Paris Saint-Germain's new Spanish midfield recruit Ander Herrera, who signed on a free from Manchester United last week, has spoken of his ambitions with the reigning Ligue 1 Conforama champions.
"Not everyone has the opportunity to be at PSG, so I feel very lucky," said new Parisian recruit Ander Herrera, just before the capital returned to training as pre-season preparations began on Monday.
Glad to join a club where "Golden Ball contenders" are playing, Ander Herrera, who calls himself a "team player", believes that Paris Saint-Germain must "continue to be the strongest team in France" in order to "fight for the Champions League title".
Why did you choose PSG?
"When a club with a big, ever-growing project, located in one of the most beautiful cities in the world, comes to you, it's not very difficult to make a decision. When you leave a big club like Manchester United, the only places you can go are those like Paris: the biggest French club, which has some of the best players in the world. Not everyone has the opportunity to be at the PSG, so I feel very lucky. "
What did Leonardo tell you about the new project?
"I spoke with him and I think we share the same vision of football, of the objectives, and of what this club should be. He knows what I can contribute: I am a team player, who always gives everything for the club and his teammates. If you want to achieve all the objectives you set at the beginning of the season, the only way to do so is to rely on a strong core that shares a common vision. »
What are your objectives in Paris?
"I don't like to set long-term goals for myself; I prefer to do it on more of a day-to-day basis. Let's start by winning the Trophée des Champions Trophy [3 August 3rd] in China, and by playing in the best possible way. The same goes for the next game and so on."
'This team has incredible talent'
However, the Champions League remains the competition by which the club's season will be judged. Are you confident that PSG will finally succeed this year?
"You know, in Europe there are eight to ten clubs that want to win it: Juventus, Real Madrid, Barcelona, Manchester City, Liverpool, Tottenham, Munich... But only one can do it. I think we have to continue to be the strongest team in France. Last year we won the championship and played incredibly well but we didn't win both cups. The next challenge will be to win all the titles in France and, of course, try to fight for the Champions League title."
Your Manchester side eliminated PSG in the Champions League round of 16. What weaknesses did you find in this team?
"At the time, PSG were without Neymar and Cavani [both injured]. We had several options (to take advantage of it) but they beat us at home (0-2) by playing in an extraordinary way. But right now, I don't want to talk about the past. I know that this team has incredible talent in every position."
How good is 'incredible'?
"I think we have a couple of Golden Ball contenders in this team. I want to learn from them, whether it is Thiago Silva, Marquinhos, and of course Neymar, and Kylian Mbappé. I've already played with Angel Di Maria, I know his qualities. There's also Marco Verratti, one of my favourite players... We have incredible players! I will also be there to help them improve, and make them better players. »
What else do you think you can bring?
"I look forward to being in front of coach Thomas Tuchel to bring my energy, passion and professionalism to the party. I can't promise goals or titles, but if you are professional, and if you respect your club, your teammates, your opponents and your supporters, everything will come naturally."
The club's midfield struggled a lot last year. Are you the cure?
"I wouldn't say I'm the cure. I am only one part of the team but I will give my all to help, no matter how the coach wants to use me. I played several positions in Manchester's midfield: attacking, box-to-box, in front of the defence and even as a defender under Mourinho! I can help with ball-winning and being the first player to defend when the team needs to react and press."