Van Bronckhorst still had a year left on his contract at Barcelona, but he had a verbal agreement with the club’s president that he could leave on a free if he went to Feyenoord. Peter Bosz has been in regular contact with the Rotterdam-born Van Bronckhorst over the past few months, and the player finally decided to join the club last week.
‘It’s a really great day,’ the midfielder smiled during his presentation. ‘It’s good to be back.’ Van Bronckhorst left Feyenoord nine years ago to try his luck abroad. ‘I’ve achieved success in those nine years I could only dream of before. Now was the right moment to come back to Feyenoord.’
Van Bronckhorst is not the first new arrival this summer to tell the assembled press that he followed his heart in opting for Feyenoord. ‘I never lost my feeling for Feyenoord. I’ve always known I’d return some day. I also wanted to get back to Holland for my family. The situation at Barcelona played a role too. I played some fantastic games for that club and won a lot of trophies, but I didn’t know how things would stand next year. Barcelona certainly had plans for me, but it seemed to me to be the best moment to leave. Right now I still have the strength to make a meaningful contribution at Feyenoord.’
The player was wooed in part by an assurance that, all things being equal, he would be given a role in midfield. ‘I’m naturally a midfielder through and through,’ commented Van Bronckhorst, ‘although I have played left back at Barcelona over the past few years. I played in midfield recently again for the Dutch side and I have to say I enjoyed it.’
Van Bronckhorst was not willing to set any targets for the approaching campaign. ‘Last season was obviously not a good one for Feyenoord, but I think the club is well on the way to putting together a good team for the coming season. But we’ll have to start from scratch. It’s about performing consistently; we’ll see where we end up at the end of the season.’
Technical manager Peter Bosz was clearly thrilled to capture Van Bronckhorst. ‘Giovanni fits in with our plans fantastically. His arrival shows what we are doing at Feyenoord. We have a nucleus of talented young players that need to be guided by older players with more experience. Giovanni has shown, not least as captain of the Dutch team, that he has those leadership capacities. The fact that he’s also one of Feyenoord’s own will delight everyone that supports this club.’
Van Bronckhorst will be given the number eight jersey and he’ll have his full surname printed on the back, contrary to his Barcelona days, when he played under a nickname. ‘I would have preferred to have my surname on my shirt then too, but the name was difficult for Spaniards to pronounce, so I played with Gio on my shirt.’