After returning to first-team training following an ankle ligament sprain suffered on his debut, Chelsea loanee Marco van Ginkel is now looking forward to kick-starting his season-long stint at AC Milan.
Van Ginkel, 21, was stretchered off just 30 minutes into last month’s 2-2 Serie A draw at Empoli and there were initial fears that he could be facing another long spell on the sidelines, having missed most of last season with a torn anterior cruciate ligament.
The Dutchman has revealed that he is almost back up to full speed, however, and has expressed his determination to help the club improve upon the previous campaign’s disappointing eighth-place league finish, alongside former Blues teammates Michael Essien and Fernando Torres.
‘Fortunately I have almost recovered,’ he told Omroep Gelderland. ‘Milan are a great club: last year they finish eighth but we do not want that to happen again.
‘This club has often won big trophies. In training there are many fans who always ask for autographs, it's nice to be here.
‘Almost everyone speaks Italian here. The coaches barely speak English so I take lessons in Italian and I understand more and more, but of course it is very difficult and I'm not here long.’
Signing for Chelsea from childhood club Vitesse last summer for around £8 million, Van Ginkel made just four appearances during his first season in England before tearing his ACL in a League Cup tie against Swindon Town in September.
Returning to the reserve team action towards the end of the campaign, the two-time capped international impressed in pre-season but, with the likes of Cesc Fabregas, Eden Hazard, Oscar and Willian ahead of him in the pecking order, was set to spend most of 2014-15 confined to the Stamford Bridge bench.
Milan were keen on acquiring Van Ginkel’s services on a permanent basis but, with Jose Mourinho remaining a big fan of his all-round midfield qualities, were forced to settle on a loan deal, albeit after he required some persuading due to his desire to fight for his place in the Chelsea line-up.
‘Milan was interested in me for a long time and wanted to buy me from Chelsea,’ he said.
‘They followed me when I played with Vitesse and also for the [Netherlands] Under-21s, I think when we played against Italy.
‘Obviously I already knew [Nigel] De Jong, Essien and Torres so this made things a little easier. [At] Chelsea I had not been included in the list for the Champions League as with so many foreigners in the squad someone had to leave.’