New AC Milan signing Alexis Saelemaekers has insisted he has his eye firmly on a starting spot after making his first appearance for the Rossoneri on Sunday.
The Belgian arrived on deadline day as the club’s last signing of the January window, having arrived from Anderlecht on an initial deal until June.
The 20-year-old will mainly act as a replacement for Suso, who signed for Sevilla on Wednesday following a very poor start to the season.
Saelemaekers has in fact already made his debut, coming on for the final 13 minutes of Sunday’s 1-1 draw with Hellas Verona as right-back Davide Calabria made way.
He gathered in front of the media at Casa Milan on Tuesday morning for his official unveiling, and MilanNews.it transcribed his words.
“Sunday was very important for me. A dream come true,” he said.
“My new team-mates? They welcomed me very well, it shocked me. A fantastic welcome.
“I found myself in front of great profiles like Maldini and Boban. They are players that I have always admired, a childhood dream that is coming true. Ibra I saw on TV, now I see him in the locker room. It’s a special thing, it gives me the strength to give everything.
“I entered as a right back, it’s a role I like. From a defensive point of view I can play well, but I can also play the same offensively. I always try to play my best and help my teammates.
“I have not yet spoken well with the coach [about a role], but from what I understand they have a specific plan for me.
“I will work to dispel any doubts, I am ready for Milan. I want to concentrate only on my work and become a starter.”
“Crossing, in my opinion, I’m good at assisting. My main characteristic is making crosses.”
The formula of the deal is a loan with option to buy, something the young wide man was asked about.
“I don’t know, it doesn’t concern me directly. It’s about the club, I don’t even want to know. I only care about the field and train hard.
“Anderlecht were always honest with me. Now I’m here and it was my decision. They said it could be a good solution.”
“Why number 56? The 56 is the first number I had in professional football and it brought me luck. I hope to keep it until the end. I am comfortable with Bennacer, also all the others who speak French. I will try to learn Italian as soon as possible.”
On Sunday’s derby against Inter: “A derby is definitely something important, the great players come out. I hope I can play in order to help the team.”
Lukaku, friend or rival? “He complimented me when I arrived. He said I can ask him for advice on the city. It’s nice to meet someone from your country.”
Did Saelemaekers benefit from the youth-oriented approach in Belgium?
“Absolutely yes, even in Anderlecht young players are privileged. I was able to benefit from excellent training and I am grateful to my club. The psychological aspect is also important”.