Barca boss Setien admits to having 'a lot of affection' for Napoli's Fabian Ruiz

Fabian Ruiz NapoliGetty Images

Barcelona head coach Quique Setien has admitted to having ‘a lot of affection' for Napoli midfielder Fabian Ruiz.

The pair worked together at Real Betis, with Setien giving the young Spaniard a prominent role before Napoli triggered his release clause in the summer of 2018.

They will now be reunited as Setien – now managing Barcelona – travels to Naples for a Champions League round of 16 first-leg clash.

"I have a lot of affection for Fabian, he has had spectacular growth, I'm very happy for him, I hope that tomorrow he will not show all his virtues so we can stop him,” Setien said in his pre-match press conference. “I am happy with his goals, he is tremendously humble and a beautiful person.”

Setien also insisted that despite the strength of their opponents, he and his side are ready and motivated to overcome the challenge ahead of them.

"We expect the best version of Napoli,” he continued. “It will be a disputed game.

"I think we have a very good and very positive dynamic. We have had some really tough games in recent weeks, and we have overcome them very well. I think we're having a good time.

"It's my first Champions League game, it's a special motivation, it's emotional for me to start this journey in a stadium like this, full of passion and history. It will be an exciting game.

"I am flattered by the words of [Napoli boss Gennaro] Gattuso, it's a pride that he said [good things] about my work.

"I don't know if it takes us six or eight seconds to recover the ball, but an important part of our system is to recover the ball as soon as possible.

"We will go out with the intention of scoring an away goal, be it with more or less midfielders, we will not break our intention. We will try to be brave.”

Barcelona face rivals Real Madrid in their next game after playing Napoli, but Setien was sure that it would not be a distraction from the task at hand.

"El Clasico? There are two competitions that we want to face with the maximum guarantees, we are in a good moment, tomorrow we face Napoli with energy, then in the Clasico we will try to do the same."