Hakan Calhanoglu discussed his role at Inter, their ambitions this season and his desire to pen a new contract with the club.
The 28-year-old Turkish midfielder joined the Nerazzurri on a free transfer last year after his deal expired with Milan, ending a four-year period with the Rossoneri. He has become an important part of Simone Inzaghi’s squad in the Lombardy capital, scoring three goals and providing five assists in 20 appearances across all competitions this campaign.
Speaking to Corriere della Sera, Calhanoglu first discussed how he feels at Inter and the importance of their upcoming clash with Napoli.
“I feel good and I want to be even more important for Inter. Here they helped me from the start and made me feel at ease. I want to repay this trust by winning another trophy, maybe the Scudetto.
“We believe in the comeback, if we resume with the same quality of the last games before the break we can make it. The match against Napoli on January 4 at the San Siro will be decisive, it will tell us so much about the rest of the season.
“Winning would be very important, we play at home and we are favourites. We are preparing it in the right way, I see the team well. We want to show what we have inside.”
He touched on his role as a regista under coach Inzaghi.
“Intelligent players know how to adapt and I think I did well in a role that I already knew anyway, because with my national team I play as a midfielder. Then you can be tall or short, but on the pitch you make the difference if you have the fire inside.
“You have to be bad in duels, intense. In this I think I have improved. Before I was more elegant, light, a classic number 10. I didn’t have the nastiness that I have today.
“Since I changed roles I’m more aggressive and I run a lot, I sacrifice myself. I’ve never been interested in counting goals and assists. I know that many people look at these statistics, but the numbers come if you work well.”
The Turkish midfielder spoke about his happiness with the Nerazzurri and revealed that he wasn’t allowed to ride his motorcycle.
“I’m in love with my Harley, but I don’t use it and it’s sitting in the garage. As soon as I arrived here Piero Ausilio told me: ‘I never want to see you on a motorbike’. The sporting director has not yet called me to negotiate the renewal of my contract, which expires in 2024.
“I want to talk about it, I’m waiting for him to call me. I love Italy, I’d like to stay in Milan even at the end of my career.
“If I hadn’t been a footballer I’ve always liked music, but I think I would have become a policeman, they handle difficult situations, they help others, they do a good job. Football came on its own, when I realised I had talent. Then I put sacrifice and hard work into it.”
Calhanoglu discussed the contract situation of teammate Milan Skriniar.
“I hope he stays, he is a great player and one of the leaders of the team with Handanovic. He will decide with the club, but I hope he stays.”
He gave his thoughts on coach Inzaghi.
“He is one of the people who most wanted me at Inter, he showed he believed in my qualities from day one. He complimented me for the way I replaced Brozovic, I have an excellent relationship with the coach, together we won two cups and only missed out on the Scudetto.”
The 28-year-old spoke about the Champions League and his ambitions in the competition.
“Winning it is one of my dreams, this year I believe in it. I don’t know why, I have a special feeling. We got through a difficult group, we got back up after the defeat against Bayern and showed what we are capable of.
“Porto are a strong team, but if we play like we did against Barcelona we can pass the round.”
Finally, Calhanoglu discussed the upcoming Supercoppa Italiana clash with Milan.
“Finals are special, and we play them with a different spirit. We will go to Riyad to win. I respect Milan, I have a good relationship with Pioli, Maldini and Massara.
“As a gentleman I congratulated them for the Scudetto won last season. Friends have no colours. But for me that’s the past, now I only think of Inter.”