At long last, Sergio Arribas has become a first division La Liga player. At 21-years-old, it is long overdue for the Spainard who has torn apart the Segunda B the last two seasons. Now at Almeria under an exciting project with Vicente Moreno, it appears Arribas will be handed the keys as the team’s number 10. In what will likely be his first start, Arribas plays against Real Madrid on the second matchday. In an exclusive interview given to Revelo, the player answered a host of questions on why he chose Almeria, training under Raul, his goal output for the season, and a potential Real Madrid return:
How is the adaptation to Almería going?
These first few days, very good. Both with the coaching staff and with teammates. Adjusting to the weather, to the training schedules, but everything is going well.
Why did you choose Almería?
It is a club that is giving opportunities to young players. I was talking with Joao (sports director), who had two years to sign me. They spoke to me about the city and the club. They are laying a very solid foundation to remain in First Division for many years. That was what caught my attention the most.
Was there someone especially important to convince you to come?
Yes, Joao. He let me finish the season with Castilla, he respected the time-table, but as soon as the season was over, he insisted that I come and join Almeria. He told me that I was a player that this club needed. The truth is that I did not think much about it. He wanted to make the leap to the First Division. He knew that here they were going to give me the opportunity. Now I have to show my quality.
Vicente Moreno usually uses the playmaker position, the ideal one for you. What has he asked you in the first talks?
He has signed me for that position, that of the #10. I can play in any of the attacking spots, but I think the best one for me is the one behind the striker. The coach asks me to step on the area and do what I have been doing these years.
Interest from Xabi Alonso at Bayer Leverkusen...
There were no firm offers. There were rumors and I think they asked about me, but there was never a firm offer on the table. I also wanted to play here in Spain. This project came out from Almeria and I came here.
There were always rumors, but you have now finally left Madrid. How have you handled everything that has happened?
Good. Last summer I stayed an additional season because I talked to Real Madrid and they convinced me to stay. They were going to make a very solid team to get promoted to Second Division, and we almost did it. But this year I had to move on. Most of all I wanted to play and have First Division minutes. In Madrid it is very difficult. They sign the best of each position every year and there I was not going to have so many opportunities. This has been the best decision for me.
Second game, and Madrid comes...
It is a very special match for me. I had been at that club for eleven years. It was my second home. They are three more points, like any other encounter. We will try to get the victory or the maximum possible points.
You know them, how can you beat them?
They are the best in the world. Out of nothing they get an opportunity or score a goal. With Vinicius or Rodrygo they will do you a lot of damage.
Rüdiger or Alaba will defend you...
At least I know them, it’s not new to me. It’s going to be a very tough game. We have to be very solid at the back because this team doesn’t give you many chances.
Is this your first experience living alone?
It is. My family was here, but they left yesterday and left me alone. I am going to have to live this year alone, although my family, my friends and my family will come and go.
Is the match against Madrid an opportunity to make amends after maybe you didn’t have all the opportunities you deserved at Madrid?
It’s a special match because you come from that club and you want to give everything to show that they’ve made a mistake. What should be in there. But I come to have a very good season. To give my best and do what I have done in recent seasons. I think it’s going to be a very nice season for Almería.
Did you speak to Ancelotti before you left?
I did not speak with him.
How was your relationship with him?
Ancelotti is a First Division coach. He has won many things. Everything with Real Madrid and also outside. He is very professional. I haven’t played or trained much with them either, but he was a very kind person, if he had to tell you things he would tell you. I am grateful for the opportunities he has given me.
From coach to coach, how important has Raúl been to you?
He has been very important. I’ve had Raul as a coach for these last three seasons. It has helped me a lot on a personal and football level. He has told me things clearly. What I had to do. He wished me luck and I wish them all the best for this season.
Could it be one of the most important people in your career?
Of trainers, surely in the Top-3.
What do you keep from these three years with him?
He always has the whole team involved. As demanding as he was on the field, he is outside. Take care of all kinds of detail. It is the clear example of what Real Madrid is. Of being humble, of having an attitude, of going to any field and giving the maximum until the last minute... He is a clear example of what Real Madrid is and what he has been like as a player.
Can you imagine Raúl as coach of Real Madrid in a few years and you in the squad?
Hopefully. Who knows, but that would be a dream...
Were you very sorry to leave Madrid staying so close to promotion to the Second Division?
I was very sorry because it was my last game with Madrid. But we have to be very proud of the season we did. We had a season of almost 10/10. I think we were the youngest team in the category. Especially where it was difficult for us was away from home and I think we were the best visitor in the category. That took us time to achieve. In the four playoff games, we showed our faces. It is true that the first game against Barça was difficult for us to get going, but in the second leg we played a more serious one and we were able to take the win. Against Eldense, it was a very close match both in the first leg and in the second leg. We are very happy with the season we did. A pity not to go up, but we continued to learn and grow.
When the referee whistles the end against the Eldense, what went through your mind?
The whole season comes to mind. All the years that I have been in Madrid. I am grateful for everything they have given me because I have spent half my life there. It has helped us all to continue growing. To be more mature as footballers and as people. Knowing that those little details that make a difference have to be smoothed out a bit.
What did Raúl tell you?
He told us what’s up. That we had had a very good season, although we didn’t see it in those days. That they were details that, being so young, we do not see. We are maturing with time and, as it passes, we are going to see it with different eyes.
Do you feel that there is a lot of pressure on you for being a Madrid youth player and for what you have achieved in recent years?
Yes it is true that there is pressure. For how the signing has been and for how I have come to this club. But I have to be calm. Do what I’ve been doing these past few years. Play football. What is outside does not matter. I have to focus on each match and each training session.
Do you maintain contact with former La Fábrica veterans?
I have contact with Miguel Gutiérrez and with Latasa. They have had more experience in Primera. They have given me some advice.
That the First Federation is not the same as the Segunda B. That here the ball goes much faster. That it is difficult to leave a player that is marking you.
I will be myself, I’m sure it’ll go well.
You scored 15 goals in 21-22 and 21 in 22-23. Do you wear any figures this season?
The coach hasn’t asked me for anything yet. I’ll make a bet with him. I hope I reach those numbers, but I think 10 goals, for the first season, is fine.
Apart from the two against Real Madrid, is there any other game that you are looking forward to playing this season?
Matching up again with the teammates I’ve been at Castilla would make me very happy, although the most special one will be against Madrid.
What objective does Sergio Arribas set for this season?
Keep growing. I’m starting this race. Grow as a footballer and as a person. Get the best advice from the coaching staff and the players.
And the Almeria?
As a club, they are making very good signings. A very solid base to spend a long time in First Division. The objective of this year is to ensure permanence as soon as possible and, if possible, look to Europe.
Which players would you sign for your LaLiga Fantasy team?
Vinicius, for what he is becoming and for what he is giving to Madrid. Perhaps also Rodrygo, who has a lot of goals in him. He would surely sign me, to demand more of me on the field. From Almería, to Luis Suárez, who goes with everything and has a lot of goals. He is going to have a very good season. And maybe some ex-teammates. Miguel or Latasa, I know they are going to do very well.