Çalhanoğlu: “This has been my year, Pioli is a very important person for me and for the team, I hope Ibra will stay”

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Hakan Çalhanoğlu during Milan-Atalanta at Stadio San Siro July 24, 2020. (@imagoimages)

Hakan Çalhanoğlu has stated he wants to get to the Champions League, said he now has a lot of confidence, and spoke about his previous seasons at Milan.

This without a doubt has been Çalhanoğlu’s best season at Milan, as in 37 games he scored 11 goals and assisted 9 more in all competitions.

Hakan has been instrumental for Milan’s success since the Coronavirus lockdown and is a guaranteed starter for Stefano Pioli in attack, alongside Zlatan Ibrahimović and Ante Rebić.

The contract of Hakan expires next season and there have been some rumours about his future. Calha has made it clear that talks about him returning to Germany are fake news, and yesterday he spoke to Carlo Pellegatti on StarCasinò Sport and discussed many things:

The fans of starcasinò.sport have chosen you for this interview, you’re becoming an idol for the Rossoneri people. How happy does that make you?
“I love it, thanks everyone. I’m really happy, Carlo.”

Listen, this Milan side have had a complete change of course. I’m going to give you a figure: 28 goals in 26 games – the first 26 games; now it’s 28 goals in your last 10 games. What has changed?
“The coach and his staff have done great work in training. They spoke to us at home by phone and video chat [during the Coronavirus lockdown]. Then when we returned to Milanello, we trained hard every day. Looking back now, we all worked so hard together.”

Hakan Çalhanoğlu during Sampdoria-Milan at Stadio Luigi Ferraris on July 29, 2020. (@acmilan.com)

You spoke about Pioli. How happy are you with Pioli’s new contract, which will keep him with you for the next few seasons. What has he given you in terms of technique, tactics and morale?
“He’s a very important person for me and also for the team. I think he’s a coach who listens, he wants to know what the players think, and he wants to know what the players think. I play the role he wants me to, in the role I prefer. We’re all happy that he’s renewed because it’s has not been easy for him either because there’s been a lot of… news, shall we say, but he’s a great professional and he only thinks about the team to take us as far forward as possible, and we’ve played for him too.”

You said you’ve changed positions but you seem like a player with a lot of trust. You’re confident, you play easy and simple, because you have trust. It’s another sign of your improvement. How much is this down to you, the coach or your teammates?
“Yep, that’s me, Carlo. I have a lot of trust because they believe in my qualities and I have to show them on the pitch. So, we’re doing something good together.”

What does it mean to become a leader of the squad, the reference point?
“I feel like a leader because I have a lot of confidence in myself, I’m not afraid of anything. But now we have other leaders, like Zlatan.”

We’ll talk about Zlatan later, but now I want to look back on for 22nd goal. You scored it from the same angle, maybe they told you, from which Beckham scored.
“I saw the video!”

Hakan Çalhanoğlu and Theo Hernández during Milan-Bologna at Stadio San Siro on July 15, 2020. (@acmilan.com)

Where do you rank the goal against Atalanta among the ones you’ve scored? It was really spectacular.
“Yeah, it was a goal that sticks with you. As you said, I saw Beckham’s goal, the same free kick. 11 years ago, right? Yeah, this will stay with me, even after I’ve stopped playing, a beautiful thing.”

Of your 23 goals, which is the best and which was the most important?
“The one against Torino, I think. When I started from the bench and then I came on and scored twice and we beat Torino.”

The most important one… there are beautiful goals and there are big goals. ‘Schwertor’…
“[Laughs] Big goal? I need to think, Carlo.”

Maybe… it was a difficult moment for Milan, I’ll suggest one: the first against Brescia. First game of the season at San Siro, a header, an important goal.
“Ah, from Suso’s cross, right, yes that’s true.”

