Suso says a win in the derby would be important for the confidence of Milan and claims ‘it is amazing’ to train under the eyes of Leonardo and Paolo Maldini.
The Derby della Madonnina is in two days and it’s almost tradition now for Suso to have an interview before the encounter.
The Spaniard spoke to il Corriere della Sera’s Arianna Ravelli and ESPN’s James Horncastle and covered different topics. “It’s the best moment of my career. Physically and mentally I’ve never been better than this,” said the 24-year-old.
“I’m the leading assist man in the five big European leagues and I’ve scored two goals away at Sassuolo to get out of crisis? When you work, results do not arrive immediately, but I was playing well for a while, physically I felt good. I am really happy, things are going good here at Milan, where there are a lot of people with whom I get on well on the pitch, and also in the national team.
“It really is a perfect moment. If the incoming child have anything to do with it? I must say that I’ve always had a fantastic relationship but it’s clear that the child brings something extra. I’m very happy and very anxious for him to be born, it should happen in the first week of November, which is my month [of birth]. If I’ll be calling the kid Alessio in honor of Romagnoli? Surely not! [laughs]. He’ll be born here in Italy, a country that we love a lot and we’d like to give him an Italian name.
“If I score on Sunday then the dedication would be obvious? After Sassuolo, my girlfriend sent me a text why I hadn’t dedicated a celebration to our child. But that moment was not the easiest for us and also not for Gattuso, so I naturally came to embrace him. But in the derby, there’s no escape.
“Gattuso? He is a magnificent person, in every interview we do, you can see no one has a bad word to say about him. Obviously we all have to improve, the players and the staff. But he arrived last year at a different time, he is the right person at the right place. As a kid, I used to watch him on TV. He’s won everything. He does his job on the pitch, but off it he’s one of those guys you can talk to.
“Training with Leonardo and Maldini around? It’s amazing. With Leonardo, every now and then, we talk about the games, but he is interested in everything. He talks about what’s going on off the pitch too. He wants to know how my girlfriend is doing. Maldini is Milan. He comes to watch us train every morning, talks to us. It makes us better as players and as a team. If looking at Maldini increases the desire to become a symbol? The other day I played my 100th game, he has 900th [Paolo holds the all-time Milan record]. It’s an extraordinary thing. I think I can get into people’s hearts.
“Voices about other big European sides and the fact that my father is a Real Madrid fan? In the mercato you never know, maybe at some point they won’t want me anymore… but I’m very happy, right now I don’t think about going somewhere else. I could’ve gone to Inter? For two summers in a row, there was an Inter offer for me. Listen, I’m going to tell you something; write it like I say it.
“This summer there was an opportunity … there was an offer to go to Inter. And Mirabelli was aware of it. It surprised me a little when he said publicly he didn’t know anything about it. He did. We spoke to him about it. But as I said, my intention was always to stay here, and I am very, very happy.
“I said that the Chinese era was a mess? In the period of the Chinese, there was a bit more confusion. Stories used to come out every day about the club needing to sell me because of FFP, but we players didn’t have a clue about what was going on, at least I didn’t.
“A different climate at Milanello before the derby? Even unconsciously, you have in mind that the derby is a special game. We are all very focused, it’s the easiest match to prepare for. For Gattuso, nothing changes. Before the 2016 derby I said that if scored a brace I would come to Milanello on foot but at the time I was living nearby? And then we didn’t win… now I promise nothing. But if I score and we don’t win then I prefer to win with an assist of mine. That way, we’re all happy.
“I scored twice on the derby when my family came visit? I said ‘right, I’m bringing you to every derby’. Some of them had to work, but I was like: ‘I’m not interested. Do what you have to do, you have got to be here.’ This time, though, there won’t be anyone. We’re playing ‘away’ from home. There’ll just be my wife [in Milan], but she’ll be at home [as the baby is due in a few weeks].
“Higuaín? He’s a Champion. He slotted in the group perfectly and helps the youth players. I knew him as a player but he’s also a magnificent guy. If we also get along off the pitch? We have been neighbors for three months, we would arrive at Milanello with car every morning: I was sleepy and he would talk, talk, talk… At times I want to pull over on the motorway and let him out.
“If we talk about football and how to assist him? He talks about football a bit more than, sometimes I want to disconnect from it. However, when two people know a thing or two about football, it’s only a matter of time. You’ve seen him play before, but until you’re on the pitch and on the same team together and get to see how he moves, what he does, what he likes, what he doesn’t like…
“Many think that Inter are stronger? They are favorites. We must stay calm, the derby is like a game of poker: you need luck and a cold mind. If we take the lead then we must not be afraid or in a hurry. Being united and not conceding goals. It’s that we play well but what counts is the points.
“How many points is the derby worth? Always three, but it’s a question of confidence. These are the games that help you grow at double speed. Who would I take away from Inter? Last year I said Rafinha [who is no longer at Inter]… let’s say that now I won’t take anyone out.
“My movements are always the same but the defenders can’t stop it [Suso often cuts inside and crosses the ball]? It’s about timing. Choosing the right moment. Watching the body position of your opponent. Messi always does the same move and you know it’s coming. To be clear, I’m not comparing myself to him. I think it’s just something that comes naturally to you. In training however, I can’t get past anyone, maybe here we go too fast or many I’m more focused during the game!
“What other players who play my role I like? There’s one I love: Hazard. He plays on the left, but he’s right-footed. He’s one of the best players to watch. The way he runs with the ball and goes into one-v-ones. He’s one of the players I like most. As a kid I loved Kaká. He was so quick when he got the ball, he used to go past players with such ease, and when he was in front of goal he had that composure you need to score. What if Ibrahimović should arrive [he’s a possible January signing]? He has experience and character, but now it makes little sense to think of who can get here.
“If I feel pressure or pride when people tell me that I’m the most decisive player? No pressure, it’s beautiful to be esteemed.” Suso will hope to be decisive once again in two days’ time.