Inter midfielder Nicolo Barella claims he rejected more lucrative offers to join “a team with so many champions.”
The Italy international left his beloved Cagliari over the summer, but he admits the feeling of walking into San Siro was part of the “challenge” he was seeking.
“I’m in a team with so many champions, everyone wants to get into the team,” he told DAZN. “I’m glad that I have been able to prove what I’m worth.
“I had dreams that slowly turned into objectives - becoming a footballer, my debut in Serie A with Cagliari, playing 100 matches for them.
“I wanted to play in a great team and now I’m here. As for the national team, I didn’t really think that big.
“Football is a passion for me, rather than a job. The more challenging it is, the better I will become.
“It’s a great feeling to enter San Siro, as well as feeling the passion from the fans who are singing your name.
The 22-year-old scored his first Serie A goal for Inter in the 2-1 win against Hellas Verona, but that was already his second for the club, having netted in the 1-1 draw with Slavia Prague.
“I like to hear the roar even when I’m winning the ball back, but the goal [against] Verona was something I had been waiting for because the goal in the Champions League, I couldn’t really celebrate.
“I don’t remember what Conte told me, maybe he smiled and told me some bad words at the end of the game. I was celebrating with my teammates.
“I went to Lautaro [Martinez] before I saw the coach, he wanted to give me his jacket because I didn’t have one. It was nice.”
Barella’s decision to leave his native Sardinia saddened Cagliari fans, but he assured them it was a measured one, signing for the Beneamata.
“I’m still improving. To leave home was a big step. At the start it wasn’t difficult, but it was complicated.
“They told me so many things when I said goodbye to Cagliari. I had a very good relationship with them there, and with some of them that are still there.
“Maybe someone’s upset that I left, but that’s football and the market we operate in. Things are always happening between clubs and agents.
“I rejected offers where I would have earned more money, maybe people don’t really know this.
“I know who I am and why I went to Inter. It was because I wanted to grow. We’ve got one of the best coaches in the world and champions in the team, who are here to build something important.”
Inter are currently second in Serie A, one point behind reigning champions Juventus, but the starlet is not looking at the table just yet.
“It’s not the time to look at the table. We have to continue on our path and always look to do better. We will see where we are at the end of the year.”
Watch Serie A live in the UK on Premier Sports for just £9.99 per month including live LaLiga, Eredivisie, Scottish Cup Football and more. Visit: https://www.premiersports.com/subscribenow