Moussa Diaby has quickly taken to life in the Bundesliga after his arrival at Bayer Leverkusen from Paris-Saint Germain in the summer of 2019.
The 21-year-old winger sits down with bundesliga.com to discuss why the Bundesliga is the perfect league for a player like him, training his speed at Leverkusen and his hopes of reaching France's squad for next summer's European Championships.
Moussa Diaby: "It was a funny moment, but these things happen. That sort of thing can happen to all good goalkeepers. We don't blame him. As I said, that can happen to lots of goalkeepers and indeed it has happened to lots of goalkeepers. We don't blame him at all. We know that he's a very good goalkeeper and that he brings a lot to the team."
Watch: Highlights of Leverkusen's win at Bielefeld
bundesliga.com: Did you see what happened?
Diaby: "I think the ball changed direction just before he went to clear it. It touched his left boot. Unfortunately, it went into the goal. But it wasn't a problem, it didn't cause us any difficulties as we were able to win the game."
bundesliga.com: What did Lukas say in the dressing room after the game?
Diaby: "We all laughed. He apologised, he acknowledged that he had made a mistake. But we won the match - that's the most important thing."
bundesliga.com: Did you tease him at all?
Diaby: "No, not really. The coach did a bit but not the players."
bundesliga.com: You have scored once so far this season - against Augsburg. How good was it to get off the mark with one of the strangest goals of the season so far?
Diaby: "Yes, I scored against Augsburg. It's been a little while since I last scored. It was also a somewhat humorous goal too. It was the last attack of the game. It did me good to score, I'm very happy as it helped the team get the win."
bundesliga.com: Nadiem Amiri had a five-metre head start on you to chase the ball down for the goal, didn't he?
Diaby: "He knew that he had no chance of getting to the ball first. We laughed about it after the game, we still laugh about it now. He knew that he wouldn't get to the ball - I'm a little bit faster than him. That's normal."
bundesliga.com: Do you work on your speed as a player or is it something you have always had?
Diaby: "I think it's innate, but also something that you have to work on. I'm not working on it that much right now because we have a lot of matches. But it's something I work on in training here normally. You have to work on it in order to improve as a player across all competitions."
Watch: Highlights of Leverkusen's win over Augsburg, including Diaby's late goal!
bundesliga.com: Five Bundesliga wins in a row, nine games unbeaten, what are the reasons behind this impressive run for Leverkusen?
Diaby: "I think we've had a good start to the season, even though we failed to win any of our first three games. We didn't win these games, but we didn't lose them either, which is positive. We've been working hard every day with the coach and with the staff on improving our performances. The players, too, are giving their all to put in good performances. We know that the beginning of the season is very important in ensuring you can reach your objectives for the season. We've had lots of games so the coach has looked to rotate the team too. In order to allow players to rest and also to ensure we keep winning matches."
bundesliga.com: How pleased are you with your season so far from a personal point of view?
Diaby: "I don't think there's much to say about my individual performances. They'll get better and better over time. I'm happy, I'm giving my all to help the team. I'm always focussed on helping the team and on giving 100 percent. It's going well at the moment and I hope to give even more and to improve my stats, in order to help the team and my teammates."
bundesliga.com: You have delivered the most crosses of any Bundesliga player this season but are yet to register an assist. How can you improve in that area?
Diaby: "It's true that in my position you have to know how to deliver good crosses and how to play the last pass. We practice this a lot in training. It's harder to score in this manner in matches. But I think if we continue playing like we are now, and continue to work hard in training, we'll score goals in this way. The attackers will be very happy with the balls I put into the box."
bundesliga.com: Why is Lucas Alario having such a good season so far?
Diaby: "Lucas has seven goals, I think. That's very good. He's helping the team a lot. He has helped us get out of difficult situations in matches with his goals. It's good for him and his own confidence, and for the team too. He works hard every day in training on his finishing. As a striker, if you're working hard in training and scoring in matches, it's even better for you and for the team as well. He's improving his numbers all the time. If he keeps playing like he is now, we'll go far as a team."
bundesliga.com: Along with Patrik Schick, you have two strikers who are both very good with their head...
