Léo Duarte has spoken his first words as a Milan player after completing his move, saying ‘when I saw the name of Maldini on my phone, I started to shake’.
Duarte is the fifth official signing of Milan this summer as he arrives from Flamengo for €11m and will be competing with Mateo Musacchio and Mattia Caldara (when he returns from injury) for a starting spot alongside Alessio Romagnoli in the defense of the Rossoneri.
Duarte signed a five-year contract with the club, and he is expected to earn about €1.2m per season. The 23-year-old Brazilian spoke to MilanTV to discuss his first sensations.
“I’m very happy to be here. It’s my first time in Milano. Everything is so beautiful here,” he said. “I’m anxious to be part of the squad, to help my teammates and to get familiar with things as quickly as possible. What Milan means to be? When I think of the name Milan, I remember being home with my dad and watching the Champions League, rooting for Milan. Today is a dream come true, it’s a kid’s dream to be here as part of this great club.
“My Rossoneri idols? My father was a big fan of Paolo Maldini. Today, I had the honor of seeing him up close. It’s another dream come true. I hope that I am able to honor this jersey. I’ll give my best. My negotiations with Milan? The first person was Paolo. I was at the mall and got a phone call. When I saw the name, I started to shake. I answered the call and didn’t know what to say. I was very nervous. I’m very happy to be here and thank God everything is working out.
“My old and new teammate Paquetá? He’s been sending a lot of messages asking how I am, what I’m doing. He said he will help me with whatever I need. He’s settled here, spoke very highly of the club and the city. I’m very happy to be back playing alongside him. Why I chose the #43 jersey? It was the jersey I played with at Flamengo. I grew up playing with it. That’s why I ended up choosing it.
“My best qualities and inspiration? Until a while ago I was working with Juan, who played two World Cups with the Seleção. I’m a big fan of his, he retired recently. Nowadays I look up to Thiago Silva, who’s a great player. If I play at half the level of what he did here, I’ll be very happy. You can always expect to see commitment from me and a will to win. I will never give up on a play. That’s what I promise from now on.
“Playing at San Siro? I’ve never been to San Siro, it will be another dream come true. It’s a stage for big players, big matches. It will be a privilege and a big honor to step onto such a pitch. A message for the fans? I’m more anxious than them to meet the squad, to wear this jersey.
“I’ll always give my bets, I’ll work very hard to make things happen. Forza Milan!”