After scoring in a UEFA Champions League quarter-final win for RB Leipzig in his debut campaign with the club, Dani Olmo says he and his teammates want to do bigger and better things in 2020/21.
Speaking exclusively to bundesliga.com, Leipzig's Spanish international discusses his journey from Spain to the Bundesliga, via Croatia, as well as working under Julian Nagelsmann and how the übertalented young squad at the Red Bull Arena helps to motivate each other...
bundesliga.com: How do you judge the start of the season for Leipzig and for yourself personally?
Dani Olmo: "We're very happy. We're in the next round of the DFB Pokal (Cup) and also, we reached a very important win in the first game against Mainz. It was even more special in front of our fans. It was a special moment to play again with the fans. We're looking forward to it.
Watch: Olmo helped Leipzig to their first Bundesliga win of the season over Mainz!
bundesliga.com: What are you particularly looking forward to in the coming weeks?
Olmo: "We want to keep working as always. Improving as a team and of course, myself as a player every day, every week. This is our goal: to be better every day and keep improving as a team and winning as many games as possible."
bundesliga.com: How do you feel about the comeback of the fans to the stadium?
Olmo: "I enjoy every moment of this comeback to the competition and playing again with the fans so it's totally different and totally better than before. I keep looking forward to it and I hope that soon, we'll have even more fans in the stadiums."
bundesliga.com: How difficult was the changeover for you? What did you have to work on in particular during your first period here? How did you do it?
Olmo: "I've worked a lot. All the players and the staff are helping me in this adaptation, shall we say. Now, I feel really good. Like one more in the team, let's say. I feel really good. I have the feeling my football will become even better now."
bundesliga.com: Did you have to work harder than the others when you came to Leipzig?
Olmo: "When you come into a new team, you always have to show yourself a little bit. Even more, if you come in the winter. Like I said, all the players helped me a lot to be in the team; to be one more player. I feel great. Now, I'm very good with everybody."
bundesliga.com: After all, you're a 3x National Champion, Cup winner and the winner of the Croatian Supercup with Dinamo Zagreb, won the U21 Euros and you played in the Spanish National Team already! What was the best sporting moment you have experienced so far?
Olmo: "I don't know if I can choose one moment. Now, this year, I lived one of the best moments of my life: to reach the semi-final of the Champions League but I also remember I have very good memories of my first game in the Champions League and the Europa League. Of course, the U21 final against Germany that we won. So, I have special moments in my short career as a football player but I think the best moments are still to come."
bundesliga.com: What attracted you most to come to Germany and why did you choose RB Leipzig?
Olmo: "The project they have in the young players and in me personally. The visit that sporting director Markus [Krösche] had with me in Zagreb and the talk I had with the coach - Julian [Nagelsmann] - made me decide that it was the best option for me. I'm very happy to be here. I'll keep working, of course, because that is the only way to keep going and keep growing. I'm very happy!"
bundesliga.com: RB Leipzig is quite a young team with an average squad age of 23.2 and exciting young players such as Christopher Nkunku, Dayot Upamecano and Tyler Adams. Was this part of what attracted you to the team?
Olmo: "Also how the club works with the young players and the competition I will have here in the team makes you better. I think this team can grow a lot more than now because as you said, we have a lot of young players. We can develop ourselves even more."
bundesliga.com: Was coach Julian Nagelsmann a decisive factor in your decision? What makes him so special and what makes him different from your previous coaches?
Olmo: "His way of thinking, his way of seeing the game. This makes him different. We have a good relationship. He has good relationships with all the players. I think that's why we reached what we reached. That's essential: the relationship between the staff and the players. Here, I feel like everything will go in one direction. That's why we're doing good things."
bundesliga.com: How would you describe yourself as a player? What are your strengths and what can you improve?
Olmo: "I think my strength is that I move very well between the lines like a number 10 in this position behind the striker. Also, when I get the ball, I try to find the last pass, the assist or even the shot. I always try to look forward and create something to score or to make the team score. Also, my dribbling in small spaces. I can make good movements in small spaces. I think I can still improve a lot in everything so every day I'm working for it."
bundesliga.com: How did you come to football and how did your parents support you during your time as a youth player?
Olmo: "Yes, a lot! I have a brother. He's two years older. He always played football and I always played with him. My father is a professional coach so, in my family, we always breathe football, as they say! From when I was young, I was always with the ball. All my life was around a ball."
bundesliga.com: The path to professional football from Spain via Croatia, let's say, is unusual. What experiences have you gained here in particular, what do you take from here into your career?
Olmo: "Yes, I improved a lot in Croatia. They gave me the chance to play with the first team at the age of 16. This made me improve a lot as a person and as a football player. I am where I am now also because of this, because of Dinamo and the opportunity they gave to me. This was the goal when I went there: to become a professional football player and to be where I am now."
bundesliga.com: You have signed in Leipzig until 2024. What are your personal plans in the coming years as a footballer?
Olmo: "I'm not really looking too much into the future. I'm looking at the present. Now, in this Bundesliga league and the upcoming matches, of course. What will happen in the future, I don't know. Now, I'm focused on this and this year. We have many good things to reach that we can reach. We have to go looking for it."
bundesliga.com: What makes the Bundesliga so special? How would you rate the football played in Germany?
Olmo: "It's different - Bundesliga to Croatia and Spain and the Spanish league. I think the Bundesliga is more physical and stronger. There are a lot of players with more speed. Maybe the game is faster than in Spain. Spain is more tactical and more possession-based. Here, the players are physically stronger, I think. They also have a lot of quality players like in other leagues. That's why the Bundesliga is one of the best leagues in Europe and in the world. So, I think the Bundesliga is a really good league for young players in terms of developing yourself."
bundesliga.com: What do you particularly like about Leipzig and Germany - and what do you still have to get used to?
Olmo: "I like it. Leipzig is a really calm city. You have everything. I like the centre. There's one lake here, a little bit out of the city. It's really good. I feel at home here. I'm very happy."
Watch: Olmo's best Bundesliga performance came with a brace against Hoffenheim!
bundesliga.com: What does a Spanish guy do in Leipzig when he is not playing football?
Olmo: "When I'm not playing football? No, I'm here. I live 24 hours for football so I try to rest. Sometimes I go out with my teammates. We go for dinner or coffee. Anything. So, when I'm not training or something, I'm probably resting at home. Like normal."
bundesliga.com: What do you want to achieve with the club this season? What is the goal?
Olmo: "We had a really good season last year. Now, our goal this season is to make it even better. We have a really good team. I think we can do very big things again this year but we have to keep improving every day, every week. We go step by step, always. We'll keep improving for sure, every day. That's our goal. To keep going like this and I think good things will come."
Dani Olmo: Leipzig's Spanish star out to emulate Xavi and Iniesta
The 23-year-old is looking to usher in a new era of dominance for both club and country.
Dani Olmo joins Common Goal
Dani Olmo has become first RB Leipzig player, after their coach Julian Nagelsmann, to pledge a proportion of his salary to charity.
Transfers, extensions, returning stars
Mane, Nkunku, Wirtz, Götze… the new Bundesliga campaign is shaping up nicely as clubs attract and keep the biggest stars in the game.