Rafinha: 'I have adapted well'
Arriving right at the end of the transfer window, the Paris Saint-Germain midfielder looks back at his first steps with the club from the capital and his debut in Rouge et Bleu.
Rafinha, how has your integration into the squad been going?
"The atmosphere inside the dressing room is very good, with players who have known each other for many years. I have adapted well in these first days and weeks, which have been very nice because my new teammates have welcomed me excellently. Everything happened very quickly, and I have to thank the players and the coach for explaining how the club works in these first few weeks."
You were quickly called into action with that first match against Nîmes…
"When I saw that the players were coming back from their national teams on the Wednesday or Thursday and that the match was on Friday, I knew that the coach would probably need to rely on players who hadn't been off on international duty. I was ready and I was able to start the match. I really wanted to be back playing, especially because I wasn't able to take part in pre-season with Barcelona because I wanted to leave. So it was my first match in a while and I was full of motivation. The team played in a system that I know and so adapting wasn't very difficult."
You are quite used to the 4-3-3…
"It's a system that I know well! I grew up playing in a 4-3-3, I know the movement that you need to make when playing in this system. So I was able to adapt more easily. When I move into the space, a teammate covers in, you need to communicate well. It's important when you play in midfield in this formation. We just need a little bit of time to adapt and get to know each other. With good communication, everything becomes a lot easier."
How did it feel as you picked up your first assist for Paris Saint-Germain?
"I remember that when Keylor Navas got the ball, he came out to launch a quick counter-attack. I was on my own and I knew that if the pass was in front of me, I would be through on the defence, and that Kylian Mbappé was to my left, with his pace. The only thing I was thinking is to find him deep, because I knew that he would be in on the keeper. I saw the space and giving him the ball was very easy because he is so quick. It was what was needed in order to be through on goal."
Before Kylian Mbappé's goal against Nîmes, you were on the receiving end of a heavy tackle at the start of the match...
"Physically, I felt good during the match. After half-time, when I came back cold, it hurt a lot. My hip had tightened because of the knock, but these are things that happen in football. I was happy with this first outing after such a long time without playing. I was also very happy with the win."
The team is now into a run of two matches per week.…
"I think it's always best to play every three days because if you lose, you have the chance to leave the pitch with the desire to win the next match. Starting the next match thinking that we are going to win it is very important, and getting the win even more so. On one hand, the season has just begun and there are lots of games ahead of us, and on the other hand, we know that it's important for us to win the next match."