Exequiel Palacios: “Bayer Leverkusen can win a trophy”
Exequiel Palacios won a Copa American alongside Lionel Messi for Argentina and is confident he can add to his top four honors in Argentinian club football with Bayer Leverkusen this season.
Palacios joined Leverkusen from River Plate in 2020, but injuries – a broken spine and torn ankle ligament among them – have hampered his progress so far.
bundesliga.com sat down for an exclusive conversation with the talented midfielder …
Palacios when he knew he wanted to be a footballer
“I don’t know … I’ve always wanted to play football, since I was little, like four, five, when I played with a ball. My mother worked in a store near the village, and when she was there, I took my ball out onto the field and played, all the time, all night long. I always played with boys older than me, and yes, my dream has always been to play with the ball. I never imagined ending up where I am today, but my dream has always been to play football, that’s what made me happier than anything, I’m very happy to be where I am.
Palacios to find out if he has always been a midfielder
“Always always. I sometimes played a little more to the front or to the right, but I always played in the middle of the field.
Palacios on his former River trainer Marcelo Gallardo
“He did a lot of things, he was the one who brought me to the first division, but I don’t want to forget all the coaches of the youth teams, because I learned from all of them, they leave you a lot of important things in terms of training, life outside of football, and yeah, I’m very grateful to Marcelo because he trusted me, he decided to put me in the first team when I was very young, I didn’t was only 17. And when I was going through the bad times, when he saw me going through a bad time, he came up to me, we talked, and that’s something you always enjoy, when a manager comes to you and trusts you and tells you what to do to improve yourself.
Look: Palacios assisted in the opener as Leverkusen beat Leipzig on Matchday 13
Palacios on the choice of NOTo. 25
âI wear 25 because when I got to Leverkusen I was on vacation, I was in TucumÃ¡n with my family, and I was at a barbecue and we were talking about the numbers that were free in Leverkusen, and I wanted the no. 15 because I had this in River. And my friend told me the 15 was taken, and I asked what the numbers were, and he said 25, maybe 18, something like that. And with my family, we decided if I was going to go no. 25, and that was La Racina, a symbol for me and my family, who are also fans of River. That’s why I chose the no. 25, and then when I got here I found out that the number had a big story here because a great club player was wearing it, Bernd Schneider.
Palacios on German football
âIntensity, here every game is played to the max and they don’t give you anything. The league is really strong and competitive as everyone knows, from minute 1 to minute 90 you have to be prepared, focused, ready for anything. I think I improved in training, I take much more care of myself in my personal life, in what I eat, in the way I rest, I am better prepared for training. You have to be prepared, otherwise things will not turn out well.
Palacios on his South American teammates
âYeah, Piero Hincapie arrived recently, he just moved into his house, but yeah, with Luca Alario, Charly Aranguiz sometimes we meet up and eat meat or whatever with our families. But it is especially here, at the club, that we South Americans hang out together. Most people leave pretty soon after training, in South America it’s different, we share a mate, we chat, and that’s something we haven’t lost here, the essence of be South American.
Palacios on Lucas Alario
âI didn’t have a lot of time with Luca in River, when I got there he was already on his way here, but I get on well with him. You don’t need to talk about what he’s accomplished in River, and what he’s accomplished here, because he’s been here in Europe for a long time, and it’s not easy, it isn’t. It’s not easy to be here in Europe for so long and always be ready to give the best of himself whenever you ask him to play. It’s up to the coaches to decide if they play him or not, but for me he’s a great player and more than that he’s a great person. We share a lot of things at the club and outside of football, we talk to each other a lot, I always ask him things that I don’t understand and vice versa. I get along very well with him, he’s a great guy.
Look: Alario, an X factor for Leverkusen
Palacios on Leverkusen coach Gerardo Seoane
âHe’s a coach who is good for us South Americans because he speaks Spanish. He is a good motivator, he has a winning character. I don’t know everyone here, but we South Americans are used to having coaches like that, coaches who want to win, who tell you how it is, who fight. I like him, I know what he wants, what he really wants, he tells us. But I hope he engages us in the best possible way, for him and for us, the players.
Palacios on Leverkusen’s chances of winning a trophy
âThere are a lot of young players, under 25, and then also some more experienced players like Charly, Luca, with experience, and the majority of players are international players, so we have the quality to win a trophy. I think we are on the right track, we have to keep going because there is a lot of time left in the league, and yes we will see how things go. We have to stay prepared and focused, and stay side by side, that will make us stronger as a group to fight for the important things. That’s what I think.”
Palacios on Rafael Santos BorrÃ©
âYes, with Rafa we have a group with him, MartÃnez Quarta and Montiel. We’re talking, Rafa asked me what the league is like here before signing for Frankfurt, and yes, I gave him my opinion. But yes Rafa is a great guy, a great person, I wish him the best in Frankfurt, but I hope things will turn out badly when we play them!
Exequiel Palacios (right) and Rafael Santos Borre (right) were teammates of River Plate when they won the Copa Libertadores in 2018. -Marcos Brindicci / Getty Images
Palacios on Rafael Santos BorrÃ© II
“Yeah, sure! I’m really happy he took the big step towards Europe. Obviously he had been in Madrid, but I’m happy for his family, they’re great people.
Palacios about playing for Argentina
âThe Copa America was wonderful, something that I had waited for all my life, after so long without winning a trophy. For Qatar, let’s see who goes, but you have to be prepared and do the right things at your club, and focus on your club. The situation will come when it does. The coach has the final say on who will go to the World Cup, but you have to be prepared and wait, and let’s see if I’m on this list, because it’s something every player wants.
Palacios on Argentine coach Lionel Scaloni
âHe got into a situation that nobody really wanted, and he stepped forward and faced a very difficult situation. But yeah, him, all the technical staff, all the players, it’s a great group, and you see that when we play, everyone works for each other, there is no difference, and that i think led us to win a big trophy. It feels good every time we go to play with the national team and share moments with them because we all get along really well.
Lionel Messi (left) edged Robert Lewandowski for the Ballon d’Or after his exploits in the Copa America, a competition in which Exequiel Palacios (right) started four games, including the final against Brazil. – MAURO PIMENTEL / AFP via Getty Images
Palacios on who plays music in the dressing room
âIn general, it’s Moussa Diaby, some of the French players, they play rap. But when it’s game day, everyone has their own headphones, listens to their own stuff, and I try to focus on that. But usually it’s Diaby most of the time.
Palacios on which the player never passes the ball
âFor me, Moussa! … But that’s just his way of playing. He’s an attacker. He’s up there to score goals, no problem. “
Palacios on who spends the most time in front of the mirror
“I don’t know, I’m just focusing on myself, but let’s seeâ¦ There are a few, but maybe Nadiem Amiri.”
Palacios on the happiest player on the team
âThe happiest of all time is Jeremy. JÃ©rÃ©mie Frimpong. He is always happy.
Palacios on who watches football the most
” No I do not know ! I don’t know who it could be. We South Americans, me and Luca, always watch the highlights of games in South America because it’s so late. But who loves her the most? I do not know.”