Nigel De Jong is looking forward to his first Milan derby tonight. “I am a winner and I always want to win. It’s my mentality.”
The former Manchester City midfielder arrived in the final days of the transfer session and has quickly become a key figure at San Siro.
“I am a winner and I always want to win. It’s my mentality and is about more than words,” he told the Corriere dello Sport.
“I do talk a lot on the field with my teammates, but they are clear and simple ideas, because football is a universal language. I am learning Italian and can understand almost everything if they speak slowly, but another two months and I’ll be fine.
“Where can we win the derby? In midfield, like with every big game. Usually if you take control in the middle of the park, then you can have the better of the match.”
The Rossoneri have stuttered this season and are behind Inter in the Serie A table, although there was a boost with their 3-2 Champions League win at Zenit.
“I think fundamentally our problems revolved around a lack of experience,” continued De Jong.
“This is a very young side and many players were on the bench last season only to be promoted to the first team. It is never easy to change your perspective at a club like Milan.
“We lost to Sampdoria and Atalanta, but with all due respect, I think the only difference between us in those games was experience and cynicism. We’re a new group and are improving game by game.”
Massimiliano Allegri has been under pressure from the media since pre-season, but De Jong assures Serie A is no different to anywhere else.
“I had four Coaches at Ajax, while at Man City they were constantly spreading rumours about a new manager. It is in the interests of the papers to feed those reports, but at the end of the day the club makes the decisions. They say Allegri is our Coach, so he is and we are with him.
“The truth is people forget things so quickly, like the fact Allegri won the Scudetto at his first attempt.
“As for the squad, there is a lot less quality than last season, but I still see great potential. The important thing is that we all have in our minds the desire to get Milan back to where they belong and the willingness to sacrifice for each other.
“Stephan El Shaarawy is not even 20 yet and that is his greatest gift. He doesn’t think, he just goes for it. I hope he continues like this, for him and for Milan.”