Calhanoglu reveals how the 4-4-2 has changed his role; praises Rebic and Castillejo

By Oliver Fisher -

AC Milan midfielder Hakan Calhanoglu believes the second goal of his brace against Torino on Tuesday night was his best in a Rossoneri shirt so far.

Calhanoglu – off the bench as Milan’s final substitute – equalised with a fantastically taken strike from distance, and he did the same again early in the second period of extra time to give the Rossoneri the lead.

In the end, it would be a match-winning brace from the Diavolo’s No.10 and what will hopefully mark a transformation of fortunes.

Calhanoglu was interviewed by Milan TV on Thursday evening, starting by discussing his brace in midweek, and his words were transcribed by MilanNews.it.

“I’m happy, but my team-mates and the team always come before me, because the game is the most important to us,” he said.

“It doesn’t matter if I start the game or come on, the team always comes first. I did my job and I’m glad I helped my team-mates. Now we are in the semi-final against Juventus and it will be a difficult game because they are strong. But there is still time to work and improve and let’s see what happens.”

Arsenal, Atalanta or Torino: which is his favourite goal so far for Milan?

“All of them, but I really like the one against Torino on the left because it is not an easy goal with me being right-footed, the left is not my strong foot but I hit it well. I therefore think that the one against Torino is the most beautiful.”

The Turkey international has already worked under Vincenzo Montella, Gennaro Gattuso, Marco Giampaolo and now Stefano Pioli – all of whom have had him as a key part of their side.

“I respect all the coaches, I do my job and I only think about this. The number 10 is no longer as it once was, because if for example you see Liverpool with players like Mane and Salah they do a great job in defence too,” he said.

“Now the formation has changed and I also do this type of work, I like to help out. There is always time to improve, I feel. Two weeks ago I hurt my calf, and I worked hard to get back on the field as soon as possible. I think I came back well.

“We didn’t have a good game against Brescia but now the results count. We want to keep winning and now we only think about Sunday against Verona: we want to win at home in front of our fans.

“Verona is a strong team that runs a lot and plays a lot on 1v1 battles, it will be a difficult game but we must be calm.”

On the arrival of Zlatan Ibrahimovic: “He is a champion, he always helps us and always spurs us to do better. It is good for us, since he has been here we have won many games.”

Ante Rebic and Samu Castillejo are two players who have undergone somewhat of a resurgence since the switch to 4-4-2.

“I have always believed in Rebic, I already knew him when he was in the Bundesliga,” Hakan stated.

“Samu also has many qualities, but in the end the decisions are made by the coach. But the two of them are in an incredible moment, they played two-three games at the top level. We are a team, we must be united and then in the end the result always comes.

“We always want to give the three points to the fans and until recently this did not happen. We know that our fans are always there, but we hear it on the pitch when they are angry and whistle. But we are professionals, we must play with heart and desire, not only for us but for everyone who is at Milan. In the last few weeks we have done well, we hope to continue like this.

“I think that in the second half our fans encourage us more and we feel this, so we play more motivated and this also happened in the last game.”

A number of players have left this window, including the likes of Fabio Borini, Pepe Reina, Suso, Krzysztof Piatek and likely Ricardo Rodriguez soon too. However, Calhanoglu will not lose touch with them.

“We are all friends, I like this about football. Make new friends and you are always together, even off the pitch. I will miss everyone, I love them and I wish them the best.”

Tags AC Milan Hakan Calhanoglu