Tonali discusses attachment to Milan, key moments in the season and reveals next dream

By Oliver Fisher -

AC Milan midfielder Sandro Tonali has recapped some of the best and biggest moments of the Scudetto win, while he has set a new target for the club.

Tonali arrived on an initial loan deal from Brescia in the summer of 2020 and ultimately found it difficult to adapt in his first season, though he was eventually bought permanently after some negotiation between the clubs and even accepted a pay cut to facilitate the move.

However, 2021-22 has been a totally different story for the young Italian as he has become the leader of the midfield department having made a tremendous leap in quality and confidence. He scored some big goals and had a big influence as the team went on to win the league for the 19th time.

Tonali gave a long interview to DAZN just before Monday’s open-top bus parade around the city of Milano, with his comments relayed by MilanNews.

On his attachment to the shirt: “It is very high, when you win it changes everything. In Reggio Emilia there were many fans, but we only understood what we had done when we returned to Milan. As a fan I have already lived through these moments, in 2011 I had been waiting for the team and so I know what it means. These are great emotions that don’t happen often. I didn’t want to take videos, but I decided to live these moments and I will always keep them with me.”

On the most beautiful message received: “I received many. My grandmother came to see me against Atalanta, that is the most beautiful message. I thought she would say no given the heat it is but she immediately said yes, it made me really happy.”

On Ibrahimovic: “Even when he’s not playing he stays up all the time on the bench to support us. It’s something for sure. After the match against Sassuolo, he took us like his sons, he talked to us and made us go through all that we have done in the last two and a half years. I hope he continues to play, it is important to have him by our side. He raises the level so much in training and never wants to lose even the matches.”

On Florenzi: “He gave us an extra energy.. He, like Ibra, Kjaer and Giroud, talked to us a lot before the matches. In the last few matches, above all, they helped us a lot.”

On the comparison with De Rossi: “I am pleased to be compared to him. Among those still playing, I really like Thiago Alcantara. He always knows what to do and finds games that the others do not see.”

On the group: “It was a perfect mix. Last year we studied each other and we worked to become those of this year. There is a nice mix between experienced and young players. And how those players who came from abroad like Kalulu and Tomori adapted was also important. They arrived on tiptoe, they are two great professionals as well as being two good people.

“Maignan works from morning to night, has a mind-boggling desire to improve. He always arrives first at Milanello. The first time I saw him I said, ‘this is huge’. Many guys made you understand that there was a great desire to win.”

On whether the team felt the strongest at the beginning of the year: “We knew that last year there was a stronger team than us, no doubt and that it would be difficult to win. I think we weren’t the strongest team in the league this year, but we have shown we can do anything together. I think Inter were the strongest at the squad level. But we have put in everything that has allowed us to become the strongest team in the league.”

On Donnarumma: “He wrote to me, we often speak to each other also because we often see each other in the national team. I hope he has lived this victory well. I am happy for him that he went to a reality other than Milan, but which gave him the chance to win something important and immediately.

“Here, as we all know, there was a path to follow and we are doing it as we have seen since Pioli and Ibra arrived, brick by brick. A strong goalkeeper like him must think about having fun and nothing else.”

On Milan’s best player of the season: “Leao, because he is the player who, in moments of difficulty, made us win several games. When he gets going, you know the ball is coming to you.”

On the key game of the season: “I think the return derby gave us an extra boost.”

On the derbies of recent years: “There is no longer that siege, there is no longer that fear of the derby and you had to believe in the opportunity to win. We play it on equal terms because we understand we are strong.”

On the revelation of the season: “Kalulu.”

On the best goal: “Theo against Atalanta. You knew he was going all the way. In training he always does it.”

On the best save: “Those on Abraham and in the derby.”

On the difference between Maignan and Donnarumma: “Shooting in training at Gigio was difficult because he covered the goal in an impressive way. Mike has incredible reflexes. The moment you think you’ve put it on him at the crossroads and think it’s impossible for him to get it, he gets there. He has an impressive reactivity and strength.”

On his best goal of the year: “The free kick against Cagliari”.

The biggest goal: “Against Lazio.”

On his knack for scoring goals: “There hasn’t been a goal that I gave myself credit for in the last month. These are goals that anyone can score. During training I don’t think so much about shooting on goal, I prefer to play. At the end of training I stop and shoot.”

On being mature: “The derby is something apart from the whole season. It’s 90 minutes where you don’t look anyone in the face. On the pitch you can’t even think that whoever you have in front of you is a teammate of yours. There’s no time. You are focused. The fans get you into a crazy rhythm.

“Serie B has done me good. I entered at a time when there was no VAR, where there was little whistling. I took blows, faraway ball punches. I have played against hammers and this helps you and keeps you going all your life. I played over 80 games with Brescia and I needed them all. There the game was based on rhythm, on competitiveness. In Serie B you fight on every inch and there are players who want to eat everything.”

On where he needs to improve: “In the timing of the tackles. Because if they move the ball and I catch the opponent, nine times out of ten it’s yellow.”

On what he will ask Saint Lucia for next December: “I think we have already asked for a lot. Maybe win a Champions League, maybe not right away, even if it would be better. My dream is that of our fans. Winning the Champions League would be indescribable.”

Tags AC Milan Sandro Tonali
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