Halilović: “It is a big step and I think I will show what I can do, it’s an honor for me, I played as a midfielder before”

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Alen Halilović during a press conference at Milanello on July 10, 2018. (@acmilan.com)
Alen Halilović during a press conference at Milanello on July 10, 2018. (@acmilan.com)

Alen Halilović spoke about the reasons he is now labelled a ‘lost talent’, revealed he spoke with KP Boateng and Aquilani about Milan, and said his best qualities are his technique and dribbling.

Massimiliano Mirabelli called the signing of Halilović ‘a bet’ yesterday, as Milan signed the Croatian on a free transfer, after he failed to live-up to the hype that was around him during his teen-years.

Alen, who will be wearing the #77 jersey at Milan next season, was presented to the press today at Milanello and answered the different questions of the journalists, as he starts a new experience. Here are his words in full:

“First sensations and feelings? I want to first say hello to all the Rossoneri fans. I’m really happy to be here, it’s an honor for me, it’s one of the biggest clubs in the world and I’m really happy. I want to learn from these guys and from this big club and I think it’s a big step for me, and I think I will show what I can do. But first, I’m really happy to be here, the players and staff have helped me a lot.

“If I got to meet coach Gattuso and what first impressions I got? Yes, I spoke with the coach, he explained everything to me, he told that he’s here for me if I need something and if I have some problem or something, he’s always open to speak with me. And that’s all. I think now we’ll have time to speak more, but the first impression was very good.

Alen Halilović during a press conference at Milanello on July 10, 2018. (@acmilan.com)
Alen Halilović during a press conference at Milanello on July 10, 2018. (@acmilan.com)

“Why did I choose the #77 jersey? Number 7 is my favorite number, and I really like it. I saw that Nikola Kalinić is #7, he’s also a Croatian guy and because of that I wanted to take #77.

“What did Kevin-Prince Boateng tell me about Milan? First, I want to say thanks to him and to Alberto Aquilani, they spoke very well of Milan, they were very happy here. I played with them at Las Palmas, two very good guys, and they said that Milan is a very big club, with a big history and big players play here. And they told me that I have to train a lot and that I have to train from the players and also from the coach. They know him very well, they speak very well of him and I just have to give everything, do my best and after that I’ll see what Milan is.

Alen Halilović at training center Milanello on July 7, 2018. (@acmilan.com)
Alen Halilović at training center Milanello on July 7, 2018. (@acmilan.com)

“Gattuso said in the press conference that he sees me in midfield? Yes, I played there before, especially in the national team, in the U21, and also a few games with Las Palmas I played in midfield. I think the #8 and #10 positions are good for me, I think I can show what I can do in this position, it’s nothing strange to me; I played it before and I think that like coach Gattuso said, I can do my best there. But whatever he wants from me, I will do my best.

“Where do I want to start from again seeing as I was a big talent 3-4 years ago? Yes, I mean, two years ago I was very young, I was 19, I was at Barcelona and I think the best for me is to go somewhere I could play a lot of matches. I played at Sporting de Gijón almost 40 matches in Spanish division, which is one of the best leagues in the world, after that I also played at Las Palmas. And I think a young player needs to play a lot of matches to improve himself as a person and also as a player. And now I’m 22, and because of that I chose Milan, I think it’s a big step for me and I think it’s the right time to do something better.

Alen Halilović and Ivan Rakitić during training at the Sports Center FC Barcelona Joan Gamper in Sant Joan Despi, near Barcelona on August 13, 2015. (QUIQUE GARCIA/AFP/Getty Images)
Alen Halilović and Ivan Rakitić during training at the Sports Center FC Barcelona Joan Gamper in Sant Joan Despi, near Barcelona on August 13, 2015. (QUIQUE GARCIA/AFP/Getty Images)

“Why did I get lost as a young talent and what I want to achieve at Milan? Like I said, I was young. I think it’s best to go to first division, but not teams as good as Milan and Barcelona, and it’s best to play a lot of matches. It’s difficult when you’re at Barcelona and at 19 you don’t get too many chances to play so young there. Because of that, I chose [to go to] Sporting de Gijón, I played all matches for them, it’s the first division in Spain, it’s one of the best leagues in the world, and after that I was at Las Palmas, as I said, and I also played there, and now as a 22-year-old person, I think I have more than 90 games in one of the best leagues in the world and I think it’s the time to do one step more and play in better teams and show to people that I can play in better teams.

