AC Milan winger Alexis Saelemaekers has stressed that rotating with Junior Messias is a positive, and shed some light on Charles De Ketelaere’s adaptation.
Saelemaekers was the man who scored Milan’s first goal of their 2022-23 Champions League group stage campaign as he netted the equaliser in Austria against Red Bull Salzburg that helped earn his side a point, and for a lot of fans and pundits he was the star performer among Pioli’s men.
Tomorrow’s game against Dinamo Zagreb promises to be an equally stern test as the Croatian champions are currently first in Group E thanks to a 1-0 victory against Chelsea in the first round of action, while they have taken 25 points out of 27 available and have a 10-point lead atop their league domestically.
Saelemaekers spoke to the reporters who gathered at Milanello for the pre-match press conference, with his comments relayed by MilanNews and translated below.
You scored in Portugal for Europa League qualification (against Rio Ave), and another important goal came in Salzburg…
“Since being little, scoring a goal in the Champions League is a goal you dream of. When you do it it’s important, but it’s important to play our game.”
On the alternation with Messias: “It is important to have a player who plays in your place. It stimulates me a lot to try to do everything I can to try to be a starter, but in the end the coach decides. In the big clubs there are strong players, it’s right that there is competition.”
On Dinamo’s victory against Chelsea: “Every match is important, we don’t look at what Dinamo did. We play at our level and the strongest will win.”
On his current level: “For me it is important to play with mentality and help during the week. I try to give everything and help the team to win.”
On whether the draw against Salzburg was influenced by the derby: “We are always calm, then it can happen that even the big teams lose. I think if we play at our level we are a strong team and we can win the next matches.”
On Leao’s absence, and who could replace him against Napoli: “I’m not the coach, he makes his choices and I respect them. I’m a player. I just want to play, where it doesn’t matter: I’ll always give everything.”
On the arrival of De Ketelaere: “I see Charles looking very well in the team; he arrived calm and serene, sure of his abilities. I helped him on the off-field things which is one of the difficult things for a player who comes from abroad. He is a great player, I’m sure he will help the team this season.”
On the Belgian national team: “For me it is a great joy to play in such a strong national team. I knew we had great players, we are doing well in the national team and it is an extra experience for me to play in a great club and in a great national team.”