Sassuolo captain Francesco Magnanelli rates Roberto De Zerbi as one of the best coaches in Europe and explained to Football Italia what he requires from his midfielders.
Speaking in an exclusive interview, the 36-year-old Magnanelli said that being almost the same age as the 41-year-old De Zerbi, who has helped the Neroverdi into second place in the Serie A table after eight weeks of the campaign, works to Sassuolo’s benefit.
“We are smart people and I think being a similar age could be an advantage for us,” Magnanelli said, having also discussed his early days at the club, admitting he had doubts about signing for Sassuolo some 15 years ago.
“I believe that when he arrived he had a different opinion about me. As a player, not as a person. Convincing him and being appreciated by him is a great achievement for me.
“I really respect him. He knows what I can give, my mentality and what I can give to the team. As for me, I am lucky to work with one of the best coaches in Europe right now.”
Magnanelli added that even as he enters the final years of his career, De Zerbi’s influence has made him a better player.
“I found the right manager at this age. I managed to improve myself and discover new things,” he continued.
“He has put me in the right conditions to play at high levels. He’s made me understood I can play in a two-man midfield even if I had always played in a three-man midfield. There is a meticulous job behind it. He wants to keep the ball possession, have fluidity, but with clear ideas. We don’t run around the pitch without a target.
“He is scrupulous. We want to have fun on the pitch but everything we do on the pitch has a reason for it. Those who say we only keep a sterile ball possession are wrong. That ball possession has a specific target. I could spend hours taking about it.”