Lucas Piazon is a player of undoubted potential, who's been consistently dubbed "the next Kaka" (more on that later) and tipped as a future star of the Brazil national side. Having joined Chelsea in 2012, the 20-year-old has been sent out for loan spells at Malaga, Vitesse and now Eintracht Frankfurt. In this exclusive interview, Piazon opens up to Bleacher Report on his career so far and what he hopes comes next.
Samindra Kunti: Could you describe your youth development as a player?
Lucas Piazon: At Coritiba I was very young. At the age of 14, I moved to Sao Paulo. I had been living at home with my parents [but now I was on my own]. I went to school in the morning and in the afternoon I practiced with Atletico Paranaense.
At Sao Paulo, I was at the training ground all the time and went to school with my team-mates. I was living there 24 hours a day, seven days of the week. It was very different for me. I was basically living alone, but I learned a lot.
SK: You moved to Chelsea at an early age, were you not afraid it was all too much too soon?
LP: At that moment, it was great opportunity for me. I was not afraid. I was not playing first-team football at Sao Paulo, and I got a great offer from Chelsea. It was a new league, a new style and all young Brazilian players dream of playing for the big European clubs.
So Chelsea bought me when I was 17 and I went to England. Soon I was playing with excellent players. At Sao Paulo, I never played first team football; at Chelsea, I played at the academy. I was very young and it was difficult, but the experience counted.
SK: Why did you choose Chelsea?
LP: In Brazil, the European leagues are always shown [on TV]—the Italian league, La Liga and the English league. I was always watching football, [but] I was not a big fan of Chelsea. But if I had to choose an English team, it would be Chelsea. I liked the style and it was around the time when Chelsea won the Premier League twice in a row.
They also played in the final of the Champions League against Manchester United [in 2008]. I liked the team and the players, and that turned me into a bit of a fan.
SK: You've had the chance to work with Chelsea’s head coaches. How do they compare?
LP: [Andre] Villas-Boas was gone after one or two weeks, but I worked with [Roberto] Di Matteo and [Rafa] Benitez, with whom I didn’t have so much contact. Di Matteo gave me chances to start in the team. I think he liked my style of play. At the time, I was only 18 years old, so to play for Chelsea was very tough.
Di Matteo was a great coach and he taught me a lot of things. He helped me with positioning, defending and going forward. He wanted me to be aggressive. Benitez gave me a chance to debut in the Premier League. Then I moved on loan to Spain, to Malaga.
SK: At Malaga you met Manuel Pellegrini. What did you make of him?
LP: It was for a short period of time, not even six months. It was good for me because I was not playing a lot for Chelsea, but at Malaga I was playing every week—even if it was just like 20 or 30 minutes in a game. [Pellegrini] was a top coach and I played with good players. The experienced players taught me a lot. After training, Julio Baptista, Roque Santa Cruz and I played more and did some more work. They helped me a lot.
SK: From Malaga you went to the Netherlands, where you were prolific. What changed?
LP: Vitesse had a lot of young players, and that was very different from Malaga, where most players were experienced. I got the opportunity to start on a weekly basis—I played a lot of games and scored a few goals. Vitesse was a team that played possession [football] and tried to never give the ball away—to play football.
In [the Netherlands], every team plays attacking football and the coach asked us to not lose the ball. Sometimes it’s better to keep the ball and wait for another chance. It was a good time, and it was basically my first season as a professional football player.
SK: A few goals? You scored braces against Zwolle and NAC.
LP: Yes, at Zwolle, I scored my first two goals for Vitesse. At NAC Breda we were losing, but then I scored a goal before and after the break and we went on to win the game. That was close to the winter break, so it was an important game.
SK: After the winter break you lost your spot in the team. What happened between you and coach Peter Bosz?
LP: The first game after the winter break, we won, I think against Zwolle, but then Vitesse did not win for four or five games. The away games against Feyenoord and Twente were difficult. We dropped a few games and the coach decided to change the team and benched me.
I think he blamed me, but football is played with 11 players. It was unfair. In the second half of the season, when he dropped me, he didn’t win so many games anymore. I was the guilty one.
SK: How are you adapting to Germany?
LP: It’s nice. Frankfurt is a nice place and a nice city. The Bundesliga is a bit stronger, and I have to do different things than [I did] in [the Netherlands], where I had the ball much more. The level is very high, and it is one of the best leagues in the world. Germany are the world champions. It will be a very competitive season. For a young player, it is good: a lot of running, a lot of defending. I need to be physically fit.
SK: How do you assess the start of the season?
LP: The first two games were good—we won at home against Freiburg and the second game we drew away to Wolfsburg. In the third game, we didn’t play well and lost 1-0 to Augsburg. But it has been a good start. The target for the club is to be in the Europa League.
SK: Are you at ease with you new coach Tomas Schaaf?
LP: I think I am still adapting, and he knows that. He told us what he expects us to do, and it is a little bit different from what I was used to at Vitesse. It’s more defensive-minded than at Vitesse, where we were always pressing forward—the whole team was going forward. At Frankfurt, we wait more for the opponent. I stay at the halfway line and I have more defensive duties. But it’s okay, I will adapt.
SK: Which players are you gelling with?
LP: I think the offensive-minded players have a good connection. I have a good connection with [Haris] Seferovic and [Inui] Takashi—with them I have got games and minutes. [Nelson] Valdez is injured now and [Vaclav] Kadlec played instead of him [against Augsburg]. The four of us should have a good connection in the upcoming games. I think Kadlec will play more games, and I can adapt quickly to his style. He will develop that way and help me develop as well.
SK: From your arrival at Chelsea to Eintracht Frankfurt, are you a different player now?
LP: At Chelsea I did well. At Malaga I began well but then ended badly, not playing a lot of games. At Vitesse it was a bit of the same story. At Frankfurt I hope to be consistent, but I always try to improve. I train every day, and in the Bundesliga I am the best player I can be. When I receive the ball, I always try to play forward, create chances and score goals. I look for a one-two or a decisive pass, but I am not sure what my main quality is: shooting, passing or dribbling.
The experience in other leagues is helping me, but I need more improvement if I want to play for Chelsea. If I don’t impress, I will never play for Chelsea.
SK: You have always been compared to Kaka, but why have you always rejected that comparison?
LP: Yes, the media said that when I was 15. I was a No. 9 for a while. Kaka was a midfield player and the comparison was made because we are both from Sao Paulo and on the field we have the same style. That’s normal in Brazil. At Santos, they always say there is a new Robinho or a new Neymar. But [it] is more a joke than anything serious.
SK: You went to the World Cup in Brazil, what was the experience like?
LP: I watched Brazil vs. Croatia, Brazil vs. Chile, Germany vs. France and Argentina vs. Switzerland. The atmosphere was great, especially at the Brazil games. It was good to have a World Cup—a major event—in our county. Everybody was happy and excited. It would have been better if Brazil had won.
SK: How do you explain Brazil's 7-1 scoreline against Germany?
LP: Ah, well, I think it can happen to anyone. Brazil tried to play aggressively against Germany, but they were good on the counter-attack. After the second goal, Brazil lost their way and their heads. That way, you are dead and Germany killed the game in the first half. After that, Brazil couldn't do anything.
SK: Is Dunga a good appointment as the new coach of Brazil?
LP: I think so. Previously, he won all trophies for Brazil, but he couldn't win the World Cup in 2010. He is a good option, and he can do a great job.