One of the driving forces behind Real Madrid’s efforts was your desire to join this project.
I wasn’t sure if signing for Real Madrid would happen, but I was pretty confident. A made the decision to leave some time ago and there was no better club to sign for. I need to thank Real Madrid for their confidence in me, and this is the outcome I wanted. I am very happy.
Very hasty. It all happened so fast and I didn’t have time to say goodbye properly. I will return to bid farewell as soon as I have a chance. I am very grateful to everyone. There will be time for a proper goodbye.
A lot has been said about your deteriorating relationship with Rafa Benitez.
I know a lot has been said, but there is mutual respect between us and professionalism. We have a cordial relationship.
Will you have to chance your style of football to adapt to Real Madrid?
Real Madrid and Liverpool obviously play differently, but I always try to maintain the same characteristics. I hope to contribute my very best. I am looking forward to participating and to becoming involved with the team.
How did your new teammates welcome you to your first training session?
I arrived a little late and they welcomed me with an applause. I talked to everyone. I will start to get to know them all better with time. I don’t think I will have any trouble adapting because I never have had any.
You almost signed for Real Madrid five years ago.
And five years later I am now a part of this club. This is the start of a new phase and there are high expectations and a lot of responsibility. I think great things will come out of this project.
You may make your Real Madrid debut in Anoeta Stadium.
I am hoping for a warm welcome. It is my home and I have always been treated kindly.
What did your time at Liverpool teach you?
I matured a lot during my five years in Liverpool. I grew as a player, played in the Champions League, won finals… The affection I left with and the many great nights I experienced… I know have more experience and want to do as best I can.
Did you have to do anything special to process for your transfer to be processed?
Informing the Federation wasn’t necessary. There is a formal process by which you put in a transfer request. The method by which my transfer took place doesn’t matter. What is important is that the operation was carried out.
When and how did you tell Liverpool that you wanted to leave?
I spoke to Rafa on several occasions last season, during the preseason and this summer. We knew there was a possibility so I immediately expressed my desire to return to Spanish football. In fact, when the season ended I spent several days training in Liverpool and I sat down with Rafa for two hours. We shared ideas and I told him I needed a change.
Do you feel pressure having to distribute balls to players like Kaka and Cristiano Ronaldo?
The simple fact of playing for Real Madrid entails pressure that you must accept. I am up for the challenge. I know expectations are high for this project. I wil try to contribute with the same way I have always played in the midfield: by offering solutions to my teammates, directing the game… Everything I know how to do.
What are your thoughts on this project?
I think it is a very exciting project that has laid important groundwork. There were already good players here and new players who will contribute new things have arrived. Hopefully this compact mix of players can offer dazzling football, which is always the best recipe for success.
Is there anything you want to say to Liverpool fans?
I am very grateful to Liverpool fans who made my five years there fantastic. They must understand, though, that this opportunity came up and it was the best option for me.
Do you know why Benitez wasn’t giving you much playing time this preseason?
I don’t know, but I don’t have an opinion on the matter. Rafa has his reasons and I respect him. He wanted to try other people, so I understand.
You are the icing on the cake in making this team more Spanish.
Making the team more Spanish is a good thing. Many years ago there was a great mix of Spaniards and foreigners and it worked to perfection. Now there are several national team players here; people who know one another. There are players who are the perfect age and have proven how good they are. It is a great mix that hopefully works well.