“Anfield, I’m excited to see you again.”
Whether Liverpool fans are looking forward to running into Luis Suarez, of course, is another matter entirely.
Suarez scored as the Catalans racked up a 3-0 first-leg lead at Camp Nou last week, and was an obvious pick as the Liga champions completed their post-match media duties on Monday evening.
He didn’t speak much during his time at Anfield – he would simply laugh when approached by journalists in the mixed zone – but here, with the cameras rolling and the bulbs flashing, the 32-year-old was on good form.
His family are over for this game. They don’t usually attend Champions League games, but given their history with Liverpool, they felt they had to be there.
“I will always be grateful to Liverpool for my time here,” Suarez said, choosing his words carefully. Later, he would describe the day he first captained the Reds – in a 5-0 win at Tottenham in December 2013 – as “one of the proudest moments of my career.”
Charm offensive? Suarez was at his prickly best in the first leg, winding up Liverpool’s players and supporters throughout. His celebrations after scoring the opening goal, of course, left some fans irritated - even if most sensible observers understood.
“Anyone who knows football, and who loves this sport, knows what it meant to me to score in a Champions League semi-final,” he said when asked about it. “I have all the respect in the world for Liverpool fans.”
He did, however, suggest he would take a more tactful approach should he net at Anfield.
“I am very thankful to the fans and the club,” he said. “And it is clear that if I score a goal I won’t celebrate it in the same way, like I did in Holland [when scoring for Ajax against Groningen]."
Liverpool, of course, hope he won’t have to make that decision. Suarez, like team-mate Philippe Coutinho, can expect a mixed reception from a crowd desperate to will their team towards the most unlikely of fightbacks.
“I think there will be more applause than whistles,” Suarez said, perhaps optimistically. He scored 82 times in 133 appearances for Liverpool, and never gave less than 100 per cent in doing so. Some of the memories he gave Reds fans will live forever.
But the manner of his departure - he was banished to train with the reserves by Brendan Rodgers in the summer of 2013 having tried, unsuccessfully, to force a transfer to Arsenal - sits uncomfortably with many.
“I was here for three-and-a-half years and the team had been four or five years without being in the Champions League,” he pointed out.
“And in the last year I was here we qualified. So I think people know the work I did here.
“I think if people want to whistle and that makes them happy... there may be quite a few who are not happy but I think there will be more who are happy and grateful.
“I think you see the people in the kitchen [at Melwood] are waiting to give me a present for my children so you see the love that is still there and the warmth that is still there for me.”
Whether that warmth is transmitted on Tuesday night, of course, remains to be seen. There is business to take care of first. Sentiment can wait.
Suarez knows that better than anyone.