Palacio: "What matters is I’m here now"

MILAN – After the unveiling of the club’s
new apparel at the Nike Stadium, Rodrigo Palacio stepped up on stage
alongside Marco Branca to speak to the press for the first time since
becoming a Nerazzurri player on 7 June.

"It feels great to be here. It’s
the first day and everybody has been really nice to me," the Argentine forward
declared. "But I want to reiterate how much respect I have for the
three years I spent at Genoa. I want to thank the club and the fans – they always made me feel at home."

The figures and trophies he has accumulated
tell the story of a successful career, first in Argentina and then in Italy. So was this the right time for him to join Inter? Palacio
replied, "Yes, I think so, after these three years in Italy.
It’s not easy to come from a different culture and adapt to a
different type of football, but I feel I’m ready to take this sort of

One of Palacio’s new team-mates is Diego Milito, a world-class player and fellow Argentine, but he’s certainly not in awe: "I’m not worried. I know it’s going to be
tough to force my way into the team because there are some top-quality players and strikers here, and I realise that – initially at least – I may be on the bench. But
I’m going to pull out all the stops to try and win a starting shirt."

The new Nerazzurri shirt had just been
unveiled by Nike but Palacio admitted: "I don’t know which number I’ll
wear yet."

He was then asked if he would ever be prepared to swap his braid
for Scudetto success. He grinned, "No, I’m not going to cut it off
but obviously I hope we win the league anyway!"

And on Inter’s title hopes, he added bullishly that he expected
Nerazzurri to compete with AC Milan and Juventus "straight away", explaining: "We have a great group and I think we’ll be in the
mix for the title – up there along with the others."

José Mourinho once said: "Don’t think about Ibrahimovic leaving Italy but players like
Eto’o and Palacio coming to play here." Palacio was asked to comment: "If you’re asking me whether I’m up to it, I don’t know. But if Mourinho said that, it’s definitely nice to hear.
Serie A is still a a top-class league."

What about his new coach? "I’ve only spoken to Stramaccioni once, just after I signed. He greeted me and said he welcomed me with
open arms. What about Zanetti? No I haven’t spoken to him yet but he texted me."

It was then put to Palacio that he has joined Inter a year late,
having been close to signing for the club last summer. "It’s true, I did almost
become a Nerazzurri player last year but it never materialised. But earlier or later – it doesn’t really matter. What counts is that
I’m here now."

Is it easier to win the Scudetto or the Europa League? "Nothing
is easy in modern football. Inter are obviously a great team and
we’ll be looking to battle on all fronts. Hopefully we’ll be celebrating
winning them both come the end of the season."

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