Spanish midfielder Rodrigo Hernandez is happy to be back at Atletico Madrid, having come in from Villarreal earlier this summer for a fee believed to be in the region of €20m.
The 22-year-old, who began his career as an 11-year-old with the Rojiblancos, was let go by the club after two years for being too small and was thought to be lacking the requisite physical strength.
His time at Villarreal, however, saw him blossom into a talented player of whom Atletico again took notice. They’ve since signed him to a five-year contract, and the player is now keen on improving and forcing his way into the side.
“I’m still very young, I have a lot to learn on the path that is football and we will go step by step,” he said in an interview with MARCA.
“I’ve only just arrived in the world of professional football and everyone likes to compare you to these players, but I’ve got my feet on the ground all the time and I’m going step by step, although I know that I can offer a lot and have room to improve.”
“Yes, but wherever you go there are great players,” he replied after being asked about the competition he will be facing for a place in midfield. “I know these guys you’ve mentioned and they’re brilliant. In the end, it’s one of the best clubs in the world and as I want to play with the best, I have to fight for a place with the best.”
“Now I am coming to a club with rigorous tactics and maybe I should improve on that, in some aspects without the ball, in understanding the game management. Also it’s true that I haven’t played games at an elite level and when I do I will have to learn to handle that, it won’t be easy, I have to keep learning and listen to what the coach tells me. “
The player was also quizzed over his getting released by the club as a youth player and admitted that he was a late bloomer who did not develop as quickly as his teammates.
“The truth is that I developed late and at that age [when he left] I hadn’t developed, although it influenced people a lot,” he explained.
“I hadn’t developed like the rest of my team-mates and knew I had to wait a bit longer. In some ways I didn’t go just because of that, but now I am 1.90m tall so that’s the physique I have.”