Doha - With FC Schalke 04 sporting director Horst Heldt referring to Matija Nastasic as a “complete player” upon his arrival on loan from Manchester City FC, there’s no doubting that the Royal Blues’ marquee winter signing has a lot to live up to.
For the time being, though, the Serbian centre-back’s priority remains settling into his new side as quickly as possible with the aim of earning himself a regular first-team berth under Roberto Di Matteo. Giving his first full interview on schalke04.de from the club's winter training camp in Doha, Qatar, the 21-year-old opened up about what he learned during his time with the reigning Premier League champions, his potential role at Schalke and his aims for the second half of the 2014/15 campaign.
Question: Matija Nastasic, welcome to Schalke. How have your first few days at the training camp been?
Nastasic: I’ve only been in Doha for two days. I completed my medical on Wednesday and then trained with the team for the first time shortly afterwards. Everything went really well and the squad have been very welcoming. I’m delighted to be here.
Question: How did your move from Manchester City come about?
Nastasic: We met twice for formal discussions at the end of last year. Roberto Di Matteo talked to me about his expectations for the team and explained that he really wanted me to be a part of the side. I did have other offers, but it quickly became clear that I wanted to join Schalke. The Bundesliga is one of the best leagues in Europe and is constantly getting stronger, and Schalke are a big and popular club. I’m convinced that this was a good decision.
Question: What have you taken from your time in England?
Nastasic: I gained a lot of experience in England that I now want to put to good use with Schalke. The last six months have been a challenge because I was never played. Before that, though, I had been enjoying a good and successful time in Manchester, and I learned a lot from that.
Question: What were the reasons behind you not featuring for Manchester City of late?
Nastasic: Basically, it was just the head coach’s decision. I'd been fully fit and training as per usual with the first team over the last six months. In terms of my fitness everything was great. I wasn’t having any problems and because of that I'm ready to immediately help Schalke.
Question: What do know about your new club and the team?
Nastasic: Schalke are one of the biggest clubs in Germany with an unbelievable number of fans and a super stadium. I’m really looking forward to that. I also know a lot about the team because I follow all the big leagues. After my talks with Roberto Di Matteo I spent a lot of time closely watching footage of their games.
Question: Have you already talked to Roberto Di Matteo about Schalke’s style of play?
Nastasic: The coach told me which position he’s planning to use me in. We can operate with a three-man but also a four-man backline if needs be. That’s not a problem for me. I’ll be comfortable in both formations.
Question: What targets have you set yourself for the second half of the season?
Nastasic: I want to play in as many matches as possible and help the club reach their season aims. I’m hoping that we’ll pick up more points than we did in the first half of the season, and we definitely want to qualify for the UEFA Champions League. I also think it’s still possible for us to finish in second or third.