He has played only one official match (last Friday, in the Italian Cup) but he has already made a strong impression. ,He is absolutely reliable and immediately understood what football I wanted to play., his coach Andrea Sotill was delighted. Christian Kabasele, aged 32 and after seven seasons at Watford, the last of which was in the D2, chose Udinese as the starting point for a new adventure. “Everything is fine here in UdineHe smiled straight when we reached out to him this week. I haven’t seen a drop of rain for more than ten days. This changes the weather in England but I have no resentment from it.
Christian, so you’ve left Watford after seven years!
“Yeah! When you spend so many seasons at the same club, it means a lot. It’s because I wanted to stay there longer. There I had some ups and downs, mostly because of injuries, But the management never fired me. At every transfer window, I got opportunities to move but I never felt that the project that was offered to me was better than Watford. I also had an offer to play in the European Cup but we Think twice before leaving the Premier League. This year was different; when I got this offer from Udinese, it was the first time that I really considered an offer. At this point in my career, maybe that’s the thing for me most suitable.”
Do you have any other offers this summer? Your name was specially mentioned in Qatar.
“It is true that I had the possibility to prioritize the financial aspect over the sporting aspect. And not just this year. But I believe I still have good years in me to be able to play in the top European Championship. Money can come at some point but, at the moment, I prefer to go to Serie A.
“I was likely to prioritize the financial aspect over the sporting aspect.”
Udinese being run by the same family as Watford, this destination is surely no coincidence?
“Yeah, definitely. they sold a central defender (Editor’s note: Rodrigo Bacao at Fenerbahçe) a week before my arrival. Because I have a good relationship with the Watford management, they thought of me before looking for any other defender on the market. My profile matches their expectations. So I had a discussion with the owner of Watford who told me about the possibility. I thought about it for a long time but finally decided it was the right time for a new challenge.
It is true that for a defender to join Italy is special. Even At 32, Are We Still Learning?
“Yeah. In three weeks I’ve already learned a lot of things. The coach’s style is different from what I know and he emphasizes a lot of little things like body position or running style to defend his goal. I believe you will keep learning till the end of your career.
You are also the oldest outfield player on this team, the fourth youngest in the league (average age 24.4 years). Will you have a special role?
“When I spoke to the coach, he made it clear to me that it was my duty to lead by example and lift others up with my experience and over 100 games in the Premier League.” He also underlined the fact that he would be more demanding with me than with the younger ones. And that’s normal, given my experience.”
There, you are already at home because there are many former Watford players (Ferreira, Quina, Kamara, Masina, Succeed or Deulofeu).
“It is an advantage and it has obviously facilitated my adaptation. Achieving these benchmarks helps me a lot on a daily basis. The second chance I have is that there are a lot of French speakers in the group.
It is true that Udinese is the most cosmopolitan club in Serie A, with over 80% foreigners and eighteen different nationalities. Is it money or is making osmosis more complicated?
“I see it more as an asset. It all basically depends on the character of the players. And, here, I found very open and welcoming teammates. Obviously, we bond more with people who speak the same language, but I don’t see any totality or division in the locker room. Everyone interacts with everyone and that is also the strength of this club which emerges from a good season (Editor’s note: Long top 10 before finishing twelfth).,
“If racism becomes an obstacle, it would mean that the racists have won.”
Many players of African descent are on your side. It also proves that the recurring stories of racism in Italy are no deterrent. Did you think about it before signing?
“No. If this breaks, it would mean a victory for the racists. I don’t want to start basing my choices on the stupidity of minority supporters. I choose my career based on myself, my family or my friends. I do. We’ll see what happens here with me, but if players start refusing to come to Italy because of racism, it’s not a good sign.
You will start on Sunday night at home against Juventus. This is worse than baptism of fire!
“It’s definitely going to be fun. I remember my debut at Watford was against Arsenal. I think the stadium will be packed because Juve is one of the most popular clubs in Italy and one of the most hated clubs. Personally, this would allow me to go straight to Serie A in Bath.
You’d Rather Defend Dusan Vlahovic Romelu Lukaku still hopeful of a move to Juve. Wouldn’t you have preferred the opposite?
“Yeah absolutely. Had met him before when he was at Everton, Manchester United and Chelsea so it would have been nice to face him. But I really wish Romelu all the best who is a quality player and a nice person . He deserves to develop in the biggest clubs; So, I hope he finds a club that suits him soon as he is still a top striker. He doesn’t deserve all the criticism that he gets meet.”
“Lukaku doesn’t deserve all the criticism he gets.”
Are there any other strikers you can’t wait to face in Serie A?
“Yeah. A player like Rafael Leao (AC Milan) is one of the best players in the world in his position. So, we obviously want to face a player like that. That’s how we keep improving and in these moments We enjoy the most. I am also looking forward to playing against Victor Osimhen (Naples) or Olivier Giroud (AC Milan), whom I have met many times in England. There are many great players in this league who are slowly Coming back in. We saw it last season with all the European semi-finalists.
Inevitably, when you face great players and play in a major league, you think about the national team. Are you still thinking about it even with the new generation emerging?
“I have never closed the chapter of the national team. But as I often say, this is something that has to happen naturally. As long as I play all my matches here and play at a very good level, I think I have a chance. In any case, it is difficult for a coach not to select players who are beginners and who perform well in a major championship. The present day football is no longer a question of age as we see many players who are developing at a very good level even at the age of over 35. Let me take the example of Thiago Silva who at almost 39 is still a starter at Chelsea. It is a question of quality and not age.”
“Current football is no longer a question of age.”
Have you ever had contact with Domenico Tedesco?
“No, not now anyway. But it’s all up to me. If I develop to a very good level and start talking about me again, everything can happen very quickly.
This season, you will meet some compatriots and a possible future competitor for the Devils, Connie De Winter who signed from Genoa. Are you optimistic about this new generation?
“The future is much more positive than we imagined two or three years ago, when we thought about who was going to take over from the golden generation. We see a lot of youngsters who sign for good or very good clubs. And there are always some elders who are still there to support them. So the future is very positive but we should not put too much pressure on these young players. They need to grow and evolve slowly, acknowledging that the trajectory is not always linear and that sometimes there are difficulties to overcome.
Injured, officials in poor condition or waiting for a transfer, Domenico Tedesco has to come up with something new: “we risk a surprise selection”