AC Milan defender Simon Kjaer has heaped praise upon head coach Stefano Pioli, who he is glad remained at the club rather than Ralf Rangnick arriving.
Milan know that they have the veteran presence of Zlatan Ibrahimovic to lean on as the Swede helps drag the team through games at time, but it is also Kjaer’s Milan too.
Everyone has underlined the importance of the Dane in the turning point that the Rossoneri have experienced post-lockdown, and he has established himself as one of the best signings of the last year as it is easy to forget the club paid just €3.5m to sign him permanently.
Kjaer was interviewed by Danish TV station TV2 about a number of different topics, including his time at Atalanta, Ralf Rangnick’s non-arrival and working under Pioli. His comments were transcribed by MilanNews.
“I’ve never been so good. This 2020 was a positive year for me. I’m proud of my performance,” he began.
On his time at Atalanta: “I have not seen that period as disastrous as many think, it was a decision by the coach. It cannot be said that my performances were bad. I played 6 games, I won 4 and drew 2.
“What happened in Bergamo was just a tactical problem. Gasperini was honest to tell me that a solution had to be found. Milan arrived, I always told Mikkel (his agent) that I always dreamed of playing in Milan. The opportunity came at the moment I least expected. Now I’m in the place where I would like to be.”
On Pioli: “The first day he asked me how I saw the way to defend and how together we could build a team. He asked me what he should have done to put me in the best possible conditions on the pitch and feel at ease.
“Pioli gave me confidence, and still does. He is a fantastic and good coach, both on and off the pitch. But the difference is on a personal level, Pioli is interested first in how I am on a personal level and then as a player.”
On Rangnick’s possible arrival at Milan in the summer: “I observed, obviously I crossed my fingers for Pioli’s stay. It was also a situation in which you could not do much, I could only go on the pitch, win games and show my character and of the team. For the rest I could only cross my fingers, luckily everything went well.”
On the possibility of a renewal: “There are still a few years to go. I’m in the right place and I’d like to stay here for the rest of my career. I’m sure that if I continue to play well until the end of the contract, Milan will renew me once again.”
On the Scudetto: “We believe in it, we have to work hard. The road towards May is still long. But I am optimistic. The Scudetto would be the greatest thing of my career. If it is not the league… then the European Championship.”