Jose Mourinho spoke well of him at Inter, he dropped to Lecce and soon found his way at Bayer Levekusen, who are in the Champions League and currently in second place in the Bundesliga. He always had a great personality and work ethic, which was displayed in the U21 European Championship in 2013. The star took the world by storm, dominating the right flank, he offered attacking fluidity and a hard nosed defensive stance, which Leverkusen took notice of, and submitted a relatively small bid of two million Euros. The bid was accepted, and the 24 year old Italian found his way in Germany.
He was interviewed by CalcioMercato.com recently.
Is it a dream come true to play for Leverkusen, a squad who has so much confidence in you?
“Absolutely. Here everything is great, I’m really happy with the choice I made. Leverkusen brought me to the Champions League, the international stage. My agent Silvio Pagliari advised me to this move, and I am very happy I am here now.”
You’ve started quite well, both individually and as a squad this year, don’t you agree?
“I have to say yes, we started the year with six months of perfection. Now the team is in a slight decline, but it’s also physiological and normal, it happens to everyone. The important thing is to recover as quickly as possible.”
At a technical level, what you are learning in the Bundesliga and the Champions League?
“I am learning a lot. The Champions, of course, is the highest club competition. But the Bundesliga in recent years has grown a lot. Bundesliga has caught the Premier League and other leagues in quality. This is an experience which will help me grow as a player.”
Did you get the chills when you heard the Champions League anthem at Old Trafford on your debut?
“It was an indescribable feeling, a real dream come true. As a child, everyone dreams of Serie A, then when you reach that goal, you ask for more and more. I wanted the Champions League, and I was pleased to be able to start at Old Trafford against Manchester United, I could not even think of a more beautiful debut.”
You have faced many impressive players so far, but who impressed you the most, Ibrahimovic?
“Ibrahimovic is a champion, but PSG is full of champions, just like the Bundesliga. But who impressed me most of all is Franck Ribery, he is a phenomenon.”
Do you think that the Euro Cup helped you propel yourself? Is that where Leverkusen began to admire you?
“It was very important for me. I came off of a bad season in Grosseto, there were a lot of problems for the team, but I knew I had the chance to make the team, so even with relegation, I never stopped training hard in order to reach my goals of making the European Championship team in the best shape possible.”
Who would you thank for your success at the cup?
“Devis Mangia, definitely. He gave me so much confidence, gave me a mental boost. He inspired the whole squad.”
You’ve done quite well, do you think you could go to the World Cup?
“I think it would be very difficult to make this World Cup. As I learned in the Under-21 squad, when there is a group that is already established and working together for several years, it is quite difficult to plug in one new player. So, I think I have a very small chance to go to Brazil.”
The national team is still a goal for you though, right?
“Absolutely! I often think about it, I will need to prove my worth to Bayer first. My head is still focused on Leverkusen, then, when do I do well, I will be able to dream about the Azzurri.”
Do you think that Inter made a good choice selling you?
“The choice Inter made is certainly respectable. Everyone has their own reasons when making decisions.”
Did Mazzarri cause these problems?
“Maybe, with his arrival, he had different ideas and then chose not to focus on their young players like me, Luca Caldirola and, Francesco Bardi. But to tell you the truth, I’m glad that I left: Inter would not have played in the Champions League, so perhaps it is an even better situation for me. Apart from the fact that I left for the UCL, I think that I had a good relationship with everyone involved in Inter. In particular, with Piero Ausilio.”
Now Ausilio became the technical director of Inter!
“Director Ausilio and I have had a good relationship in the past, a relationship of respect and friendship. I arrived at a very young age and he was able to take me in and treat me like a younger brother. He gave me advice on everything from the technicality of football, to everything else in a young boy’s life. And then, when I started to be loaned out, he always helped me to choose the best possible place for me. I will always thank him for the rest of my career.”
Now the new president, Erick Thohir, said he wants a squad based on youth: if Inter wanted you again, how would you react?
“Now there are talks everywhere. My head is dedicated to doing well with Bayer Leverkusen, I don’t need to think about the future right now. I plan to stay here, but, of course, anything can happen.”
Jose Mourinho started you one match on Inter, what do you think about him?
“That period in my career was magical, I can’t even describe the feeling I had. Jose was a great teacher, especially at the moral level. He taught me so much at the technical level and gave me confidence. Then, in the year of the treble, Mourinho rewarded those who listened to him, as well as of those great players who have tried hard in training. For me, it was a very unique experience, beautiful, I will never forget that day because it was a great time in my life.”
Now your head is only thinking about Germany you say, maybe, you will soon see Ciro Immobile or Manolo Gabbiadini: Borussia Dortmund are reportedly on their trails?
“Certainly, I only think about Bayer. Of course though, I want to speak Italian with someone, as Germany isn’t too fond with the Italian language (laughs). I would be delighted if a Bundesliga squad were to get Immobile or Gabbiadini. First of all, they are good friends of mine, so I would enjoy that. It also would be an excellent showcase for them, they’d show everyone their true value, the same thing that happened to me. “
Donati has played 25 matches total this year, and created 1 assist in Champions League. He has played nearly 2000 minutes already, and, obviously, wants to show what he can do.