Empoli star Riccardo Saponara gave Football-Italia.net an exclusive interview, covering a possible return to Milan and how he’ll choose his next club.
The Italy Under-21 international was frustrated with the lack of first team football at San Siro and flourished again at the Stadio Castellani, earning links with Juventus, Liverpool, Roma and many more top clubs.
How does it feel to be the focus of so many transfer rumours?
“For a while now I’ve entirely ignored these rumours, because they are just passing through. Yes, it’s frustrating, as some questions become monotonous and I therefore have to be repetitive in my answers. I can’t really answer them either, as I don’t know the reality of what’s going on.”
It’s reported you could move abroad. What elements does a player have to consider when choosing his next club? How much do lifestyle, prestige and the chance of playing regularly count in that decision?
“Certainly I think before anything else you need the foundations to get an opportunity, because nobody is guaranteed regular football at a big club, you have to earn it.
“The important thing is that a player has opportunities. The choice is global and is not just about what happens on the pitch, but goes on to the fans, environment around the club and the city.
“It is a choice that has to take the complete package into account, so there are many elements a player has to consider when making his decision.”
Why is it so difficult in Italy for youngsters to play regularly?
“I think recently, slowly, the young players have been finding their space even in the top clubs. There are many more than there were in the past, perhaps because there is less money in the market and fewer top players in Italy, so that pushes the clubs to give more space to youth.
“I do believe the situation is changing and hopefully it’ll keep changing for the better.”
The role of the trequartista has a very strong tradition in Italian football, but is it disappearing?
“No, I think this year we’ve seen many trequartisti in Serie A, like Napoli at the start, Juve, Palermo with Franco Vazquez and Genoa, so it’s an option that might not be the most popular, but you can see the trequartista shine in games.”
Did you have any football idols who you then faced on the pitch?
“Yes, Kaka and I even got to meet him in the locker room, to admire him, get to know him and try to steal a few secrets. Even watching…