Krzysztof Piątek has spoken at length to La Gazzetta dello Sport, saying he wants to do better than he did last season.
Milan are in the middle of their pre-season tour in the United States and on Sunday they return to the pitch, taking on Benfica at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough.
While the boys of Giampaolo are working in America, the leadership of the Diavolo (apart from Ivan Gazidis) is in Milano working on the transfer market, trying to find a new attacking partner for Piątek.
The Polish striker gave an interview to La Gazzetta dello Sport’s Marco Pasotto and even before sitting down, Krzysztof already laid down some ground rules for the interview: “Please, let’s talk about football. No questions about my private life, we’re here for the ball, right?”
“What differences exist between last season and this one? Last season was a great season for me. This will be different because there’s a new coach and a new game system. I’m interested in staying focused on this because I want to find myself ready. The main objective is to play in the Champions League and the biggest regret is not having already succeeded.
“From 1-10 how happy am I to wear the #9 shirt? 11… I’m very happy to have it on my shoulders. The 9 is an important number for a striker, all the best have it: Lewandowski, Suarez, Benzema, Kane… I’m happy because the club believed in my qualities, they told me that I should conquer it, while I said that I would fight with all my strength to have it, and I did.
“The Inzaghi curse around the #9 Milan shirt? I don’t believe in superstition and in this curse. For me, the #9 is normal, everything will be fine like with the #19. I’ll be in great shape, you’ll see. It doesn’t scare me. If I’ve given myself an objective in terms of goals? I don’t want to say a specific number because if I don’t get it then everyone would just talk about that. Simply, I would like to score in every game. I know I won’t make it, but that’s the mission.
“The objective is to score more than last season, you always have to improve. It is said that the second season is always more difficult than the first? It has never been like that for me. I’ve always managed to improve myself. In the last three seasons in league campaigns I scored 11, 21 and 22 goals. In the next season I want to improve even more.
“How surprised I am about myself? I’m a little surprised about last season. The first season in Italy could have been just for the purposes of acclimatization and instead I scored a lot. But I’m one who believes in his own means. Where would I like to improve more? Maybe in dead-balls. And also in shooting, it’d be better to improve it. If I have to choose one thing, I’d say scoring more with my left foot and maybe improving my shot from 20-25 meters.
“How do I find myself with Giampaolo, who’s been called a ‘maestro’? He’s a ‘maestro’ of football, I confirm. At a tactical level, every detail is fundamental for him and he spends a lot of time explaining in training. For me, it’s a good thing, he has a lot of ideas about the game. I like the 4-3-1-2 because it gives many offensive solutions. In Italy I’ve already had four coaches, he is the 5th, and everyone had their own strengths but he is the best tactically. He has many ideas and they are all clear.
“How sorry am I for Gattuso? He is a legend and also has a slightly crazy character as a coach like he had as a player [laughs]. He loves Milan to death. He took on a lot of responsibilities and he arrived at the end tired and drained. In the second part of last season I was a bit isolated, like I was against Bayern Munich? The last two months of last year were difficult for me and for the team. We didn’t play well, we were too tired. I think the defeat in the derby changed our mindset a bit. At the beginning I was always scoring and afterwards it was very difficult.
“If I’m better as a lone striker or with a partner? For me both solutions are fine, but perhaps I prefer to have a partner next to me. Another striker helps create space, being a lone against two defenders is more difficult. Which striker would I dream of playing alongside? Cristiano Ronaldo, and Shevchenko. When I arrived in Italy, who would have thought that I’d score more than CR7… But I want to improve and become Capocannoniere. I will do everything to succeed.
“What else do I see in my future? I’m a person who doesn’t think about the future. Now I’m here in the US, focused on the present. However, as I said, my objective is to play in the Champions League and to win a trophy, just like in my national team the objective is to qualify for the EURO’s.
“It will be a year without European competition for Milan? It’s not a good thing but I remained focused on the next objectives. We can make it to the Champions League, we have a great team and a new module. Milan will play with a trequartista who could be Paquetá? Yes, we understand each other well on the pitch. He knows how I like to receive the ball, when to give it to my feet and when to send it deep. We understand each other and it’s important. There’s also Suso? I think it’s a bit more difficult for him. Suso is a winger, while to play behind the strikers you will need to do specific work. He obviously has all the qualities to do it.
“I’m the only certainty in attack with all exits and arrivals? I’m in a good situation, but I have to fight to always improve myself. The important thing is to help the team. But I must admit that I’m very happy because I feel the confidence of the club, and I intend to repay it with goals.
“Theo Hernández said he wants to make history with Milan? For me it’s a pleasure to play here, there were many legendary players and by going to the pitch I want to get closer to their level, because Milan is a club that has everything to win the Champions League. But the first step is to get there, after that everything is possible. In the meantime, we have to start the season very strong.
“What do I like and what I don’t like about Italian football? I like pretty much everything, I love it. But I don’t like the fact that people talk about it too much, they all talk about football even when they don’t know about it. You’re looking for sensationalism and I don’t like it.
“How important is my father for me? I talk to him every 2-3 days, always after games. He taught me to work hard. His existence has always been like that. He’s the first coach of my life, many qualities of my character have come from his figure. The most obvious qualities? I work a lot and I’m hungry for goals. As for in my private life, I can’t say – you should ask my wife Paulina. If we like living in Milano? We’re great, it’s a beautiful city. We live in the center but we like to lead a quiet life. There’s everything, and the same is true for the club: it’s like a family and everything is perfect.
“If my dad and I are both Milan fans? I confirm. This teaches that in life everything is possible: as a child I was a fan and now I play with this shirt. To think that my dad watched Zagłębie Lubin-Milan in the UEFA Cup in 1995 when Maldini was on the pitch, and now he’s my boss… what a fantastic thing.
“What crazy thing would I do if we qualify for the Champions League? I would dye my hair white… but I don’t believe I’d last more than a day… If I ever thought of changing the way I celebrate a goal? No, I will never change it. For me it’s a talisman.”