Rafinha: "I want to stay at Inter. We have everything to make Champions League"
MESSI SENT ME.
“Leo told me: ‘Go to a great club.’ Spalletti is managing me very well and now I want the derby: it is worth the same as Barca-Real and Boca-River, the world talks about it. We do not lack anything to enter the Champions League.”
RAFINHA: "I WANT THE DERBY AND CHAMPIONS LEAGUE."
“Leo told me to go to a big club and Spalletti is managing me well. I am ready to play against Benevento from the start. Insigne is great. For my brother, I could cheer for Spain.”
Rafinha is confident, enthusiastic and very reactive to pressure. The three qualities that his Inter desperately need in this difficult period that has lasted way too long. The 25 year-old recently arrived from Barcelona and he is not holding back. In the flashes of the games that he has played so far, the playmaker has demonstrated pure class. Now, Inter fans are waiting for his first time in the starting lineup, the presence that would undoubtedly shine upon the club with the hope that he could bring them to the Champions League. Rafinha, who is studying Italian, almost apologizes to us when he asks to do this interview in Spanish. In this long conversation, the first after his presentation at the press conference, the player speaks about his private life, his new adventure and how he has entered the world of Inter.
Rafinha Alcantara, let’s start with the first question that all Inter fans have in mind. How are you feeling and how close are you to top physical condition?
“Now I am feeling good. I am finding the right rhythm. I am content with my condition and I am adapting well to your football.”
Is it true that after certain types of exercises in training, you must stop because the knee swells?
“No, it is better. Some pain is just normal after months and months of inactivity. But everything is going in the right direction and I feel close to top condition.”
When is going to be your first start?
“Spalletti’s idea to use me mid-game right now is very intelligent. It is clear that every player would like to play from the beginning but between my physical recovery and the need to understand new type of football, I think this approach is the best.”
Are you ready to start versus Benevento?
“I feel ready but I have not talked about it with the coach. If he asks for my availability then I would be ready and give him that. Just ask, always…” (Smiles)
If tonight is not it then it will be against Milan. From the outside, what do you think about the Milan derby?
“It is a game that the world talks about it, just like Barcelona-Real Madrid or River-Boca.”
Tell us about the San Siro.
“It has already enchanted me. With the fans, it is truly a unique stadium.”
50 thousand fans come to games despite the negative period. They are calling you the savior. Is it motivation or pressure?
“I do not feel like a savior. It is a great motivation from the fans who have welcomed me in a marvelous manner. There is pressure on any player at certain level and we need to learn how to turn the pressure into the fire within. It is something that I need to express myself better.”
Inter have not been at their best as in the last 10 matches, they have only collected nine points. How do you explain this?
“I learn that there are cycles in football. When a negative streak begins, it is never easy to reverse the trend. Of course, it is not an easy period for us but with the quality of this squad, we will get out of it.”
Would you trade losing the derby for qualifying for the Champions League?
This is the only moment of uncertainty in the entire interview, Rafinha torments himself moving back and forth in his chair and said: “No, I want to win the derby. Then the Champions League will come.”
Explain to the fans why this time, Inter will return to the Champions League.
“Because I have a lot of confidence in my teammates and I am sure we will do great things.”
The midfielders at Inter do not score, only Icardi and Perisic.
“But the assists are worth as goals and Icardi cannot score by himself. Candreva, for example, has not scored yet but how many assists has he had so far? Anyway, if they told me to sign for a place in the Champions League with only goals from Icardi and Perisic, I would immediately ask for a pen!”
Speaking about your friend Icardi, he’s been hurt since the moment you arrived.
“Mauro has told me that he is very well and is called up for the game. After years together at Barcelona as youngsters, I also talked to him before accepting the transfer. He helped me in the early days at Inter even though he is such a young captain. A true leader in this group.”
You two have known each other for years, can that help with the understanding on the field?
“Yes. The harmony with a person helps you do a lot better on the field.”
What has struck you the most about Spalletti?
“Besides his football preparation, I like how direct he is. He tells you things in your face. We talked on the phone when I was still at Barcelona, we talked about his football ideas and he knows that I can play in all positions in the midfield but also in the attack. At certain point in my career, I was a false nine.”
Even though that it is only loan with option to buy, are we going to see you playing for Inter in the Champions League next year?
“Certainly, I would like it to be like that. I did not come here to get back on form and then return to Barcelona. I want to stay. But then obviously Inter have the option and it will depend on them.”
What did Messi tell you before coming here?
“Not only Leo but Suarez and others as well, they told me that I am heading towards a historic club, a world class club.”
As soon as you arrived, you explained that a few former Inter players were your idols.
“Yes, I was crazy for Ronaldo and Adriano. Ronaldo because he is Il Fenomeno. Adriano, on the other hand, gave his best for Inter and I did not miss any of his matches.”
What do you think about this group?
“I was very surprised by the physical condition and quality. I have a lot of trust in my teammates and we do not lack anything to achieve the Champions League goal.”
Who has impressed you the most?
“Cancelo. Training with him really impresses me on how strong he is.”
Your compatriot, Dalbert, is finding very little space.
“I already knew him, he is very technical. The most important thing for him right now, especially when changing football and having little playing time, is to find the right confidence again.”
What do you know about Benevento?
“I know Sandro even though that we have never played together. From the videos, I understand that they are playing well. We hope it will be an advantage for us because usually an opponent comes to the Meazza to defend and to close all the spaces.”
Did you meet Steven Zhang?
“Yes, we are almost the same age! A young man like that, on this current path, is always a good thing.”
Who will win the Scudetto between Juventus and Napoli?
“As long as the numbers allow, Inter.”
Can you tell us about your private life?
“I am not superstitious. I do not like PlayStation. I like going to the movies and playing the guitar. I am taking lessons and soon I will speak Italian. I love sweets and I will lose my mind for cakes. Especially for pies. It is so hard to stay disciplined.”
What other sports do you like?
“Volleyball because my mother, Valeria, played it. Then basketball and ping pong. We have a table at home and we challenge each other all the time.”
Speaking of family, your father, Mazinho, played in our country. What advice did he give you?
“He told me that this is a very tactical league. A football university if you will. I also spoke with Dani Alves and he told me that he learned so much from playing here.”
Your brother, Thiago, plays for Spain and you play for Brazil. Why?
“He played for all the Spanish U teams. I was back in Brazil during the summer. I always felt more Brazilian than Spanish”
Spoken with Brazilian national team coach?
“No, having been injured. I haven not heard from him for a while. Of course, I would like to go to the World Cup but now I only think of doing well for Inter.”
What if the World Cup final is between Brazil and Spain?
“If my brother is on the field and not me, I would support Spain. The family comes first.”
Let’s just say you both are on the field, how would your father react?
“He told me that it would be more comfortable in front of the TV and he would try to watch the game with serenity.”
You chose to come here to play in a country that is in a difficult period in terms of football. The national team failed to qualify for the World Cup. Do you think it is a real crisis or we can get out of it quickly?
“It is just one moment. You have won four World Cup titles, a strong representative of world football. Young talents are not lacking either. I thought Pinamonti was in mid 20s and then found out that he is only 18.”
Which Italian is ready to become a top player?
“Insigne. He is superb.”
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