Mr. Boto, when and how did you discover Marcos Antonio?
«I saw two U17 World Cup matches and I fell in love with them. I consider him one of my favorite players of the whole period at Shakhtar and also at Benfica as ds and scout ».
Ever had doubts about him?
«Not me, many others yes because he was not big and powerful. But it’s so dynamic that it can’t be a problem, especially for the football that I like. We didn’t pay much for him, he was without a professional contract. Having found the agreement, we sent him to Estoril, Portugal, to give him a way to adapt to Europe for a year. After only 6 months we decided to take him with us to the first team ».
How do you see him in Serie A?
«He can do well anywhere, I think it always depends more on the coaches than on the championship. In Italy there are many technicians who like to play football with the ball and not without (laughs, ed). Lazio are one of these teams, they will adapt well. Marcos is perfect for coaches like Sarri or De Zerbi, Italian and Aquilani ».
You know it perfectly: where does it stand out and where can it grow?
«His best qualities are the vision of the game and the speed of execution. He moves quickly, always gives passing lines. He would like to be in every part of the field, even when there is no need. In this he could improve, he must learn to be calmer. It may seem counterintuitive, but it is so ».
In Shakhtar he played in 4-2-3-1, is he suitable to be the director of 4-3-3?
«Yes, he can play in any midfield role. He can be a director like Pirlo, Verratti or Locatelli, that is, one who is better at building a game than at destroying it. He has skills and intelligence. He also knows how to play as a midfielder and “box to box”. In short, the position is not a problem ».
Off the pitch what kind is he?
“First of all, he has a lot of self-confidence, he’s a good guy. He works hard and is always ready to improve and listen to others, the coach, teammates and sports directors. He is open for all of them to grow. He will also be like that in Lazio ».
In Rome he will find a maniacal coach like Sarri. What relationship could arise between the two?
«Sarri offers the kind of football I like. It is fortunate for Italy that there are many coaches like him now. I know he is meticulous, attentive to details. Marcos will be able to learn a lot and grow ».
What do you think of Lazio?
«A pleasure to see you play. There are many players that I like, for example Luis Alberto. I tried to take him to Benfica when he was at Sevilla B ».
Brazilian for Brazilian, Marcos Antonio heir to Lucas Leiva.
«Marcos is more dynamic, probably not as strong in duels. But he is very intelligent and knows how to compensate by using his small body to get the best out of contrasts, taking advantage of them. They are two different players, but I think Marcos can become stronger than Lucas. That for me he is a great player ».
Did you hear from Marcos Antonio after the outbreak of the war? What did he tell you?
«I talked to him during this period, it was very difficult for all the Shakhtar players and the people who work there. I went to Paok in December, so I was not in Ukraine at the beginning of the conflict. But I’ve heard all of them, including Marcos. Also because he has a small child and I was very worried about his family ».
Did he tell you anything about Lazio?
«Who is happy to come to Italy and to a great club, with a coach who normally appreciates players with his qualities. I think it will be a happy marriage ».
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