Valencia midfielder Geoffrey Kondogbia gave a long interview to the radio station Cadena Ser during which he spoke about his time with the Iberian team thus far and his future. Here are most interesting parts of the dialogue with the reporter, Pedro Morata. Geoffrey is French, has played in Italy but also knows some Spanish so he wanted “to say things right.”
Since the days of Albelda Valencia have not had a great midfielder, as strong and important like you. After years of searching, Valencia has found you now, have you ever been made aware of this before?
“No, I was not made aware. But I’ve had good feelings ever since I arrived here. I think everyone, from the fans to the team are happy with my performances so I want to keep working to improve.”
Are you happy with your performances? Have we seen the best of Kondogbia?
“The results so far have been quite satisfactory but in Football, you can always do better. I work to improve. I think I still can.”
What exactly is the injury cause to your foot?
“A hematoma, a plantar fasciitis. I do not think it is very serious thing so I want to start working towards getting back on the pitch as soon as possible. Will I be ready for this Sunday? I cannot be sure, I have to take some tests to properly understand it.”
Off the pitch you act older than 25 years.
“Perhaps it is because of my size or maybe because I started playing very early. I arrived in Spain at the age of 18-19. So I put all my experience into the game.”
Marecelino called you several times during the Summer. You obviously decided to come to Valencia. What did he say to convince you?
“We had a detailed conversation about Football. I will not go into too much detail but in essence he said he believed he could rely on me to help carry this great project forward. I think belief can be enough for a player, also because I came from a difficult season and needed to regain some confidence and minutes. He promised me this.”
What happened at Inter?
“I think the real problem at Inter is the instability. It was chaos [he used the French term ‘bordello’ which means chaos in this context]. During two seasons I had 4-5 different coaches and so many players would leave and arrive. For this reasons, especially for a young player, I found it very difficult to integrate and put in performances of my usual standard. A club needs stability to move forward even if things do not go to plan at the beginning. The clubs should of kept the players and coaches for a bit longer. Even with a better coach or players, it is difficult for a player to put in a good performance if there is too much change.”
But Valencia was like that before Marcelino arrived.
“Yes, I know, I spoke to the club last season but I decided not to come because I understood that the situation was similar to Inter, so I waited and then I spoke to Mateu Alemany and Marcelino: they guaranteed stability so I knew the time was right.”
You brother told us you had offers from England and France too. Which clubs wanted you?
“It is not important to say. I would only fuel controversy. The important thing now is that I am here and I am happy. I’ve made great friends, who have helped me since day one.”
You are always in the first team at Valencia now, with Parejo Goncalo Guedes and eight others…
“I do not think that is important. At Valencia, everyone is important and we all need to be 100% ready. I am of the opinion that all players in the squad have the same importance and will get opportunities. When other players get subbed or are out injured, the replacement needs to offer the same standard.”
At the start of the season, Valencia would of been happy with fifth place, now we are third and it seems pretty sure but do you think we can stay within Champions League qualification?
“This is life. When you show that you can consistently perform at the top level, the expectations of fans and even family increase. However, the key it only look towards the next game and try to win it. This is what determines what we achieve.”
What differences do you see between Valencia fans and those at Inter or Sevilla?
“I’ve only been here a few months so my interpretation could be wrong. At the moment I have the feeling that the fans have very high demands of the players, which is normal for a club that are acclimatised to winning a lot. But there is a lot of tension between fans and players. The supporters give us strength but they also knock us down. They do not hesitate to support us even when things are not going well and in return they expect us to give absolutely everything.”
Million dollar question: will you be at Valencia next season?
“As I’ve said, today I am very happy at Valencia. When I arrived, everyone helped me, from the players to the staff working here. I adapted quickly so now I have to work to earn this shirt. There is much more work to be done so we will have to wait.”
But do you want to stay? The decision is not all yours, Valencia have to pay 25 million to Inter but what is going through your head?
“I’m happy here. You have your answer.”
In Spain we say that if it is necessary, we should steal the 25 million.
“You’d go down as thieves…Without getting into this, I’m happy to be here. We will see what the budget is like at the end of the season.”
Would you pay the 25 million for Kondogbia?
“If I had the money, then yes. But that’s easy to say when you ask me.”
Which Valencia player surprised you the most with his talent?
“I could not say a name. I knew almost the whole team before arriving. I knew there were great players and when I arrived, it was confirmed.”
Let’s talk about Marcelino, what is he like as a coach?
“The feeling of him that I have is that he is a very demanding coach and this helps you improve. He is also very close to the players, he speaks about life away from Football. Off the pitch you can speak to him about anything.”