Diogo Dalot.

Dalot: What I learned in Italy

Friday 24 September 2021 09:05

Manchester United defender Diogo Dalot is keen to use the experience garnered from his season-long loan with AC Milan in 2020/21 to help the Reds kick on in the current campaign.

The 22-year-old made his first United start since returning from his Serie A spell, in Wednesday’s Carabao Cup meeting with West Ham.

It came off the back of two substitute appearances for our no.20 – against Wolves and Young Boys – in the opening weeks of the season and the full-back is eager to play his part for the Reds over the coming months.

He expressed that desire, along with giving an insight into his time at Milan, during an exclusive interview that was first seen in the midweek edition of United Review. 

Here is the interview, from our official matchday programme, in full…
90 in 20: United 0 West Ham 1 Video

90 in 20: United 0 West Ham 1

In case you missed the game, or want to take another look, here are the extended highlights…

Firstly Diogo, how are you feeling after the first month or so of the season... training hard and hoping to get opportunities? 
“I feel very, very good and with lots of energy. I’m excited to start playing and I’m ready to help the team. That’s why I’m here and that’s my job, to be prepared to play. I’m fighting for that and that’s why I stayed, to be ready to play and help the team.”

How beneficial was your year on loan at AC Milan last season and how do you feel you’ve progressed over the past 12 months? 
“I think it was very important in terms of confidence and game time. I was the only player who was available for every game through the season and that’s an extra thing for me which I didn’t have in the two seasons before that. I feel very energetic, fit and more mature – that’s the big point for me and I’m ready to show everyone what I can do.”
Is there anything specific you learnt from your spell in Italy? 
“You learn a little bit of everything, not just because it’s a different culture and a different league and different people – there are always learning points, not just football-wise but outside football too. But on the football side, I’ve experienced very different ways of playing in the Premier League and in Italy – it’s a different style of playing and I adapted to that. I think I’ve learnt a lot of things that can help me succeed this year.”

Of course, since your return to Manchester United, the club have signed your fellow countryman Cristiano Ronaldo. How excited are you to have him here? 
“It’s fantastic not just for me to have Cristiano here, but for everyone. He gives so much energy to everyone and he’s been fantastic. I texted him and congratulated him about coming back as soon as it was confirmed. He said how happy he was to be part of this club again. He wants to help the team and that’s what we want, and he’s been doing that already. I think fans can expect the same Cristiano as always. To be here winning what he has won and playing like he is playing, you can expect the best. We are here to help him, and he is here to help us as well, and I think everything combined we can do great things.”

What quality do you most admire about his game? 
“I think it’s the way he conducts himself and prepares himself for the games. Obviously, now watching that closely, it’s another level and it’s special to combine the way you saw him before [he came back] and now you can see him behind the scenes as well and combine everything. It’s amazing to have that energy and that mentality also in the dressing room. I think he brings everybody up and I think that’s so positive for us.”
Cristiano Ronaldo and Diogo Dalot.
When you look around the dressing room and see the fantastic spirit among this team and the great quality in the squad, does it feel like you can achieve something special together?
“Everybody is excited about this season. I’ve said before, it is not a sprint, it’s a marathon, we know this is a long season. We need to go step by step, game by game, with the mentality that in May we want to be there fighting for trophies and fighting to win every single competition we’re in. We are focused on our goal, which is to be fighting for trophies. I think we have everything, we just have to work towards our goal.”

There is great strength in our defence, and it must be fantastic to have someone like Raphael Varane to learn from at the back, as well as all our other quality defenders... 
“Yes, I think you can learn a little of everything from everyone, not just those who came in. Obviously, the competition is always healthy for the team. Personally, I think that’s one of the big things we have this season because everybody is fighting for a place, and everyone wants to play. No-one will be comfortable with the position they’re in because they know others are fighting to play. That’s always healthy for the club and for ourselves as well because it keeps our minds busy and ready to fight for a place in the team.”

You face tough tests in training against our many attacking players – how can that help you in preparation for games? 

“It’s a challenge in training, but if you’re training with very good players and some of the best players in the Premier League, then you’re always going to be well prepared for the games. Obviously, you face different challenges and different players, but when you train with high quality and at a high intensity, then you’re going to be more prepared. I think we need to maintain that level and be professional every single day, be humble as well and be ready for every game.”

Early team news for Villa visit article

Discover the latest from both camps in advance of our next Premier League assignment, on Saturday.

A lot of the young attackers have talked about how much they’ve been learning off someone like Edinson [Cavani] – is it the same for you from a defensive perspective? 
“It’s always a challenge when you’re training with someone like him, especially for defenders because we are playing against players who are very creative, very good on the ball and very good without the ball, so for us it’s always the best thing. The challenges go up and the demands on yourself go up, and that’s positive for everyone.”

Finally, a lot of the fans have asking about your ‘pulse’ goal celebration – can you tell us the story behind it?
“Ah yes, ‘check the pulse’! [Smiles] It’s a funny thing... I had a couple of friends in the national team, and we were playing Uno and when we are putting down the +4 cards, everybody was like this [points to neck] because we didn’t have any more +4 cards so it was a funny thing. After that we thought it could be a group celebration if we scored in the national team, which hasn’t happened yet. But after that we decided that every time one of us scored, we would do it. It’s an original thing, it’s not something I’ve seen before and it’s a good one! [Laughs] I will definitely do it for my next goal!

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