EXCLUSIVE - Carlo NICOLINI: "De Zerbi-Shakhtar: the idea originated in December, I'll tell you why he opted for Ukraine. Italian football will regret letting him go. We like Marlon, on our transfer market goals..."

27.05.2021 10:30 of desk TransferMarketWeb   see readings
Source: interview by Mirko Di Natale
EXCLUSIVE - Carlo NICOLINI: "De Zerbi-Shakhtar: the idea originated in December, I'll tell you why he opted for Ukraine. Italian football will regret letting him go. We like Marlon, on our transfer market goals..."

TransfermarketWeb  descibed the final stages of the negotiation that led Roberto De Zerbi to Shakhtar Donetsk carefully and in great detail. The Deus ex Machina of the operation is Carlo Nicolini, who has been with the Ukrainian club for years, as second to Mircea Lucescu at first and now as assistant to the sporting director Darijo Srna, who is always on the front lines to do the good of the Pitmen (the miners). Carlo unveiled the details and background of the De Zerbi deal on TransfermarketWeb.

Can you explain to us why De Zerbi chose Shakhtar?

"Roberto chose Shakhtar for the project and our game philosophy, and not for a financial reason. What came out in the newspapers is not true, he chose us for our plan first and foremost. This is the first thing I want to clarify. Right from the start, the two sides had the same idea and the same vision, therefore it was not hard to find an agreement. As he said, our goal will be to win through a beautiful game. In terms of the media we did a huge thing, because one of the up and coming names in Europe that was on every sporting director list thanks to his innovative brand of football chose to come here."

When did the idea of trying to ​​convince him to accept Shakhtar come about?

"Honestly it is difficult to give a precise time, he and I have been in touch for a long time and we have always confronted each other about our clubs. He is a great connoisseur of football, he has always asked me about Shakhtar. The idea originated in December, when I had the absolute certainty that Roberto wanted to try a new experience in a top club. In spite of what some naive people say in Italy, Shakhtar is a top club. We always moved with respect of all parties involved, we decided to wait until he finished league play with Sassuolo. Our intent was never to obstruct or force the situation with the Italian club."

Background of the background: De Zerbi was already asking for information on Shakhtar?

"Yes, absolutely. Roberto’s interest in Shakhtar is not recent, he’s been asking me about the league, the club and the players for a while. I have known him for over thirty years, I was his first coach and I have always followed his career. When his name was mentioned, the top brass agreed. Srna, having played in Italy, knew him, so he was sure about him. After the first few contacts, he told us he was open to coming to us . The negotiation went through in an exemplary manner."

It is surprising that he signed a two-year contract, why isn’t the contract longer?

"Because I think it is the right and necessary time for the kind of project we have thought of together. Nobody has set any constraints: if Roberto is comfortable enough with us, the contract can be easily renewed."

Do you think Italian football will regret losing a top manager like him?

"It is a regret for Italian football, but beyond this he stands firm with his choice. The club will try to support his work and satisfy his requests functional to our philosophy; for part, he will try to help our young players grow. It will be the perfect way to be competitive in European football."

Shakhtar continues the Made in Italy tradition: Scala, Lucarelli, Nicolini and now De Zerbi.

"Italian football, abroad, is still lokeed at as one of the top brands in Europe, Shakhtar is in fact proud to have managed to hire an Italian coach with these characteristics. Just as Roberto appreciated not only the respect and trust we have for him, but also the fact that an international top club had him as their first choice. It is a deliberate choice of analysis, knowledge, contacts and we are convinced that we acquired a top manager."

Shakhtar have been linked with many Sassuolo players, can you give us some clarity?

"The truth is that Shakhtar had already planned on two or three transfers. Roberto told us that we have an excellent base, he suggested some names that are functional to his game while still within our philosophy. The interesting thing is that he wants to strengthen some specific areas. He is not here to suggest expensive players, our goal are a mix of young and experienced guys with a reasonable price. He asked for one or two Sassuolo players, after all he really appreciates the guys who he helped grow over there."

Are the players he requested the same ones that appeared in the newspapers, namely Locatelli, Berardi, Marlon?

"I can't name any names, but what I can say is that they are not Locatelli and Berardi because we already have top players in those roles and therefore it wouldn’t make sense to invest there. The ones that came out in the newspapers are for the most part inaccurate. The only one we could be interested in is Marlon, because the coach likes him a lot. But Shakhtar doesn't buy just to buy, the players we will evaluate will be in line with our ideas and our philosophy. Surely our goal will be to buy players coming out of Italy as well, not only ones from Brazil. Roberto did not come here to demand certain players, he’s shown that he is very open to a dialogue and exchange of ideas."