Defender Pierre Kalulu revealed how Milan directors Paolo Maldini and Ricky Massara first talked with him over video chat and explained that the club were prepared to wait for him. The Frenchman made the switch to the Rossoneri in 2020 and gradually cemented his place in the first team, forming the vital defensive partnership with Fikayo Tomori that led Milan to last seasons Scudetto. Speaking with newspaper La Repubblica (as quoted by SempreMilan), the 22-year-old recounted his early career and journey to Milan, and his conversation with French NBA star Tony Parker:
“Qualification for the next Champions League with Milan at 98%. It will be difficult at Tottenham, but it is a tournament that belongs to Milan’s identity.
“I didn’t grow up in Italy, I would speak of a modern, attacking game, a lot of running, intensity in duels: 20 minutes of the Champions League are more intense.”
“Serie A more tactical? It depends on who you face, but it’s true that the coaches pay more attention to the defensive phase. In France you defend more as a block, here more individually, one-on-one, which is sometimes more of a risk, but matches against Napoli and Inter are always the most European.”
“Serie A v the Premier League? You feel at the same level but the pace has to be higher, everything is faster, effective time changes and you feel it on the pitch. As for money, it helps, but it’s not the price that makes the talent.”
“I was in the second team at Lyon, Maldini and Massara over a video call told me enthusiastic things about my way of playing: things only those who had observed me for a long time could tell me. This flattered me, it was very nice: they told me that Milan would wait for me 2 months, 6 months, 1 year, 1 year and a half.
“Tony Parker? He video-called me from the USA. I thought I was hallucinating, a three-quarter hour conversation. He told me: I know your talent, the choice is yours. Having his number in your diary is not for everyone.”
“Joining Milan? The amount has never conditioned me. That money didn’t end up in my pocket and it’s not up to me to say if someone made a mistake and someone else made a mistake. But I’m proud to have proved to be stronger than people thought.”
“The new stadium project? Lyon have moved from the old Gerland to a futuristic stadium. San Siro is different, but if the club decides to abandon it, it means we need it. If there is a new one I hope to see it before leaving Milan.”