El Khayati reveals why he signed for Mumbai City
Yash Pratap Singh
El Khayati highlighted that there is no competition between him and Greg Stewart.
Indian Super League (ISL) side Mumbai City FC stunned everyone when they signed one of the best players from last season, Nasser El Khayati. The Dutch joined the Islanders as their seventh foreigner and was only registered for the AFC Champions League.
But, Alberto Noguera’s injury forced Mumbai City FC to register El Khayati for the ISL as well. Last season, he was one of the best performers at Chennaiyin FC and racked up nine goals and five assists in 12 matches.
After the Islanders’ game against Kerala Blasters, El Khayati spoke exclusively to the ISL Media. Excerpts from the conversation are below.
Experience of playing with Mumbai City FC
The midfielder was asked about his experience of playing with Mumbai City FC. He said that the club is a perfect fit for him and it’s an honour to represent the Islanders.
“The latest style of play certainly suits me a lot. Playing in an attack-minded team like Mumbai City FC is great, especially when you consider how they performed last season. It’s an honour, of course, and I believe it’s going to be a perfect fit for me.”
He also added that he needs time to get back to his best and the international break will help him regain his fitness.
“However, I do need a few more weeks to bounce back since I joined a bit late. This is only my third week with the team, while the others are already in their twelfth week. But now, we have a break until October 23 for the AFC Champions League, so I have another two weeks to prepare, get ready, and improve my fitness,” he asserted.
On playing with Greg Stewart
Nasser El Khayati shares a lot of attributes with Mumbai City FC’s star man Greg Stewart. Speaking about playing with the Scottish midfielder, El Khayati said, “Well, we don’t really focus on that (competition between each other). Of course, Greg can play in the same position as I do, but we can also play alongside each other, and (together) we can (potentially) be even better.”
He further added that there’s no competition between him and Stewart and he’ll be happy if his teammate scores and assists.
“It’s just that we need some time, and then we’ll see how it develops. For me, it’s not really about competition. If Greg plays, I hope he scores and assists, and the same goes the other way around as well,” he said.
Difference between Mumbai City FC and Chennaiyin FC
The forward was asked about the difference between the playing style of his current and former club. He opened up and said Mumbai City FC’s style will help him score more goals.
“This is just a theory at this point. I’ve only played a few minutes and very few games so far. However, the way we (Mumbai City FC) play will change a lot. I should be able to create more opportunities, score more goals, and provide more assists compared to my time at Chennaiyin FC.”
He also mentioned that Chennaiyin FC were more defence-oriented which did not allow him with many opportunities to score, but that’s completely opposite at Mumbai City FC.
“Don’t get me wrong; I had a great time there (at Chennaiyin FC). But in many games, we often dropped back, waited, and focused on defending, which left us very far from the opponent’s goal. Here at Mumbai City FC, there will be many opportunities to be closer to the goal, be dangerous, and I can use my qualities,” he added.
Playing under Des Buckingham
The Dutchman also shared his feelings about playing under Des Buckingham. He said that he enjoys playing under him as he is very attack-minded.
“Of course, I am enjoying it (playing under him), but I also want to prove myself first before I can enjoy it even more. But yeah, I am enjoying it. The way we want to play, the coach is very attack-minded, you know the quality he has to let everyone play to their full potential, which is a great quality he has,” he quipped.
Reason behind joining Mumbai City FC
El Khayati was asked about what made him join Mumbai City FC. He replied and said that he wanted to play in the AFC Champions League and therefore signing for the Islanders was an easy decision.
“Yes, it was indeed quite late. But you know, in football, things happen very quickly, and when they approached me, I realised that I could also have some AFC Champions League games under my belt, which would be a valuable addition to my career since I haven’t played in the Champions League in Europe. So, it was an easy decision for me,” he signed off.