Italy goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma said he moved to Paris Saint-Germain ‘to play’ and revealed he speaks a lot with Milan coach Stefano Pioli. ‘I will always be a Rossoneri fan’.
The former Diavolo goalkeeper helped the Azzurri win the European Championship this summer and currently prepares to face Spain in the UEFA Nations League semi-final at San Siro.
Donnarumma returns to the stadium where he spent his entire professional career before moving to PSG when his contract at Milan expired in June.
But life at the French giants has been more difficult than predicted for the 22-year-old, as he has only played four games since joining Mauricio Pochettino’s men.
Donnarumma said he’s ‘excited’ to be back in the fashion capital as a European Champion and stressed Milan ‘are important’ to him.
“I’m excited,” he said at a press conference. “Milan are an important part of my life. I’m excited. Then we are here in a Nations League semi-final, a competition we care about.”
Donnarumma voiced his support for Kalidou Koulibaly, who was racially abused after Fiorentina vs. Napoli on Sunday.
“Us players are with him, we are all against discrimination,” he said. “It’s a shame to hear these things again, we are with Koulibaly and we follow every indication to fight racism.”
The 22-year-old was asked if he is scared of losing his place in Roberto Mancini’s team due to the lack of playing time at PSG.
“There’s no problem. I’m in Paris to play, it’s normal at the beginning. I’m there to play and I’m sure everything will be great; I have no problem for the national team.
“I continue forward on my path, and I hope everything will go well.”
Donnarumma will meet Milan director Paolo Maldini in Milan and stressed there are no problems with the Rossoneri director.
“There’s no problems with Paolo, I complimented him last night as well. I’m pleased to meet my teammates again,” Donnarumma continued.
“I will talk calmly with him and joke, there are no issues. We are adults.”
But the Italy No. 1 stressed he is still developing his own game and said he has high aspirations for himself.
“There’s always a way to learn and improve,” he said. “My target is to go higher and higher, there’s always something to learn from the goalkeeper coach.
“We compare each other in training and try to understand what I need to work on and improve. There’s an excellent relationship between us, we try to structure the training in the best possible way.
“With the new coaches, there’s a different comparison and this makes me happy for my growth.”
Since the last match against Spain, much has changed for Donnarumma, but he revealed he is still following the Rossoneri closely.
“I’m happy with the path that Milan are on, I will always be a Milan fan. I’m happy with Pioli, I often speak to him.
“Over the last two and a half months, I have improved a lot in terms of awareness, I have grown a lot as a man.
“Now, let’s focus on the Nations League semi-final, we hope to continue this path in the best way.”
Italy are currently working to qualify for the World Cup 2022 and Donnarumma believes the Azzurri ‘can have our say’ in Qatar next year.
“There are many expectations, but we humbly continue to work, we move forward,” he added. “We know of our strength; we are an established team, and we know we can compete with anyone.
“We can also have our say at the World Cup, we want to prepare well for all the games, and we hope to compete at the World Cup.
“For now, we must think about the Nations League, which is very important for us.”
Donnarumma recalled the semi-final at the Euros and expects to face a similar Spain in the Nations League.
“The same team we faced the European Championship, we try to improve the situations where we could have done better,” he said.
“It will not be an easy game, in the European Championship it was difficult, it took a lot to advance. Even now, we must be 110 per cent to beat them.”
Paris Saint-Germain have picked up several stars over the summer, including Achraf Hakimi, Gini Wijnaldum, Sergio Ramos and Lionel Messi, while Kylian Mbappé and Neymar were among the names already in the squad.
Donnarumma was asked how it is training with all the superstars at the Ligue 1 side.
“It makes you improve a lot, sometimes there are also battles that make you grow. Training with all these champions helps you develop as a human and as a player,” he said.
“It’s a good challenge, but they are not all scoring, he joked. “I’m happy to train with them and grow, to move forward in this new challenge of mine. I always try to give my best.”
He was asked which team are stronger, Mancini’s Italy or PSG.
“They are two completely different teams,” he continued. “With Italy we have a very specific way of playing, with Mancini we have a very specific identity and we are happy with how things went.
“When we arrive, we always make ourselves available to the coach, we are feeling good together and sometimes we can’t wait to come here to be together, that’s important.
“They are two different situations, I don’t think they can be compared.”
Donnarumma doesn’t fear a hostile environment at San Siro on Wednesday, highlighting that he always gave his best for the Diavolo.
“I have always given everything for Milan, right up until the end,” he said. “I would be sorry, because this is a very important match, a Nations League semi-final, so I hope the fans can help us.”