Hakan Çalhanoğlu and Zlatan Ibrahimović celebrating during Sampdoria-Milan at Stadio Luigi Ferraris on July 29, 2020. (@imagoimages)

Ibrahimović, is he really that ‘terrible’ with his teammates? What do you think of Zlatan?
“Zlatan is a great player, a great person. He’s got a great personality. When he arrived, he helped the whole team, he has a lot of passion. I hope he’s still with us next season because he’s a very important player for us.”

Speaking of Ibra, there’s another one of your teammates who has just hit 200 games: Gigio Donnarumma. But is he still young at 21-years-old or is he already old?
“Yes, Gigio… he’s another great player, a great character and a great guy. I really like playing with Gigio. He’s got a great mindset despite his young age, he already seems like an adult, I’m very happy for him as well. Hitting the milestone of 200 appearances for this team, I think he broke a red at Milan, right? So a big well done to him.”

Now let’s talk a bit more in general about you: what’s the biggest difference between the Çalhanoğlu from two seasons back, and the one who’s about to finish his third season in Rossoneri colors? What’s the biggest change?
“The difference is that in the first year, when I arrived here in Milano, I’d been out for six months before and it was very tough for me to come back physically. Then, understanding the Italian language, then even Serie A – the league – because it was so different from the Bundesliga. Here there are so many high-quality players and what’s more you have to feel in good shape on the pitch because they try and analyze your tactics, your movements, how you defend, how you attack. Then the second year, I grew under Rino, physically and I also learned a bit of the language. Now the third year has been my year. I’ve arrived, we’ll say, after three years, I’m here in Milano full of confidence.”

Hakan Çalhanoğlu and Franck Kessié during training at Milanello. (@acmilan.com)

What do you like about the Italian league and what don’t you like as much? The best and the worst things about Serie A, if there are any…
“There aren’t bad things in football, Carlo. I like playing in Serie A because here there are so many players who are top quality, so many players, there are so many strong sides. In the Bundesliga it’s always Bayern Munich, Borussia Dortmund and let’s say Leverkusen because I played for them [smiles], but here in Italy you have Lazio, Roma, Atalanta, Juventus, Napoli… there are so many strong teams. That’s the difference between the Bundesliga and Italy.”

When you were young, who was your idol, the player you had a poster of in your room? I don’t know if you had posters but the player you loved the most as a kid…
“I always loved Ronaldinho, his elastic, all of his skills, he was incredible.”

And today, who’s your favorite Italian player, excluding Milan players, and who’s your favorite foreign player playing in Italy?
“You said no Milan players, right? Alright then I’d say Dybala, Douglas Costa…”

Hakan Çalhanoğlu celebrating during Milan-Bologna at Stadio San Siro on July 15, 2020. (Photo by MARCO BERTORELLO / AFP)

What do you like about Milano and Italy in general? Do you like it here?
“I really like the people in Italy because they’re similar to our people in Turkey. Then, the best thing… the food in Italy is incredible. I really like it.”

What’s your favorite dish? What do you like eating in Milano? Any food or dish?
“Well I won’t say spaghetti because spaghetti’s normal so I’ll say Risotto all Milanese.”

What’s your favorite hobby?
“Nothing, playing with my little girl. My time is spent with here, always, every day.”

How old is she?
“She’s now one and a half. When we finish training, I go home and do another session with her [laughs].”

We’ll round off with this question: what’s your dream as a professional player and as a Milan player?
“My dream, I think it’s the same as the others… we’ve been waiting 6-7 years to be back in the Champions League, our objective always has to be the Champions League. We’ve now qualified for the Europa League, let’s hope that next season we’ll be in the Champions League, with Milan.”

You can’t wait to hear the Champions League music at your first…
“I miss it so much. And then… staying fit physically is another dream of mine.”

