How were your beginnings in Argentina?
“I started playing at Banfield. I made my debut in the First Division when I was 17 years old, with Jorge Burruchaga as coach. I was there from 2008 to 2012 and then I went to Vélez Sarsfield, where I had an incredible year. Six months after arriving we were champions and I had a great time. Then the following year they already sold me to Shakhtar Donetsk ”.
Is the training of the lower categories very different in your country?
“I don't know how they work now, but I had a great time. I started playing when I was eight or nine years old and everyone already knew me. I had a very good childhood at the club. Later, technically and tactically, perhaps now he has improved. Here all the children begin to work pass and reception, to orient the body and all those things that were not worked so much there ”.
How did you get famous as a teenager?
“Is rare. One could not believe it and more from one day to another, as was my case. I was going to school and one day they called me to train with the first team and at the end of training they told me that I was going to be focused. I entered twenty minutes, I did not do it badly and I continued playing, I scored and I was already in the first team. It changed my life because I still lived in the center, where all the Banfield fans were. I would go out into the street and everyone recognized me and asked for photos. I could'nt believe it”.
Was your ego enlarged at that age?
“I always tried to keep my feet on the ground and my family let me know. At some point I even became too humble. Sometimes it is good to believe it in a good way and that that contributes to you when it comes to playing. Then there is believing yourself superior when you go down the street and think that because you are a soccer player you can already do or say what you want and they will say yes to everything. That happens if you play well, the moment things go wrong, all the shit you did is going to go against you. It happens in football and in life, in general. Today everything is much more exaggerated with social networks. A game is being played and if you don't score, they're whoring you, but if you score, the same person who was whoring you five minutes ago is praising you ”.
His jump to Europe was to Ukraine. Why did you make that decision?
“I had had a good year in Velez and I met with a Shakhtar agent. That year they were playing in the Champions League, they had a great team and I didn't hesitate much. It was very strange for me from day one because everything was different. The language, the culture, the food… I didn't have a great time the first year, but neither did my personality, which is very closed. The team was full of Brazilians who wanted to help me, but I was very closed and that played against me ”.
What is it like to live in a country at war?
“I lived in Donetsk before the war broke out, then I went to Kiev. I didn't understand anything, I knew that things were happening, but I didn't understand the language and I didn't know what the news was saying. They didn't tell us anything at the club either, but then you would go around town and see situations that no longer seemed normal to me. I was going to train on the outskirts of Donetsk and the Ukrainian police were always there, until suddenly the Ukrainian police were no longer there and there were people with their heads covered and with machine guns. I said what is this? I would pass by, they would ask us for documents and I would just tell them: 'Shakhtar, Shakhtar', so they would let me pass. We were like that until the end of the championship and when we left, everything exploded ”.
Did you experience fearful situations?
“There were many demonstrations, I remember. The government buildings were all taken over, they were barricaded with wires, with rubber bands … That looked like Call of Duty. One was going down the street and it looked like we were playing Call of Duty. At some point I got scared, but they always told me that nothing was wrong. When we left, after a few weeks everything exploded ”.
You and the Brazilians even refused to go back.
“Yes, we were doing the preseason in France or Switzerland and after a friendly match we had to go back to Ukraine to play. Just that day they had thrown a commercial plane in Donetsk, in which all the people who were traveling had died. At that time, we were scared and decided not to travel to Kiev. I was in Frankfurt for two weeks until my departure to Newcastle was arranged ”.
His time in the Premier was not satisfactory at all.
“It was a year to forget. I had arrived badly from Shakhtar, because since I wanted to go I did not train as I should. It was something that served me as an experience, beyond not being comfortable, you have to always be prepared. When I went to Newcastle it took me a while to adapt and then I had a back problem that left me without playing for several months.
The next jump was to Benfica, where a certain Joao Felix emerged.
“I remember that I arrived and they told me about an 18-year-old boy who played well. I saw him and he looked like a baby, but in training you could already see the quality he had. In addition, he did not care to play with the reserve team than with the Benfica first team. That boy has no roof, he can go where he wants. One day he can easily win the Ballon d'Or. It has everything, quality and mentally it is very strong “
“Joao Félix has no roof, he can go where he wants to go. One day he can easily win the Ballon d'Or”
During his time at Benfica, he made an interval at Espanyol, of which he does not keep fond memories.
“At the football level, the truth is that no. Borja Iglesias was doing very well and I also broke my hamstring and I was standing for five weeks. The following year, I started the preseason well, I was gaining confidence, I had scored several goals in the Europa League preview and also in LaLiga, but again I broke my hamstring, this time the other one, and when I return they had already changed technicians . That's when the team's debacle began and also my personal one. When Abelardo arrived, I already knew that he was not taking me very seriously. I was aware that I was not at my best level. The descent was very ugly ”.
And finally, the Celtic. How did this signing come about?
“Some close friend of Chacho approached to tell me that he loved me and I said yes. At Benfica I was not playing almost anything, did I know that my time there was over and everything was solved very quickly?
Why did you only sign until the end of the season?
“They told me they want to see how I am first. The reality is that I come from two bad seasons and that they make me a long contract was not logical, I knew it. They offered me these six months and then it will be seen according to my performance ”.
He started on the right foot, with a goal for the Metropolitan.
“Yes, I was able to push that goal to draw a draw, but now we have to show that I can stay here a long time. Physically I feel fine, but I am aware that I lack rhythm. Against Valencia I felt that it cost me, especially in the physical part and timing. I knew I was coming in these conditions and I have to take advantage of the minutes that I get. “
Does knowing that Coudet trusts you give you peace of mind?
“Yes, I come from a whole year with two coaches who didn't take me into account and your self-esteem goes down because you don't feel important, you don't feel comfortable. I felt it and I didn't feel good. I'm not playing here, but I know I can come in at any time and help the team. It's something that raises my self-esteem and it will help me feel happy on the pitch ”.
What surprised you the most at Celta?
“They have high quality players, there are players with very good footing. When I was at Espanyol I didn't understand that they were fighting for relegation. Then there is Aspas, who is a top player, to play in a big team. He has an out-of-the-box vision of the game, it's different.
Another player with a good footing who was about to come is Cervi, has he already convinced you to be here in the summer?
“I tried not to talk to him too much because I know he was close to coming here, but now he's at Benfica and as a friend I want him to do well. If it doesn't go well, you may want to go out and can come. Soccer is like that, they didn't take him into account, he wasn't playing, but he had to leave in two or three games due to casualties, he was the best of the team and they wouldn't let him out ”.