Locatelli: “I have Milan in my heart, the goal against Juve changed my life but too many expectations were created”

Manuel Locatelli during Italy U21-Austria U21 at Stadio Nereo Rocco on March 21, 2019. (Photo by Alessandro Sabattini/Getty Images)

Manuel Locatelli has spoken to La Gazzetta dello Sport about Italy U21, his time at Milan and his favorite TV shows.

Locatelli left Milan in 2018 in search of more playing time and in these days he’s captaining the Under 21 Italy side as they are fighting for qualification for the 2021 UEFA European Competitions.

“If being the captain of the U21 team is an extra responsibility? It’s a responsibility that I like because the coach immediately made me feel important, it’s a source of pride,” the former Rossoneri midfielder said in an interview with Sunday’s La Gazzetta dello Sport. “If I’ve been given any advice? To do thing for the team and put the group first. Not everyone does that? I don’t know about that… but it’s the most important thing to do.

“This U21 side? We’re at the beginning, we have a lot to do, there’s a good potential. The fact that we had two years of only friendly games [they were already qualified for the 2019 U21 EUROs because it was hosted by Italy and therefore didn’t play any competitive matches leading up to the tournament]? The motivations are different in games with no points up for grab. It’s tough matches like the one against Ireland U21 that make you grow, you get used to getting results. Now there’s Armenia? We must not underestimate anyone, in international moment it’s when you fall.

Manuel Locatelli during Parma-Sassuolo at Stadio Ennio Tardini on September 25, 2019. (Photo by Alessandro Sabattini/Getty Images)

“Sassuolo didn’t start very well in Serie A? Yes, we have to roll up our sleeves. We looked at each other, nothing serious has happened but we have to do better. I want to do more myself, I’m ambitious and for the goals I’ve set for myself I have to play more, but I have to earn it. We’ve lost Giorgio Squinzi? He was an example to follow, an exceptional person, who I can only thank. Ha taught us many values.

“For many I’m still the one who scored against Juventus? That goal changed my life, it’s one of my best moments and I’ll tell me children about it. But there’s also a downside: too many expectations were created for me, and when things weren’t going well, I suffered. I wasn’t a phenomenon before and I didn’t become useless afterwards, I’ve always been the same, with the desire to improve myself and feel more and more important. But now I’m mentally stronger, more ready to face expectations.

“Who helped me? My family and my girlfriend. I thank them because they kept me in balance, I need them. My dad works at a bank, it’s fortunate because he manages everything; my mom is a housewife, she’s always been behind me.

Manuel Locatelli celebrating during Milan-Juventus at Stadio San Siro on October 22, 2016. (Photo by Marco Luzzani/Getty Images)

“A player that inspires me? I’ve already looked at Pirlo, now I’d say Kroos. And another important example was Marchisio. The 10 years at Milan? It was a fundamental chapter. I’m sorry for how we separated because I have Milan and their fans in my heart. When I see San Siro it’s a different emotion, which I only feel there. The current Milan? It’s a project under construction, but it’s taking a bit too long, because Milan must return to what it is, for the history, the fans and the ambitions it has.

“My sister graduated in Russian and Pedagogy and my brother in Organizational Sciences? I did the first two years of high school and then for too many football commitments, I moved to Accounting. The diploma is a satisfaction I gave to my parents and myself. In life, you never know, there is not only football… Passions beyond football? TV series. I look at them all, even though I know I should read more because you always need to train your mind. My favorite show is Prison Break and now I’m finishing Peaky Blinders. If I like the 20s style? No, I like being elegant.”

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“Loca is better than busquets. Calabria is too good for milan” – les midtables ’18


In a few years this guy will be in the Italy team and playing for Juventus. Good move, Gattuso.


Yeah we should keep biglia till Bennacer leaves too.

Baresis Dream

Solid player, but nothing special. Good luck to him wherever he goes. We need better players.

soheil balini

we lack a solid player in the exact same position!

Baresis Dream

Fair enough Sohiel; Bennacer should do better there no?

soheil balini

bennacer played his best games at central midfield position. I don’t know if he is really effective in that position. I think if Pioli plays Bigilia over him, it shows that he probably can’t play there.

