Alcácer is one the best strikers in LaLiga, recently arrived from Borussia Dortmund in January becoming the most expensive transfer in Villarreal history. He is completing a great season, and Villarreal is one of the most in form team since the return of the competition.
Q.- Well Paco, let’s talk about how Paco Álcacer has changed over time, evolving and returning to LaLiga. I don’t know what has changed from that 18 year old kid that has his debut aged 17 in the Copa del Rey and then debuted in LaLiga Santander against Real Sociedad and that is now fully grown in all senses. What has changed?
A.- Well, I believe that I have changed a lot. As any other player, when you start, you are a kid, so to speak, your body is not built as the body of a player, not at all. It is true that as years go by, you have teammates by your side. I was lucky to have teammates of a very high level and I could improve alongside them and look at what they did. I believe that the change as been huge.
Q.-Which teammate or LaLiga player have you looked up to? When you started, who did you look up to Paco?
A.- Well, I was lucky to share in my first few years when I started training at Valencia CF with the famous squad of David Villa, David Silva, Mata… There were great players there and to be honest El Guaje was someone I looked up to, he was my idol as a kid.
Q.- Do you still keep in touch with him?
A.- Well, after when he was at New York City FC, I was lucky to go with him to Valencia CF, but I could not keep in touch that much with him.
Q.- How would you define yourself technically as a player, Paco? If you had to define yourself, we already know your career, but how would you define yourself?
A.- Well, I believe that as a Box player, with good disruptive modes and good association skills in the last few metres are what define me.
Q.- And we talk about strikers, references, but also about an attacker who pays great attention to who will he have in front of him in a game, right? So, who was that centre-back or that defender that has been the toughest you’ve faces? Who is for you a reference as a footballer?
A- There are many players of a high level, but at the end I would choose Sergio Ramos. Because of what he is and what he does and especially who he has been. He is a strong defender, very tough and with the mentality to score goals too. I would always choose him, he’d always be in my team.
Q.- Paco, apart from all that, you have had a brilliant time in Germany, with Borussia Dortmund, where you broke many records, but I don’t know if you had butterflies in your stomach feeling that you wanted to come back to LaLiga. You did it, how eager were you to do here what you were doing so well in Germany?
A.- Well, coming back home was vital after my spell in Germany, because of many complications and many easiness, but I believe that it is something that I always had in mind, I always wanted to come back to Spain and play in LaLiga.
Q.- And coming back to Villarreal, close to your hometown, in a club you had never been before. A new spell, totally different and with the demands to be in Europe. Why did you choose Villarreal CF?
A.- I chose it because I saw the will of the club to have me on board. I believe that it is a great club in which we play a great football. I have great players alongside me and we have beautiful goals to achieve, which I think is a major motivation for me.
Q.- Is this Paco a very different Paco to the one we saw in Germany? I don’t mean in terms of play, because you obviously have to adapt, but the Bundesliga is not LaLiga Santander. Did you find differences that made it tough for you to get used to it, or was it easy for you?
A.- Well, the club has made it very easy for me, all the staff, the board and the teammates. I believe I can’t complain. I have to thank them for the way they introduced me in the team and for the fact that I am here. It is true, as you said, that football is different at Dortmund and at Villarreal CF, but I think this football is also good for the way I play. Together with Gerard Moreno and Carlos Bacca upfront we make up a magnificent attacking line and I believe that we can accomplish all the goals we set with this squad.
Q.- I would like to ask you for the competition there is in this stage of the season in which everyone in the squad is going to be very important. I don’t know if it is because of the 5 substitutions, the physique or the share of time. Given your relationship with your teammates, we can see that they have gotten used to you and we can see that you and Gerard Moreno work really well together.
A.- Gerard Moreno is someone easy to get on with, just like Carlos Bacca, they both have a great quality. Not just because of what they have done now, but what they did in the past. At the end of the day we can see how tough it is holding on for 90 minutes and me, Carlos, Gerard and Fernando Niño will have our moments and we will have to be ready to give something to the team. We saw how Bacca, before everything that happened, was not having many minutes, but he is back now. In Vigo, he came in and revolutionized the game, and he scored the winning goal the other day too. That means that every player is important.
Q: You also did it in your debut and did it again against Athletic. Remind me about that game, because after what has happened and you being in an adaptation stage… But you scored in your debut.
A: Well, I had only been there less than a couple of days, but as easily as I got into the team… I believe that is everything because you have the confidence and they transmit it to you and I think that if you play in a team in which you have never played and do it as I did, it’s something to admire. Not only for me, but for the teammates.
Q: How do you remember that first goal in your return to LaLiga Santander?
A: I remember they made it really easy for me. Manu set a good ball in a one on one against the goalkeeper and I scored. It was a bit uncertain because first the referee disallowed it and then they had to watch it in the VAR, but in the end the most important thing is that the goal was scored and we won the game.
Q: Now there will be games against opponents you know very well, such as FC Barcelona. I imagine there is the excitement of playing those games because you are in LaLiga and you will see them from a different perspective.
A: Yes, it’s true that they are special games for me. Even more the one against Valencia CF. You can see it, and it’s clear that these games will happen to us, but it’s true that you are looking forward to it, it’s a special moment, to play against them and expect it with excitement.
Q: Paco, which has been the best goal you have scored in LaLiga?
A: I believe it was the one in Mestalla against Getafe CF. Cancelo put a cross and I hit it with my left foot before it bounced, it was a complicated one. In LaLiga I would remember that one. And then, in Europa League against Basel I scored when Edu Vargas left me there and the truth is those were nice days. Against Getafe CF we drew, but they were nice.
Q: I’m not sure if you are aware that, when you arrived here, everyone spoke about what Paco Alcácer could bring in terms of success. Is that a pressure or a motivation? Feeling important in a team, in the end, you all are but as the most expensive signing of Villarreal CF, striker, is it?
A: I take this as a recognition for what I have done before and you can see that with the signing, the most expensive of Villarreal’s history. But you mustn’t put yourself more pressure because that may make an influence on the game, in daily life. I try to keep improving my stats and accomplishing goals to make the club accomplish his.
Q: The return of this atypical moment we are living, which nobody imagined, with football back… There’s been some matchdays, and you’ve been working with this protocol for some time now. I imagine you want to finish the season. How do you feel? Which is the thing that calls the most your attention?
A: Well, football now is just a bit surrealistic. But it’s what we have to do, take those measures, those protocols that have been set and try to finish the season in any way. As you said, it was important and we are achieving it because we are doing things well in football and out of it. We have to thank those who make it possible.
Q: Return to be in Europe, Paco? Must this be Villarreal’s goal?
A: Why not dream big?
Q: Now that we mention dreams, which is your dream to accomplish in LaLiga?
A: I believe that the only wish now is to be back playing football as soon as possible. We have done it and now we have to try and accomplish the goals of the team and club. And of course, try to finish with the most goals possible. Next year we know there is a European Championship and we have to work hard to be in it.