Mexico international Julian Araujo opened up on his whirlwind year moving from Major League Soccer to La Liga, revealing he quickly learned the differences between the two divisions in order to adapt.
Araujo has started to settle in at UD Las Palmas since joining at the beginning of the 2023/24 season, after his life drastically changed since the start of the calendar year. The 22-year-old accepted an offer to move to Barcelona in the winter transfer window, but saw his paperwork completed 18 seconds too late – missing the deadline to play for the first team last season.
Though his transfer was eventually completed in mid-February, leaving MLS before the 2023 campaign kicked off, he trained under Mexican icon Rafa Marquez for Barca Atletic in the months after moving to Catalonia.
Without making a first team appearance for Barcelona, Araujo made the decision to join UD Las Palmas on loan at the start of the current season – where he is now getting first team minutes in LaLiga. He featured in last weekend’s huge win over Atletico Madrid from the bench and even opened his goalscoring account for the club in the Copa del Rey.
Las Palmas are enjoying their season so far following promotion from the second tier in May, and while those within the club are focused on staying in the division in the immediate term, they want to do it with an attractive style of football, strong belief in what they’re doing and values they will continually stick to.
Araujo admitted to 90min that he chose to move to Gran Canaria after meeting with representatives of the club, who made it clear they want to play a style of football that suits him down to the ground.
“I met with the coach and the Las Palmas directors before coming here, it was important for me to choose the right club stylistically,” Araujo said.
“There are definitely similarities with Barcelona and their approach was one that really caught my attention. There is a big focus on playing the ball out from the back, on retaining possession, having patience but also being able to transition from defence into attack.
“We are not afraid of any opponents, we will not change our philosophy or how we approach the games because we have belief in what we are doing. We will stick to our values and our playing style, even if we are playing clubs like Barcelona or Real Madrid.
“My plan is to return to Barcelona after this loan spell, but this move was always designed to help me not only improve as a player but also adjust to the league and the style of play.”
Araujo went on to reflect on his time spent at Barcelona in recent months, insisting that while he’d not played at first team level there were many lessons he could take from being around some of the world’s highest profile and most talented players.
“Even though I was not playing, that was a time which I enjoyed a lot and learnt a lot too,” he continued. “I was training with some of the best players in the world. Obviously, there is an element of frustration at not being able to play but I was living in a moment and living my dream.
“Barcelona is an amazing environment to improve as a player, I love to learn and take in information. I was very happy to be part of the squad and that seven months was among the best in my life to absorb all that.
“But yes, it is important to be playing regularly at a club at the top level. There is a lot of ambition at this club and this is a really strong, competitive group. Playing games every week helps me with the national team – to be at that level you need to be playing regularly for your club team and playing well. Las Palmas have given me the platform to do that.
Playing at that top level has forced Araujo to adapt quickly, specifically noting that developing a speed of thought remains something to improve in order to live with the quality of players in LaLiga, while there are other physical elements he’s had to learn as well.
“The biggest thing I have noticed is how important it is that you can now change your action decision at the last second. Being able to open your hips up a lot faster is really important to that, so a lot of the physical work goes into that.
“Technically the players here are a lot better and the key thing is that they think a lot faster. Now you have to think before you receive the ball more on what you are going to do, where your teammates are and what position your opponent is in.
“I can feel that I have improved a lot in that sense, and that my game has developed. I think that right now I’m fully at my top physical level, but technically I can still improve.”
Araujo and Las Palmas face a trip to Osasuna on Saturday evening following last Friday’s win over Atletico Madrid – looking to build on their strong start to the campaign, which sees them 10th in LaLiga and having won four of their last five matches.
READ THE LATEST LA LIGA NEWS, RUMOURS & GOSSIP