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Ted
Ted
2 months ago

Pioli is indeed important and I am glad they extended his contract since this team is in dire need of continuity and consistency after depressing 9 years. It kind of irritates me seeing most interviewed folks and articles say it is mostly cause of Ibra. While I do agree him and Kjaer had a huge impact on this team, Pioli is the one that deserves highest praise. He took over this shattered team midseason while they were circulating near relegation zone, he is the only coach from last three (Montella, Rino and Giampaolo) who got the best out of players… Read more »

alexmilan55
alexmilan55
2 months ago
Reply to  Ted

Regarding Ibra, replace Ibra with Piatek and ask Pioli to make Milan play in the same way ! Ibra had an enormous impact in the locker room, he made even Pioli become better, this is the reason Milan is another team since january ( Ibra’s arrival ) and not since october ( Pioli’s arrival ). It’s the best mixture, Pioli’s qualities as a coach and Ibra’s influence and value. Ibra is a top class even at 39. Pioli is a good coach and I like his character, he felt that the best position for kessie is in a duo in… Read more »

Last edited 2 months ago by alexmilan55
Ted
Ted
2 months ago
Reply to  alexmilan55

I agree and I’ve also said that Ibra had huge impact on the team but I also saw a lot of positives already in Pioli’s first games at helm. The team instantly took more attacking approach, trying to be the dominant ones on the field but their mentality was quite weak and fragile at the time. Here’s where Ibra stepped in with his mentality and hunger for win which he successfully transmitted to his teammates.

alexmilan55
alexmilan55
2 months ago
Reply to  Ted

Yes, the game against Lecce, that undeserved 2-2, was a huge change regarding the attacking play, from that moment I liked Pioli and I never was against him. I’ve always supported Pioli since he became Milan’s coach. But to be a good coach you need also, a good team, good players. Pioli knows he has here the chance to become a top class coach, it’s the last chance for him. He failed at Lazio, failed at Inter, but he learned from his mistakes. For example, he had the courage to not start Suso anymore and send him on the bench… Read more »

alexmilan55
alexmilan55
2 months ago

So, Hakan Calhanoglu is fantastic, I hope it’s clear he can’t be compared with De Paul, someone here insisted that De Paul >> Hakan. Never ever ! Milan without Hakan and Bennacer in this moment can’t produce football ! We played without Ibra, it was Rebic, we played without Romagnoli, it was Gabbia, we played without Gigio, it was Reina or his brother, Antonio, but without Hakan and Bennacer, it’s clearly impossible.

Ted
Ted
2 months ago

People and magazines tend to forget that it was Rebić who successfully spearheaded our attack when Ibra was injured and they won us many games in that period, so it is really unfair to say Milan is Ibra dependant. Credits should go to all of them starting from our coach Pioli to Donnarumma, Kjaer, Theo, Ismael, Kessie, Calhanoglu, Leao, Jack, Rebić and Ibra.

Nathan Graegin
Nathan Graegin
2 months ago

The real question is who do we buy. Zlatan despite playing good and needing to stay, needs to come from the bench and allow a younger forward to play. I read Columbo might take over at cf. he can score but the diff is does he have the same skills and physical strength zlatan had at that age. Like others said, rebic is the one who got us the goals. This shows we don’t need a big target forward bc there are a very few like that in the world. Everything revolves around speed. Even Holland is big but he’s… Read more »

Martin Bernhard
Martin Bernhard
2 months ago
Reply to  Nathan Graegin

Well i have no issues with columbo getting more minutes but i do believe it would make sense to bring in scamacca if availabe for a reasonable price as he pretty much has same stature as ibra and is young and has plenty of room for improvement then let him become the understudy of the swede. Another option in my view is to promote our brazilian player cappani who with an height of 1.90m scoring 9 goals in 12 primavera games and let him learn from zlatan. Obviously we might take a completely different road but to me it would… Read more »

alexmilan55
alexmilan55
2 months ago
Reply to  Nathan Graegin

Ibra to come from the bench ? Looool

Milan10
Milan10
2 months ago

TONITE ON LIKE MILAN10 SAID “Milan10 5 months ago Reply to Rosored hakan is actually good when playing more centrally. he has good passing and decent shot power and accuracy” “Milan10 5 months ago Reply to anom just this month i told u gabriel is good and he made serie a team of the week. i told u hakan will play better when he plays centrally and he scored twice and helped milan beat torino. now im telling u, hakan is good free kick taker” “Milan10 8 months ago Hakan played some of the best football since he’s been milan… Read more »

alexmilan55
alexmilan55
2 months ago
Reply to  Milan10

De Paul as AM is weaker than Hakan, it’s my oppinion, as LW/RW I don’t know he’s fast enough. But if we have him instead of Paqueta, I don’t mind at all. De Paul much better than Miranchuk.