“Going to Milan is important in getting to the national team? Yes, I don’t think now about that, I only think about Milan. I chose Milan because I want to play at Milan, but also if I play well here, I have more of a chance to go the NT. But I was there when I was 18 and 19, I know those players, I played with them and like I said, I will do my best at Milan to stay and to make history with this club.

Alen Halilović during Croatia-Israel at Stadion Gradski vrt on March 23, 2016 in Osijek, Croatia. (Photo by Srdjan Stevanovic/Getty Images)
Alen Halilović during Croatia-Israel at Stadion Gradski vrt on March 23, 2016 in Osijek, Croatia. (Photo by Srdjan Stevanovic/Getty Images)

“If there’s anyone from my new teammates who impressed me more than others? No, I spoke a lot with Stefan Simić [who played the last season on loan at Crotone], he speaks my language and he’s a really good guy, he helped me a lot; I want to thank him. And the other players, all of them, they have really, really helped me, and also the captain, he’s a great guy and a big player, and also, I spoke a little bit with the guys who speak Spanish, like Suso and Musacchio, because I can understand them. A lot of them know English well, but I want to first Italian fast so that I can make more friends.

“If I would like to have a career similar to that of [Milan legend Zvonimir] Boban? Yes, he was a great player and a very important person for Croatia and I think the history of Milan. I haven’t had time to speak with him, but 100% I will speak with him, and also Mario Pašalić was here a few years ago, he’s my friend and I speak a lot with him. And now Kalinić and Simić and all of them, I’m really happy to be here. And also, from the Balkan, Dejan Savićević was a really, really good player. And I’m really happy to be here from Croatia.

“What are my main qualities and where I think I have to get better? I think I can do my best in the middle or on the right as a right winger. I think I have good technique because I was at Dinamo Zagreb before, and they have a really good school, all of them they have really good technique. And after that I was in Spain at Barcelona for one and a half years and I learned a lot there from one of the biggest players. I think I can improve in a lot, because I’m really young. But my best [qualities] I think are technique and my dribbling.

“My impression from Gattuso on the pitch? I’m really happy to have a coach like that. I think he gives everything for the players, he’s 100% during training, sometimes when you are tired, he wants more, he asks for more and I think that’s very important for me, because as I said, I’m really young and he’s always 100% here for us. He’s putting pressure and pressure and I think it’s important for our team.

“Cristiano Ronaldo [who has signed for Juventus]? He’s a top player, one of the best in history. I’ve played a few times against him with Croatia against Portugal and I played against Real Madrid a few times. He’s a very good scorer, he is one of the best strikers in history, but my favorite player is Messi. For me he’s the best player in history. I have a lot of respect for Ronaldo, I think some players choose Ronaldo, other players choose Messi. I was teammates with Messi, I trained with him, and I saw something different in him, he will also be my idol and the best player for me.

Alen Halilović at training center Milanello on July 7, 2018. (@acmilan.com)
Alen Halilović at training center Milanello on July 7, 2018. (@acmilan.com)

“Many fans came to Milanello on the first day of training? I want to thank them, it was really an honor for me to be a part of the team and yesterday it was really something special for me. I spoke, as I said, with Boateng and Aquilani, they spoke a lot about the fans, they said that they’re good fans.

“And now I have to do the best on the pitch to fight for this team and for the club, and they will always protect me. We’ll all do our best in this pre-season to do better in the next season.”

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