Lhe week has been especially peaceful for fans of the Spanish. The victory against Celtic In the last breath I left the permanence almost tied and the parakeets can now be calm. A lot of blame for the fact that the Catalans do well this course is Sergi Darder (Art, 1993). The Mallorcan is sweet. He has regained his smile and is displaying his best football. So much so that he has entered the radar of Luis Enrique.
Ask. Right now you are the man in fashion at Espanyol…
Response. Well, what happens is that statistics are deceiving. It seems that you only play well when you score goals or give assists. It seems that the passes he used to give have now ended in a goal.
Q. How do you explain giving so many assists (9)?
R. There are several things. I have more confidence and less fear of losing the ball. When you risk more, there are more chances that the pass will be a goal. Before I played easier and now I have confidence and I have people up there who make it easier.
P. And how have you done to gain confidence?
A. The relegation season hit rock bottom and I didn’t trust myself. From that day on I had to go upstairs, with the help of classmates, the coach, an expert… he made me understand that in life you have to fail.
Without a doubt, I am in the best moment of my career
Q. Would you say you are at your best?
A. Without a doubt. When you are young, you have the illusion of getting to do many things. The moments are different. When you debut, you want to take on the world, but I think now I’m at the ideal age physically and mentally.
Q. What does Darder dream of at this point in his life?
R. With enjoying after having had a relatively bad time. I think about enjoying when I play. When you enjoy, things go better. When you suffer, you can do well for several games, but in the end it shows.
P. He is not the first footballer I have heard about not enjoying…
R. It happened to me. When I was young I did. More than anything, he really wanted to play. Then I went through a spell where I suffered playing. The fear of what they would say. to failure. To have your place taken away. Now I try to enjoy.
Q. What role have your teammates and coach played in getting you back to enjoying football?
R. The coach was the first to put me in my position after several years without playing in my place. That helps you. You can already have a coach or a psychologist, who if they don’t put you in your place and don’t let you do what you know how to do, you’re going to have a hard time. I will always be grateful to the master. Also to the companions. In tennis you can do more things by yourself, but in football, without partners… I am grateful to my partners.
I have always seen the issue of the selection quite far away, but I am excited
P. It’s so good, it sounds like it’s for the national team (it entered Luis Enrique’s last pre-list). How’s that?
A. Very calmly. As a child he had it worse, when he sounded for a team or there was talk of contract renewal. I’ve always seen the issue of selection as far away, perhaps mistakenly. I am not aware of it, I am cautious and in my interior perhaps I see it far away. I am super happy and proud to have entered the pre-list. I am aware of the competition that exists.
Q. Is it a goal?
R. I have never worn it as a thing that keeps me awake at night. I have always seen it as a thing for other players, something that did not go with me. It has been an illusion since debut. You always have dreams, you set goals. Mine was not to play in the national team or in the Champions League, but to play in the First Division. But once you’re there, you think about playing in the Champions League, about playing in the Europa League. And since we’re there…
Q. Can the permanence be considered closed?
R. It is ugly to say yes because mathematically we are not saved, but I think we can say yes. Not because I don’t think the lower teams can’t make it, but because I think we can score more points. The objective in these matches that remain until the end, should be to climb the rankings and win the maximum number of matches possible.
P. Now, without that pressure to fight for permanence, what can you expect from Espanyol?
R. I think we have to compete the same as we have done in the last few games. Surely, being virtually saved, as you say, without that relegation pressure, we have to play more liberated and be more courageous. It’s time to be daring and show that the club is growing and that the players are better than eight months ago and we have seven beautiful games to enjoy them.
P. And what games! A tough schedule awaits them.
RS I think now without pressure, we can do well. Against Champions teams we have been better than with those below. Especially away from home. And at home, we have shown that we are strong against everyone. I think we have a very difficult calendar, but at home we are strong and away we compete well against the greats. I want to see the positive part and think that it can be a good end to the season.
I see it as complicated to get into Europe. I doubt that those above lose so many points
P. They look like to get into Europe?
R. Let’s see, I would like to say yes, but I see it as complicated. Not because we don’t make points, but because those who are up there now are the ones who were thought to be there at the beginning of the season. We’ll try, but I don’t think the top guys will lose enough points to hook us. I hope it happens, because we will try to win them all.
R. For now, they play Atlético de Madrid this weekend.
R. A game that I have loved playing for a long time. Especially in the new field.
Q. And that? What games do you like to play the most?
R. The one from Mallorca, because it is going to play against my family. The one from Bara, for being the derby. And the one from Atleti, because when I was little I was from Atleti.
Q. Oh yeah?
A. Until he was 13 he was from Atleti. Then I signed for Espanyol and put fanaticism aside. As a child he was from Atleti. I remember going to see him with my father at the bar. But the most special game for me is the one against Mallorca. Having 20 to 30 family members and friends there is something that makes me very excited. Also the derby, which is very special.
If Real Madrid does not win LaLiga it will not be because Espanyol has taken it away
P. Piqu says that playing one is better than sex. Do you agree?
A. So much, I don’t know. I know that maybe I’ll win it, I’m not going to say no. With Espanyol we have not had that luck. We won in the Cup, but they eliminated us. I don’t know if it’s as much as Piqu says, but I know it’s a very special game.
P. They can end up being judges of LaLiga and lending a hand to Bara…
R. If Real Madrid does not win LaLiga, it will not be because Espanyol has taken it from them. Very badly they will have to do it. I highly doubt they’ll lose that many points, though stranger things have been seen.
Contract ends in 2023. Will you continue?
I have one more year left, if they don’t kick me out… In football you never know. I don’t know what will happen in the future. I am prepared for anything, but I know that nowhere will I be better than at Espanyol. I’m from Espanyol, it’s my team and I hope I can be here for many years, but you never know and it doesn’t just depend on me.