Milan10
Milan10
2 months ago
Reply to  alexmilan55

weaker than hakan? because hakan just had stellar 2 months? have u even seen de paul play on regular basis? i have and i can safely say he’s at least on par with prime hakan. so far he has 7 goals 7 assists. hakan has better stats i know but thats understandable because hakan plays for juggernaut milan. hakan is static playmaker who needs to play in the middle to perform, similar to rui costa, scholes, riquelme or lazio’s luis alberto whereas de paul is more dynamic and tenacious playmaker who can practically plays anywhere in mf area or even… Read more »

alexmilan55
alexmilan55
2 months ago
Reply to  Milan10

How many stellar months did have De Paul ? It’s about quality, not stats. Piatek last season had more goals than CR7, this is meaning he is better than CR7 ? De Paul is good, useful for our rotation, different than Hakan but not so brilliant like the turkish guy. Hakan played already in champions league at 21, if we talk about stats, De Paul played to avoid relegation and still wasn’t able to go to a better team and he is 26. Hakan has vision, imagination, fantastic passing and technique, he has something special. I’ve also seen De Paul… Read more »

Milan10
Milan10
2 months ago
Reply to  alexmilan55

lol ur piatek argument is more suitable to describe hakan not de paul; a stellar few months of peak performance. so hakan had 2 good months and all of a sudden he’s better than de paul who has performed well in 2-3 years? luca toni also didnt go to big clubs until he’s 28. likewise papu gomez, and papu is so similar to de paul. hakan was playing in ucl because leverkusen was good team and like hakan himself said in his recent intview, there were only bayern, dortmund as competitors. he failed big time for 2 years in serie… Read more »

Milan10
Milan10
2 months ago

WE NOW RETURN TO MILAN10 KNEW PROGRAM “Milan10 9 months ago Well, that was garbage result for such nice performance, the best since coppa italia final under broccoli. They actually played using 4-2-3-1 and often switched to 4-2-2-2 with kessie paralel to biglia as awesome ball winner. I like how kessie almost always won 50:50 duels and not tried to get creative and instead passed the ball quickly after winning the ball. All in all, i know its too soon to judge but tonite milan looked way better than past 3-4 years and thats on pioli. There was sense of… Read more »

Raven
Raven
2 months ago

where you at bro??? We found the playmaker!

Milan10
Milan10
2 months ago
Reply to  Raven

lol actually i started that “milan need playmaker” routine during miha days, ink only followed my lead

Ink
Ink
2 months ago
Reply to  Milan10

No I didn’t!

Milan10
Milan10
2 months ago
Reply to  Ink

yes u did, with ur “agreed” and whatnot. come on

Ink
Ink
2 months ago
Reply to  Raven

I’m here 😀 Following the blog almost frequently, ofc, but not commenting because of the need to sign in to comment, I am very lethargic about it (almost like Hakan). Come to think of it, extreme lethargy is a sign of covid. Anyway, I am cautiously very happy with Hakan’s performance since reopening (not calling him free kick kid). However, I think we do need another quality player for number 10 role to make sure Hakan realises the position in starting XI is not automatic for him, and he can stay motivated to keep up the performance. Hope Szoboszlai arrives.… Read more »

Milan10
Milan10
2 months ago

so i just read that the saudi consortium who has just been denied by epl to buy newcastle is studying the possibility to buy ac milan. aw hell yeah