught the eye. For several seasons, with her attacking talents complemented by qualities on the other side of the ball, she has been up there as one of the world's best. Indeed, it's not rare to see her pop up in her own box with a goal-saving tackle.
"Three or four years ago, I decided that if I wanted to be a complete player, I had to do those things also," she tells GOAL. "Not only score and make assists, but also do defensive tasks to help the team."
Has she got the individual recognition she deserves in that time? Certainly not. The midfielder wasn't even nominated for the Ballon d'Or when Barca won the Champions League in 2021, and then finished a distant fifth in the 2022 voting despite a superb season being backed up by an excellent European Championship.
But that is not Bonmati's priority. Her goal is to win with her team and, with 12 major honours to her name already, she's certainly been doing that.
Now, with Barca just two games away from a fourth Champions League final in five years, the technically gifted Catalan wants to continue along that prosperous path...