Jeremie Boga explains why he rejected Napoli to stay at Sassuolo, considering Chelsea might regret him and targeting Europe with Roberto De Zerbi.
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“It feels great being in second place, although last season Sassuolo already deserved more than to finish eighth, but we were missing something,” Boga told the Gazzetta dello Sport.
“Now we must continue working with focus and enthusiasm. The coach has been telling us for some time that we are strong, he allowed us to realise just what we are capable of. He said our objective is Europe and we are with him all the way.”
De Zerbi also said that the only player he can think of better at dribbling than Boga is Lionel Messi.
“That’s quite a compliment, eh? Having said that, Neymar, Eden Hazard and Hatem Ben Arfa are also excellent at dribbling,” replied Boga.
“It’s about instinct and since I was a kid, I’d just run at opposition defenders. Coaches told me to enjoy myself and I used to practice at home on my brother.”
Boga came up through the Chelsea youth academy and had been on the verge of a transfer to Napoli this summer, although he denies the move was postponed because he contracted COVID-19 on August 20 and didn’t get the all-clear until October 5.
“I was very sad during that time, as I couldn’t do anything, even if I only really felt tired and had back pain for three days. The swabs kept coming back positive.
“The transfer was not blocked by the virus, though. I had already spoken to Sassuolo and we decided together it was best for my development if I stayed here for another year. Sassuolo is a club where you can improve so much, look at Manuel Locatelli and Domenico Berardi playing for Italy now.”
Boga was asked if Chelsea perhaps regretted letting him go so early into his career.
“Who knows… I moved to London with my whole family to play for Chelsea when I was 12 years old. It wasn’t easy at the start, as I left all my friends behind in Marseille, but then I adapted.
“I chose Sassuolo because De Zerbi wanted me. Every day he’d tell me: ‘Do you realise how good you are?’ I wasn’t really convinced.”