Diaby: "Yes, Patrik is also a very good player. He's athletic, he's good with his head. He was injured but is returning now. We'll need him too. As I said, the matches are coming thick and fast, so I don't think Lucas will be able to play every game. Patrik can play and I'm sure he'll do a good job."
bundesliga.com: You settled in very quickly in Leverkusen. How did you manage to do so?
Diaby: "It's true that I settled in very quickly at Bayer. I can't tell you that it was always easy at the beginning. When you come from another country and you speak a different language, it's not easy. But it's going well now. I'm happy, it's a good club and everyone has welcomed me here. I'm here to work hard and to help the club achieve their objectives."
bundesliga.com: Are your strengths well suited to the Bundesliga?
Diaby: "Yes, I'm well suited to the Bundesliga. It's a league with a lot of good teams, who play good football and always look to attack. We also have an attacking philosophy at Bayer. So, it's great for an attacker like myself. I like high-intensity games with lots of chances and lots of space. I'm very happy playing here."
bundesliga.com: You have had a good start to the season, also in Europe. What are your aims for the season?
Diaby: "The long term looks good because we have a good group of players, with a good coach and coaching staff. Everyone gets on very well. As I said, if you work hard in training on a daily basis, you can recreate this in games. That'll help us a lot and we hope to continue in the same way. Our objectives remain the same - to go as far as possible in all competitions."
bundesliga.com: Do you enjoy being part of this team?
Diaby: "Yes, I enjoy being part of this team. They helped me to settle very quickly. The players speak lots of languages here - French, English, German. I've integrated myself well, I'm not someone who stays on the periphery, I'm close to all the players. I'm very happy to be here, I have adapted very well and I hope it continues."
bundesliga.com: Since your arrival here, how have you improved as a player?
Diaby: "In terms of physicality, I think I've progressed a lot. We train at a high level of intensity. In order to play in the Bundesliga, you need a minimum level of cardio fitness. I think I've improved in this area since my arrival. And also in terms of my technical ability. You can always get better, but I think I've been making progress in this area. I hope to improve in other areas too because there are always things you can work on."
bundesliga.com: Do you like German football?
Diaby: "Yes, I like it very much. I'm very happy. As I said, the German championship is very good and there are lots of good teams. And very good players too."
bundesliga.com: Do you think you can find more space in games than in France?
Diaby: "Honestly, it depends on the game. And it depends on the team you're playing against as well as on the phase that team is going through - whether they're playing well or not. It depends on the match. I wouldn't say there is more space here than in France because it truly depends on the game."
bundesliga.com: You can play on the left and on the right. Which position do you prefer?
Diaby: "I play where the coach tells me to play. I have no preference. Whether I play on the left or on the right, I give my all to help the team. I don't have a preference."
bundesliga.com: Do you think you have a chance of making the French squad for next summer's European Championships?
Diaby: "I can't tell you that, but it's always in my head. Just like all French players who hope to be included. I just try to play well and to focus on getting into the first team. It'll happen when it's meant to happen. You can't rush it, but of course I think about it. I work hard every day with that ambition."
bundesliga.com: Is it difficult for young players to establish themselves at Paris-Saint Germain?
Diaby: "No, I wouldn't say it's hard. PSG are a club that develop young players well. Even though not all youth players make it to the first team. It's impossible to play every single youth player in the first team. That's the case at every club. That's how it is. That's life. I hope PSG will continue to do big things and produce good players. Even if they don't make it into the PSG first team, they'll make it into the first team of another club. They coach a good style of football at PSG."
bundesliga.com: What is it like being a father?
Diaby: "It's good. It's my first child. I'm happy, my wife is happy, my family are happy. It's pure happiness having a child - taking care of him, playing with him. Honestly, it's incredible."
bundesliga.com: Are you able to sleep well?
Diaby: "Honestly, I sleep very well. I don't have many problems with that."
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