I always thought about Kessie in that position. his is energetic and hi is good with ball. plus he can’t miss any scoring chance being this far from opposition. I think he could be a new Baka if we try him there. I don’t know.

Baresis Dream

Yeah, the problem with Kessie in DCM is he has a very short passing range; his long passing is horrible. Still could work if he plays more as another CB/Libero type of player. In any case, it’s about time Kessie learns his limitations.


while I wholeheartedly laughed at the Loca better than Busquets hypes, this might be interesting
Busquets MC (Midfielder Centre) 11 matches 6.88 rating
Locatelli MC (Midfielder Centre) 5 matches 6.9 rating

@Baresis Dream
We don’t even have solid midfielders right now let alone special ones. Would have been much better to have him in team performing solidly and consistently rather than others.


oh dear oh dear, that is very flawed logic mate. i dont know about u but personally i judge players by watching them. i dont let internet tells me which players (or movies or music or boobs, i mean books) are good and which are not. as far as i can tell, busquets is (was?) key part of arguably 2 2 best teams of last 20 years, pep’s barca and spain nt. anyone who could bench and then send yaya toure away is great player in my book. also, call me sentimental but i tend to agree with my football… Read more »

Baresis Dream

Milan10, agreed about Calabria, and to be honest, after Genoa I’m not so convinced about Hernandez defensive wise.

But I disagree about your books comment. The internet knows a good set of books when it sees one. The intelligence of the masses actually works perfectly in this case.


about books, maybe. i wont deny the fact that internet (goodreads, rollingstone etc) has recommended me some good books along the way like shoe dog by phil knight or 2666 by roberto bolano. but internet also gives album by jonas brothers and capt marvel movie good ratings. but yeah, i’ve known and found some of my fav books through internets

Baresis Dream

I meant the other kind of books mate (boobs); it was a joke


haha i see. well, the way milan have been playing, i think i need boobs, i mean books recommendation from internet more than ever


Um you totally misunderstood me I think :p
I wasn’t saying Loca => Busq or trying to justify that


oh well. put it this way mate, in 98/99 scudetto winning season of milan, rai sport channel (or was it la gazzetta? i forget) always gave nakata good ratings week in week out. its almost like he’s maldini or nedved of 02/03. now, was nakata good? sure. was he actually better than actual footballers like young totti or boban? hell no

soheil balini

did something happened to replay button?

Baresis Dream

You have a point Ink. I wanted him to stay, but I don’t think selling him was a disastrous decision. We made far worse ones.

Martin Bernhard

“I’m sorry for how we separated because I have Milan and their fans in my Heart” Yeah right you forced your way out of the Club when the managemenet and coach wanted you to stay with us and to add to the insult you cost the Club Cash WHO paid for and invested time on your developement as you would only accept a move to sassuolo and even rejecting getting loaned out and thereby giving them the upper hand in negotiations where we sold him for Pennies. If he is sold by them now they will benefit of our Investments… Read more »


He was right to do what he did. Gattuso showed he had no plans for him for him, and it was important for him to play to become a better player. He was already playing well under Montella and there was no need to relegate him like Gattuso planned. In any case, it would not have hurt if, Maldini and Boban had followed through by getting Sensi. The reason why Leonardo sanctioned the deal was because he planned to get Sensi. Unfortunately, Maldini and Boban couldn’t close the deal and allowed Inter to steal him.

Martin Bernhard

Completely disagree and regardless of us trying to get sensi its nothing but mere speculation when you say it was just to facilitate a deal for sensi as locatelli forced his way out of the club.. Yes he sort of lost his position as a starter but at that age could expect he would still have to fight for his spot anyways so no real excuse there in my opinion. Management said both gattuso and Leonardo for that matter wanted him to stay and even tried to convince him to be loaned out for a season if he wanted guarantees.… Read more »


He did not show anything special anytime he was given a chance. His pass accuracy was horrible. He was a hard worker but not a technical midfielder. There are a lot of mediocre players like that. But still I think we could get more money for him. Anyways, good luck kid.