Gelsenkirchen - Kevin-Prince Boateng could not hide his delight at being "back home" when he was officially unveiled as an FC Schalke 04 player on Friday.
"Best league in the world"
The 26-year-old joined the Royal Blues from Italian giants AC Milan on a four-year deal and made his debut for the club in Saturday evening’s encounter with Bayer 04 Leverkusen. The Ghanaian international is over the moon to be back in the Bundesliga.
“I’m at home at last,” he said. “I’ve always said I wanted to play in Germany again and it makes me very happy to be able to run out for such a top club as Schalke 04. For me, the Bundesliga is the best league in the world with lots of young players and I want to play in this league. I want to bring in my strengths and help the less experienced players.”
Boateng also hinted that Schalke’s qualification for Europe's premier club competition in midweek may have been a contributing factor in his decision to join the club. “Schalke are a top club, who are also in the Champions League," he said. "It’s a new challenge for me and I can continue my development here. I like working with young coaches such as Jens Keller - it was simply a perfect fit. I’m really looking forward to it.”
The much-travelled midfielder is known for a somewhat combative approach on the pitch and was actually sent off while playing for Borussia Dortmund in his last Bundesliga appearance. Boateng, however, was quick to defend his aggressive style. “Aggression is an integral part of the game," he explained. "You shouldn't go overboard, but it really is important. You don't want the other team thinking they can go out on the pitch and take all three points just like that.”
Boateng had a brief loan spell with Dortmund during the second half of the 2008/09 season. Ahead of the Yellow-Blacks' match on Sunday, Jürgen Klopp joked with assembled reporters that he could not believe Boateng had joined BVB’s closest rivals. “He didn’t reply to my texts,” he said. “I sent him a text saying “Schalke?” with eight question marks, but I didn’t hear back from him.”