Atalanta defender Giorgio Scalvini says trying to stop Napoli is the kind of challenge he likes: ‘They are the best in Europe, but we can cause them difficulties.” Scalvini is considered one of the most promising youngsters in Italian football, and ahead of La Dea hosting the Partenopei this weekend, the young centre-back spoke with La Gazzetta dello Sport about his rise tot he first team and what the future holds for him:
I’m playing at present but I hope to continue playing well for many years.
And after your future as a player?
“I study English, to improve it: I would like to stay in the world of football, but off the pitch”.
An 18-year-old who has already played 27 games in Serie A: how much did it take to start at that level 17 years old?
“More than anything else it was encouragement from Gasperini: “We will need you too, you are not just a squad number” – Such a signal always gives confidence.”
You never had doubts that it was too early?
“I didn’t have time to ask myself the question: I just thought I’d make it happen”.
The best advice?
“In addition to those of the coach, the defensive secrets of Toloi, Djimsiti and Demiral are very important. And in the locker room the voice of De Roon and Hateboer counts a lot for a young man like me.”
You give the impression of being impervious to everything: from the weight of responsibilities to transfer rumors….
“Yes, I see myself in this image: it depends on the education given by my parents, the rules for Atalanta players and on my character: I can isolate myself, even from the pressures.
Mentality for me means first of all knowing how to remain humble, attuned to reality. Feet are a gift, and you can still work on them. Your mentality is not: either you have it, or you don’t have it.”
One thing you certainly have is felxibility: Scalvini as a defender or midfielder has been talked about for months now. Have you never felt it as a burden?
“A burden? never, never. But when the coach set me up as a midfielder, understanding a new role was not easy: I had just learned how to be a defender for Gasperini, who wants other things.”
“More speed and speed, and if you are 1.94m tall you have to work on it. And also more aggression in the defensive phase “.
How many goals do you feel you have in your feet or head?
“How many, I do not know, some for sure, especially on dead balls. But you can’t say that playing the midfield role is easier, even if you are closer to the goal – the only goal I scored was playing in that role. Indeed, for certain things it is almost easier to start from back and have more of the pitch to run into.”
Gasperini encouraged you and then also there was Mancini: Any words from him that you will not forget?
“Practically the same:” You are part of this group: you are much younger, but for me you are like the others.”
What did you learn from the defeat with Lazio?
“We thought we had grown, but instead, we never stop improving: especially in periods when they’re attacking and we needed to readjust for ball recovery. And with Napoli it will serve us well…”
Napoli are a physical team, fast, and of great attacking quality: and this remains, even if several players have left”.
Klopp said that today Napoli play the best football in Europe: exaggerated?
“The numbers say it, not just Klopp. We must try to put them in difficulty, studying their characteristics: they have great individuals, they play spectacularly, but they too, like everyone else, can have difficulties. We will focus on those to try to hurt him.”
Like Liverpool did on Tuesday with set-pieces?
“We try with everyone and we will do it with them too: trying to stop the strongest is one of those challenges that we like. It is still the first against the second, no?”
Their key player: Lobotka, Kvara or Osimhen?
“And Kim in the defensive phase no?”.
Do you think you will play it as a defender or midfielder?
“I have no idea, I just hope to play…”.