Martin Braithwaite went from Boro to Barca and now wants to ruin Xavi’s New Year

Martin Braithwaite is ready to put Denmark's World Cup woes behind him and spoil the New Year's Eve celebrations of former side Barcelona.

The 31-year-old forward, who scored nine goals for Middlesbrough across two Championship seasons between 2017 and 2019, was a surprise signing for the Catalan giants back in 2020.

Having scored 10 goals across his 58 fixtures while playing a back-up role before the arrival of Robert Lewandowski, Braithwaite joined local rivals Espanyol where he has hit the ground running.

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The striker, who was considered to be Barcelona's richest player thanks to his real estate investments, has scored three goals across his nine La Liga outings before his return to domestic action on December 31.

Following a disappointing World Cup campaign with Denmark, which followed their Euro 2020 heroics, Braithwaite is now looking ahead to a clash against his former team-mates.

The former Toulouse and Leganes star has admitted that talk of the Derbi Barceloni was even present while he was in Qatar, as is the importance in Spain.

Taking part in a media call with La Liga, Braithwaite told Daily Star Sport: "When I was at the World Cup I received a message that I had a couple of interviews waiting for me when I came back and I knew everything was about the derby.

"Within days I made my first interview and people started to talk. Of course there is a lot of talk about it, which is normal. Part of life and football is passion.

"You have people living in the same city so of course they want to have their team winning when they go into the office and they meet their colleagues. It's going to be an exciting game."

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Braithwaite also spoke about the date of the fixture in question, knowing a win would be a big bonus for celebrating Espanyol fans – and a blow for his former boss Xavi.

He added: "If you win, what an evening you can have. We want to give and amazing New Year's Eve to the fans and do something special."

Braithwaite played just twice under Xavi before his free transfer across the city, signing a three-year deal with Diego Martinez and his team now battling relegation.

Braithwaite spoke to the media regarding recovery from World Cup fatigue having played in Denmark's Group D defeats against both France and Australia.

CA Osasuna fitness coach Sergi Perez also gave an insight into his own work during the mid-season break, saying: "It's almost the start of a new competition because you've broken the dynamic.

"We all have a question mark of how we are going to get started and what condition the team is in compared to rival teams. It's the same feeling you have in August."


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