Gaitán unveiled: "I've wanted to come here since last summer"
The Argentine player, who joins Atlético on a 25 million euro deal from Benfica, was officially presented and greeted by fans at the Vicente Calderón.
- LaLiga Santander, matchday 20: Alavés-Atlético Live.
Nico Gaitán was presented in the VIP lounge at the Vicente Calderón at 7pm on the dot . Just four hours earlier, the player at arrived at Adolfo Suárez Madrid–Barajas airport and was taken directly to the stadium to sign a contract which will keep him at Atlético for the next four seasons. Atlético have paid Benfica 25 million euros for the 28-year-old.
“Simeone has been following me for a few years and that is always positive - that' whay I decided to come here. I'm very grateful for the interest which Atlético showed in me and I hope I can pay them back out on the pitch", Gaitán told reporters at the airport. Later, it was time to speak to the press again, this time at the Calderón.
What memories do you have of this ground when you won here with Benfica?
It was a Champions League game and we came to win. We knew that Atlético are very strong at home and that it would be dificult. But we were excited and that cancelled out any negative thoughts about possibly losing - they are a bigger name, after all. But out on the pitch it's 11 versus 11 and that night we showed that in football, any team can win. I loved it out there and could feel a ground at which the fans were always right behind their players - like at Boca, and Benfica… I hope the fans are on my side while I'm here too.
What was the key factor which made you decide to sign for Atlético?
Like I've said, they have been following me for several years. They have spoken well of me and asked about my availability.It's important for a player when a coach shows that he is really keen to sign you. That insistence is why I am here today. I've come here after six wonderful years at Benfica, where I was very comfortable, but I made a decision and I hope that this stage of my career goes as best as possible..
What can you bring tol Atlético?
I don't know, I don't really like talking about my game - I leave that for others to do; everyone thinks differently. What I definitely will be able to bring is tactical order, team play - which is what I am most excited about because Atlético have many great players and I hope I can carve out a place for me.
Have you managed to speak to Simeone?
I've only just arrived and I haven't spoken to him yet. I have a good idea of what he will ask of me in training, in what position he wants me to play.. etc. I will try to take it all on board as I always have.
Why didn't you join Atleti before now?
Because there was no agreement between the two clubs. I can make a decision but if the clubs aren't in agreement, it has nothing to do with me. I wanted to come here last summer but there was no agreement. That's not to say I was sad about not being able to come back then, I knew I had to continue playing well and giving my all, like I always have.
So you will already know how physically demanding this club is?
I have heard all about how demanding they are here - I've been through a similar schooling already back home in Argentina, where the physical side of football is very important. I have come here from Portugal and football is less physical over there, it's more about how you manage the ball. I don't know what to expect but I hope to adapt quickly. I'll do exactly what the coach asks of me and hope I am up to the level required.
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