Rafa Marquez rejuvenated by training with Barcelona

After a rough 2011 season, the Mexican international looks motivated to prove his value and revealed to Goal.com that after spending some time with Barca, he's ready to deliver.
By Alex Labidou

New York Red Bulls star has expressed his delight in training once more with his former team-mates at Barcelona, explaining that he felt rejuvenated after his time with the Blaugrana and was ready for a successful 2012.

After a difficult time in 2011, the Mexican international is determined to prove his value - starting with his first appearance of the season on Sunday. Returning to the place where he won two La Liga and two Champions League trophies, Marquez trained over the winter with Barcelona B; where he reconnected with Pep Guardiola and some of the former team-mates with whom he shared so many happy memories.

"It always special to go back home and see your friends and people that you've played with. It was a great experience," Marquez told Goal.com while visiting the Empire State Building on Friday.

"I have fond memories of my time there and it was good to go back at least for a brief time."

Prior to his decision to spend time with the Catalan club over the winter, it appeared as though Marquez had one foot out of the door with the Red Bulls. But the defender stated that Guardiola and his former Barca teammates closely follow his progress with the Red Bulls, which helped him feel more comfortable in his new home.

"Of course, they follow what's been going on over here. They have a very good idea of what's happening," Marquez said.

Red Bulls head coach Hans Backe has made no secret that he expects much more from Marquez this season. Marquez's superb passing should help a team that has struggled to create and his positioning as holding midfielder will likely pay dividends on defense as well.

Enjoying life in the Big Apple, Marquez acknowledges that his Red Bulls' future could be determined on how he plays this season.

"Considering everything, I realize what I need to do," said Marquez. "I need to deliver [this season]. I'm excited by [the challenge]."