Cologne - Brazil international centre-back Dante has been a VfL Wolfsburg player for just over ten days now. The 31-year-old was one of the more high-profile players to switch clubs on the final day of the summer transfer window, opting to join the Wolves on a three-year contract from Bundesliga champions FC Bayern München.
Speaking exclusively to bundesliga.com, the charismatic defender talks about the new challenge facing him at the Volkswagen Arena, his first impressions of life with the Wolves, as well as his personal objectives.
bundesliga.com: Dante, what are your first impressions of VfL Wolfsburg?
Dante: I immediately noticed the professionalism at the club from top to bottom. VfL has a great squad, they were runners-up in the Bundesliga last season and won the DFB Cup. This team is a force to be reckoned with.
bundesliga.com: When you first heard of VfL’s interest, did it take long for you to make up your mind [about joining the club]?
Dante: No, I was immediately impressed by the project at the club. Now I’m determined to use my experience to help us achieve our objectives. Wolfsburg is a club with lofty ambitions.
'We want to defend the DFB Cup'
bundesliga.com: And what are those ambitions exactly?
Dante: In the Bundesliga we want to remain on an even keel with Bayern München for as long as we possibly can and maintain our level of performance from last season. We want to defend the DFB Cup and in the Champions League our aim is to survive the group stage, even if it’s going to be very difficult with the likes of Manchester United, CSKA Moskva and PSV Eindhoven. Personally, I’m aware that competition for places is fierce and that I have to give my all to make sure I'm in the starting line-up.
bundesliga.com: Does that mean you’re aiming to win the Bundesliga this season?
Dante: At Bayern, I learnt what it means to win. It’s obviously not going to be easy to be German champions because FC Bayern have a fantastic squad, but why shouldn’t VfL Wolfsburg be champions? We need to be there or thereabouts in case Bayern start to wobble. We’re capable of [winning the league] this season because we have a very strong squad as well.
bundesliga.com: How come you’re so optimistic?
Dante: The fact that we have an abundance of quality in our squad, along with our fantastic infrastructure. The powers that be are working ever so hard behind the scenes, but they’re also keeping their feet on the ground.
bundesliga.com: In less than two weeks you’ll be back at the Allianz Arena when Wolfsburg take on Bayern on 22 September…
Dante: It’s incredible how quickly things can happen in football. I’ve barely left Munich, but I’m already going back there to play against them with my new team. Honestly, though, I’m already looking forward to the game and will do everything I can to help us get a positive result.
'Luiz Gustavo is like a brother to me'
bundesliga.com: How have you settled in at Wolfsburg?
Dante: Really well! I have to say I’m lucky to have two Brazilians in the team. I’ve played with Luiz Gustavo for the national team and at FC Bayern. Immediately after I’d signed for club I got a text off him wishing me luck. He’s like a brother to me. We get on like a house on fire. We’ve been through a lot together and I hope that we can win many more trophies as team-mates.
bundesliga.com: You’re set to make your first appearance in a Wolfsburg shirt against promoted side Ingolstadt this Saturday. Are you confident of making it three wins out of four in the league?
Dante: I’m confident enough to say that we’re going there to get the three points. But we have to show our opponents the respect they deserve. They’ve started the season very well and pose a serious threat. FCI have nothing to lose. That’s why we have to be careful and not get carried away.
Dante was speaking to Alexis Menuge