'I always gave my maximum for Barca' – Malcom turns focus to Zenit after failing to break through at Camp Nou

The winger is ready for a fresh start in Russia after he was unable to establish himself as a starter for the Catalans

Former Barcelona attacker Malcom insists that he was perfectly happy at Camp Nou despite moving to Zenit in the summer after failing to nail down a starting spot in Spain.

The 22-year-old winger was sold to the Russian Premier League club for a fee of €40 million (£36.5m/$44.5m), plus €5 million (£4.6m/$5.6m) in add-ons, having become expendable to the squad following the signing of Antoine Griezmann.

Despite only making 24 appearances and scoring four goals for the Spanish giants, the Brazilian has no qualms about the effort he put in at Barca and says he is ready to move on in Saint Petersburg.

“I’ve always tried my best, because in a club like Barcelona you have to be always ready. And everytime I was called to play I gave my maximum,” Malcom told Goal in an exclusive interview.

“Football is like this, you have to grab your chances. Zenit made a great effort to hire me and they made a very good proposition.

“I was very happy at Barcelona and I’m sure I will be happy here at Zenit.”

Malcom’s start to life at Zenit hasn’t been smooth, with a section of the club’s supporters questioning his recruitment because of his skin colour.

His Zenit journey hasn’t been positive on the pitch either, with a hip injury keeping him out of Saturday’s game against Akhmat Grozny after making two second-half substitute appearances versus Krasnodor and Dinamo Moscow.

However, he remembers a moment from his time at Barcelona fondly – when he struck against Real Madrid in Copa del Rey semi-final first leg – with a goal that will stick in Blaugrana supporters’ minds.

“When you score important goals you leave your mark in the supporters’ memories. I’ve always worked hard to play well and to help my team, and that’s the way to build a career,” Malcom said. 

“You have to show all the sweat and dedication for the supporters to respect you. Of course, playing well is important, but the dedication also counts.”

Malcom also revealed his admiration for Barcelona star Lionel Messi, showering him in praise after his experiences alongside the Argentine legend.

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“Messi is an exceptional player, a great person, great team-mate and a very good person. He respects everyone, we got on very well. He’s world class and deserves all his success,” he said.

Malcom’s Zenit, who are currently top of the league, travel to face FC Ufa on Saturday before preparing for a match against rivals Spartak Moscow on September 1.

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