When should we expect to see you back on the pitch in an official game?
I always want to be playing, but I know that I am not 100% ready yet. I need to improve physically and now with these friendlies, I'm getting playing time. Things are happening step by step with the aim of the 29th of February.
How frustrated were you at being injured in your second game and missing out on helping Zenit in the Champions League?
It was very frustrating because I came here to play in the Champions League and to help the team and make the Zenit fans happy. But these things happen and we shouldn’t think about it too much, or the things we’re thinking about end up happening. You have to forget about these things and move one. I got injured, but now I'm ready to play and I hope I can do that as soon as possible.
What were the most difficult moments of your recovery?
When I got injured, it didn’t hurt. So the most complicated thing was post-surgery, that was painful and I had about two weeks with stitches and not being able to move my leg. This was certainly the most difficult phase. After that I started training with the Zenit medical team in St. Petersburg and they allowed me to go to Brazil. Part of the rehabilitation took place at Corinthians training centre, but under the supervision of Zenit's medical team. The weather conditions were better in Brazil and I was close to my family home, I then went to Dubai in January. I didn’t experience any pain there and now I can do almost anything with the team, I’m training with my teammates, playing in friendlies and having minutes on the pitch.
You mentioned your stay with Corinthians, what is your relationship with the club and do you want to play there again in the future?
Corinthians was my first club and so my relationship with the president, directors and coaching staff is excellent. They let me use all the facilities and they were very good to me, even letting me use the best training pitch. It was hot there and that made me sweat a lot and lose some weight that I had gained while out injured.
Because of this injury you were unable to play for the Brazilian Olympic team. Do you want to play in the Olympics?
First of all, I want to get back to playing and helping my club. Then yes, I will think about the Olympics. But now, I am totally focused on Zenit and then whatever comes after that will be fine. I prefer to let my football do the talking. Who knows, if things go well I might be thought about for the Olympics.
What about the main Brazilian team, do you think you have a chance of being called up while playing in Russia? Giuliano was the last Brazilian to be playing in Russia to get selected, so do you think the Tite, the Brazilian manager is following Russian football?
Tite follows all the leagues, no matter where they are and he keeps an eye on all the players. Hulk was always in the Brazil team when he was here, so I don't see any problem. Zenit is a great club, going for the title and the Russian league is a good championship. If I do a good job, then things will happen.
Do you think it was right to leave Barcelona and what impressed you most while there?
At Barcelona I learned a lot as a professional, both on and off the pitch. I had to keep up with the best in the world. I hope that everything I’ve learned there will help me at Zenit.
What are things like at Zenit? We know that there are many players from South American and some Russian players try to speak a bit of Spanish. Have you thought about learning Russian?
The atmosphere is excellent. I am starting to understand a little, pass it forward, come back, just a few words. But, I know that with effort and slowly I will be able to learn the language. This is very important time in my career.
How important is it to have Brazil’s William Artur de Oliveira on the coaching staff?
It is very important, because when I don’t understand something I can always ask him. William helps me and Douglas Santos a lot. He is always willing to help us and translate everything the coach says.
Were you pleased with the viral video in which you accidentally hit the referee with a ball?
It is funny, because it’s hard to pass it to a player from such a distance, but I managed it! I would prefer not to say too much on this, because the referee could have booked me for that and I don’t want to say anything that can annoy the refs, in case one shows me a red card. But yes, that video was very funny and went all over the world. But the referees should know that it really was an accident.
Zenit have a 10 point lead in the league. How do you rate your chances of winning the title?
We must keep going and do everything that the coach tells us to do. We don’t have many secrets here. The atmosphere is very good and we are extremely focused on both the league and the Russian Cup. If we do everything right, then there is a big chance that we will win both trophies.
In your first game in Russia against Krasnodar, there was a small banner displayed in the stands that drew a lot of attention with accusations of racism, especially in Brazil. How did you feel? Do you think there is a lot of negative news said about Russia and are things worse there than say Italy or Spain for example?
I will always tell the truth and in an interview then I spoke about it very clearly. If there is any racist abuse towards me, then I will ignore it. I came here to play for Zenit. If one or two fans don’t want to watch me, they are not going to decide if I stay here or not. From my point of view, these are bad people, but I take this in my stride. I am very focused on what I want, to make history at this club, score lots of goals, win titles and do well in the Champions League. St. Petersburg is a truly European and beautiful city, the team and its supporters have welcomed me very warmly and I am happy to be here.
The original Spanish language article can be found here on Yahoo Esportes.