Malcolm, how would you rate your first year in Russia and with Zenit? The double is a good start, isn't it?
I'm very happy! At the very beginning of the season I got injured and it upset me a bit, because I really wanted to play and make some history in a Zenit shirt. But I healed and got back out on the pitch.
What has been the most difficult for you, adapting to Russian football or getting used to living in Russia?
I don’t know…I like to be at home by nature, I like to spend my time indoors, relaxing after training and matches. I don't really like going out to places. Plus, I’ve been as focused as possible on football, firstly getting back from injury, then on playing again. So for me, not much has changed with the move, except the weather is much colder!
Speaking of the weather. You came to St. Petersburg from Barcelona, a city with amazing weather a bit like your native Brazil. How did you find your first winter in St. Petersburg? It is a very beautiful city, but the winter can be very cold.
St. Petersburg is beautiful it's true, and even more so in winter! There is so much snow around, when my family came to visit me they loved it here. I feel very good in this city and I want to make history at Zenit! I also want to learn to speak Russian better.
You recovered from an early setback with the injury, but when football started again we saw you in a new position, with freedom to roam and playing behind Azmoun and Dzyuba. You scored two away to CSKA and ended the season on a high, you must be pleased?
Yes, we worked very hard on the new position so that I could be ready for it because I’ve never played in the centre before, I’ve always been out wide. Everything went well and I was able to help Zenit with goals and assists. Now, I’m ready to do my best in whatever position I play.
Does playing in the Champions League motivate you? What is yours and the club’s goal in this competition?
First of all, getting out of the group, then to give it our all in the knockout stages. Every player here wants to do their part and take Zenit to the next level. Together we must do this and I think we can.
Would you like to return to La Liga one day? Maybe even to Barcelona?
I don’t know, I’m happy with everything at Zenit. Now there are a lot of rumors about Sevilla, but this is all false. I am focused on Zenit and am going to see out my contract here. I’m only thinking about that.
Does having Brazilian Douglas Santos and several Argentines here at the club help you get used to things?
Yes for sure! While I was at Barcelona for that year I learned Spanish quite well, so now I can easily communicate not only in Portuguese with Douglas but also with the other Latin American players. Russian is not easy, it’s true, but I’ve already learnt some phrases that help me communicate out on the pitch.
Zenit’s successful season ended just 10 days ago with the Cup win and tomorrow you start a new season with the Russian Super Cup. Is it tough physically? As you’ve had no time to rest?
We have excellent Italian fitness coaches and we all feel great, full of energy and ready to start the new season. I am sure that this season will go down in the club history and not just thanks to the league and cup double, but also because of the Champions League.
Do you think Zenit might be able to reach the Champions League semi-final or even the final in two or three years?
The club is constantly improving and I am honoured to be part of this process. This year we will battle to get out of the group and continue in the knockout stages, but in a few years, I think we will be able to aim even higher.