Gudmundsson: ‘I will miss Genoa….but nothing is certain yet’


Albert Gudmundsson admits that he will miss Genoa if he is to leave this summer, saying Serie A has ‘matured’ him as a player. The Icelandic forward is one of the most in-demand players this summer, with Juventus, Napoli and Inter closely following his situation. Speaking with La Gazzetta dello Sport, the 26-year-old talked about his time with Genoa, what he’ll miss from the club and the city, and why he’s not ready to leave Italy just yet, despite Premier League interest:

As you sit outdoors, in the sun, among the people and places that have become familiar to you in the two and a half years since you arrived in Italy, what do you think?

“Beautiful,” he replies in Italian. Then in English, for the rest of the interview: “A unique place, enchanting, with its own romanticism. I like it very much.”

Why did you choose to live here, when most of your colleagues seek refuge from fans’ attention by living in more isolated places?

“I’m twenty minutes from our training center and close to the sea, in a city as beautiful as this. I swim even in winter because it relaxes me. For living, there’s no better place than Italy: for the climate, the hospitality of the people, the food. I only eat Italian now, I go crazy for carbonara. On my days off, I like to go to the Cinque Terre, or Portofino, Sanremo, Milan. Sometimes I even go to Monaco, in the Principality.”

So, when you leave Genoa, you’ll miss all this…

“Sure (he repeats it twice). But nothing is certain yet. At Genoa, I play as I like: free.”

Against Cagliari, you scored the 100th goal of your career, including those with your national youth teams: did you expect to reach this milestone, and did you think you would do it sooner?

“At first, I didn’t think about it, then I started counting them. The goal is to reach two hundred.”

Your best goal this season?

“The second one against Udinese: I got the ball from Retegui at the edge, just inside the area, and slotted it into the top corner at the near post with my right foot.”

The best game you played?

“At home against Roma. We won 4-1, I scored the first goal and was involved in two others.”

The toughest opponent?

“Cagliari’s Hatzidiakos: I still have the marks from the hits I took.”

You are the Serie A player most involved in your team’s goals with either a goal or an assist: how much of this is your merit and how much is the system’s?

“Coach Gilardino has raised my level and, on the other hand, I feel comfortable whether I play alongside Retegui or Ekuban. We all know what to do on the field, how to move, and which spaces to attack, and that’s thanks to the coach. We are a balanced team, a mix of experience and youth. As a result, we are eleventh in the standings: amazing for a newly promoted team. And next year, Genoa can do even better.”

Did you expect to perform this well in your first full season in Serie A? You arrived in January two years ago, in a team that couldn’t avoid relegation, and didn’t make the impact you could have.

“I was confident that I could do well in Serie A because last season in Serie B helped me understand and adapt better to your football, favored by playing in a team that worked wonderfully and earned promotion. I certainly didn’t expect to score 14 goals, but the more I score, the more confident I become.”

So much that you’re ready for a big step, leaving your comfort zone to seek new limits, as you said you like to do in your first interview with Sportweek a few months ago?

“I feel ready, yes, but something really big needs to come up to convince me to leave here. Because I, here, I repeat, am very happy. And then I need to find a coach like Gilardino: as I said, he gives me a lot of freedom on the field.”

Could something big come from England? A few weeks ago, you said in an interview with the Telegraph that you would love to play in the Premier League. Would that be better than staying in Serie A?

“As a child, I dreamed of reaching the Premier League, but since playing here, I’ve somewhat changed my mind because I like living in Italy so much… There’s life here… So, I’m not desperate to leave. Also, like with my potential departure from Genoa, it has to be something huge to make it happen.”

Something huge, as you say, could be a call from Arnie Slot, who coached you in the Netherlands at AZ and will become the new Liverpool manager.

“Except he hasn’t called me yet. But who knows…”

And a call from an Italian coach?

“None. But I remember Atalanta’s Gasperini complimenting me after a game.”

You’ve played against Inter: what impressed you about the team and which of their players?

“They have shown they are the best; they can do everything well. They have a system that works. I was very impressed by Calhanoglu: he sets up play, defends, passes the ball powerfully and accurately both short and long, and shoots…”

Same question regarding Milan.

“Strong, they move all over the field, and I like how they control the game. I like Reijnders, another midfielder who can do a bit of everything.”

What about Juve?

“Very ‘Italian’, compact. We drew with them twice, which is a great pride for a team like ours.”

Your maternal grandfather, Ingi Bjorn Albertsson, played for Arsenal, the first Icelander in England and the second foreigner in the club’s history: would it be a full circle to end up at the Gunners?

“My grandfather also played for Milan, but that doesn’t mean I’m a fan of Milan or Arsenal. Still, it’s a nice story.”

What could push you towards the Premier League, and what could convince you to stay in Serie A?

“Premier League would mean a new experience, both in football and life, after the Netherlands and Italy. Serie A has matured me, and I feel it can still give me a lot, because you play a tough, tactical, and physical game here, which makes a player complete in every way. But I repeat: much depends on the coach. Gilardino gives me defensive duties, but when we have the ball, he lets me find the spaces to attack on my own. So, my decision will be less about the league and more about what the potential new coach asks of me.”

After all, there’s a bit of England in Genoa: the stadium and the passion of the people are very British.

“Yeah. The fans live for Genoa, they stop me on the street to compliment me after a game and motivate me for the next one. I still remember the fan who drove me home on his scooter the night we celebrated promotion to Serie A. He messaged me just a few days ago.”

Realistically, how likely are you to stay another year in Genoa?

“I can’t say right now. It’s no secret that Genoa needs to make money and that I’d like to take a step forward. We’ll see what’s best for both of us, but at this moment, both doors are open: leaving or staying.”

Do you consider yourself more of a second striker, a winger, or an attacking midfielder? Do you feel like a “number 10”?

“My favorite position is as a number 10, but I can play on the left, right, or closer to the goal. It’s important for me to have the freedom to express my creativity and unleash my skills.”

Today you spent 6 hours with us, doing everything from playing a game with kids to jumping into the sea at 7 PM: are you naturally this kind, or are Icelanders generally so available to others?

“A bit of both. We Icelanders are polite, if we say yes to someone, we see it through. Also, as a kid, I was fortunate to meet many adults who treated me with kindness, and I absorbed their behavior, transferring it to my interactions with others.”

But the continuous requests for photos and autographs we witnessed today, don’t they bother you after a while?

“If I’m doing the job I love and have a comfortable life, it’s thanks to these people. They are the ones who ultimately pay my salary.”

Are you the most famous athlete in Iceland today?

“There have been Icelandic footballers at Barcelona or Chelsea, but at this moment, I think it’s me.”


Serie A obsessive.