THE SHOUT OF SKRINIAR - "I've never thought of leaving Inter. Ronaldo? Good, I like a challenge"
THE SHOUT OF SKRINIAR
- "Inter, we are stronger. Watch out Juve, we are not afraid."
- "Ronaldo? He is faster than me but... We are aiming to go far in the Champions League.
- "I have never thought of leaving and in Italy, I will not wear another shirt."
SKRINIAR - THE WALL OF SPALLETTI
- "An Inter like this can go to the top. I live football and want the Champions League. Not afraid of Cristiano Ronaldo."
When he was a kid, with his first salary, he went and bought a watch. Then with time, he learned how to play. Skriniar’s forte is his timing on the ball and not just on the field. We had an appointment with him at 12:30 pm to do this interview and when we got there, he was already ready to go, waiting for us more or less like when he waits for a central forward: “Nice to meet you, I am Milan.”
You did not miss even one minute last season. Do you know that even the great Zanetti did not even manage to do that?
“I did not imagine that it would happen. The luck was there because I never got hurt. I do not have any secret but I know how to manage my body. I understand the signs that it sends me and so I can assess when it is right to stop and to have some massage for example, or when it is the case of adding a bit of more gym work rather than working on the field.”
Last season, you only had 40 fouls, practically one per game, and only 2 yellow cards. Explain your way of playing.
“I did not even know about this statistic. But it is very simple: not committing a foul is helping the team which we can counter the opposition. I go in hard and clean. Fouling means I am not doing my job well and I would break the playing action of my team.”
Do you know that now the fans are asking for more? Do you know that there are expectations for the Scudetto this time around?
“We are Inter, which by definition this is a club that must always be at the top. We are already stronger than last season. The goal is to aim high (in the standings) and achieve great results in the Champions League.”
You said Champions: better or worse to face big teams right away?
“For me it will be the first time in the competition. So I have no doubts: opponent level does not change anything, even against Real Madrid and Barcelona, we can do great things. Inter are a top club and we want to get out of the group.”
Mourinho wanted you at Manchester United, your agent said that there were five best clubs in Europe interested in you. Have you ever thought about leaving?
“It is nice hearing big clubs wanting you and liking the way that you are playing. But I never thought of leaving. I have always said: let’s see Inter decision and it is fine the way it is.”
Are you talking about a renewal?
“It is not done yet, my agent and Inter are talking, let’s see what happens.”
Do you have this “never Juve and Milan” mentality in your mind?
“(Laughs) Very well: in Italy, I will only play for Inter.”
Why is Spalletti different from other coaches?
“With Giampaolo (Sampdoria coach), I learned to be a defender. With Spalletti, I work more on the details of my work. I will give you an example: he insists a lot of the posture of the body. When I pass the ball, I have to be careful of my partner’s favorite/preferred foot. I cannot send the ball to the right foot of a left-footed winger. Otherwise, I will hear from the coach…”
You have the past as a central midfielder. Did you enjoy that position more before?
“Let’s just say that it was more… relaxing. Before, when I knew I made a mistake, I still had four defenders behind to save me. Now, I have more responsibility because behind me, there is only the goalkeeper. But the past helps me because I learn to take risk as a defender, making a complicated pass that can benefit my team.”
You fixed your eyes in June. Inter fans say: who know how he will play now that he is going to see better.
“Now I see even better yes. Before I struggled to read things from a distance, now it is much better. Everything is solved although before, I never had any excessively huge issues.”
Do you enjoy reading?
“I do not have much free time. And the little time that I do have, I want to be a tourist. I love visiting places with my girlfriend and we often go Switzerland. Although the please I like the most is Venice: I was there five months ago and as soon as I can, I will be back.”
What is your relationship with social media?
“I have an Instagram account but I am not like some of my teammates who post everything at all hours. Sometimes I post something on there, especially after the matches, but I stop there.”
When you leave Appiano, do you still think of football?
“Yes, always. But I am not one of those who go home and play football on the X Box, I look at something else. Also because otherwise my girlfriend would be angry. But when Zilina play (his former club) or there are Champions League games, there is no doubt: I watch football at home.”
Have you ever gotten angry looking at a player rating in a newspaper?
“I talk about with my teammates when we have breakfast the day after the game. I often think that some like it, others do not, what can I do really? All in all, I prefer to think about what teammates and my coach say about me, it is there opinion that interests me.”
VAR: do you like it? Or does it ruin the game of football as many have said?
“I am favor of it. For the fans, it is not nice to wait for five minutes for a decision. But those situation are clearer, we also saw it at the World Cup.”
If you are not a footballer, what would you like to be?
“I cannot answer that because as a child I dreamed to have this career. I saw my dad and my brother play and I love football. I’ll say this: when I am done, I will be a coach, either at a youth or at a higher level.”
Remember the day of your first contract?
“I was 16 and was making 100 euros a month. I bought a watch… no, it was not a Rolex. I do not even remember what it was, it was worth 300 euros.”
Is it true that Italians are excessive with football?
“Well, yes, you are a bit crazy. But I already knew it before coming to Serie A. I like it: it is a great feeling to enter the Meazza and see 70 thousand fans cheering for you.”
Who is the most difficult forward that you have ever marked?
“I say two: Higuain and Simeone. The first does not put pressure on you, he runs very little but when he comes next to the goal then it is a dangerous situation, you can never be distracted. The Cholito instead puts pressure on you the entire game and it is really tiring.”
Do you study your opponents?
“Before I did, I documented it before a match. Now I prefer to concentrate on myself, on my mistakes. I review my matches and correct myself.”
What kind of a captain is Icardi?
“Before the friendly matches, he often speaks to the team as if these are regular league matches. I am not just saying this but he is truly a real captain.”
If I say Cristiano Ronaldo, what would you have in mind?
“One of the best in the world, maybe a little bit faster than me. But we are Inter, a player by himself is nothing against a team. I am happy because I want to play against the best.”
And now Maybe Modric is also coming…
“I do not know.” And he laughs. Again, perfect timing.