Fresh off helping Elche stay up in the Spanish top division, 20-year-old Mario Pašalić sat down with his hometown newspaper Slobodna Dalmacija for an extensive interview. Though technically he was born Mainz, Germany, he's called Split, Croatia home since an early age (and is quite clearly a rabid Hajduk Split fan).
The parts that we're truly interested in are the ones relating to Chelsea of course. To the Google Translate machine!
First, the past.
"After I signed for Chelsea, the recommendations of their coaching staff, who to me earlier agreement decided to provide the loan, was that between PSV, who also called me, and I decide to Elche in Elche, because, in their opinion, Spanish league complex and demanding than the Netherlands, and a much bigger challenge for any young player. I could, of course, decide differently, but I listened to the recommendation of people from Chelsea and today we did not regret."
Then, the present.
"I'm often in touch with their technical director Michal [Emenalo], he keeps calling me. They send me videos of my games and moves with my Spanish league matches with hints and suggestions of what to fix in the game and how."
And then, the future.
"Given the intensity of that communication, with optimism in late May will go to London on a new deal with Chelsea."
While Pašalić settled very well in Elche, bringing his parents and his girlfriend along so that he wouldn't be alone, it sounds like he's looking forward to bigger and better things in the near future. Though perhaps expecting a brand new and improved contract just 18 months after signing for 4.5 years is a bit optimistic.
Pašalić's loan has not been the flashiest or the most headline-grabbing, but it has been one of the more successful ones this past season. He worked his way into a first-choice player at Elche (34 appearances all competitions), and he made his international debut for Croatia as well. His future is pretty bright, and with UK rules regarding work permits for Croatian nationals relaxing this summer, we may be able to keep the young midfielder a bit closer to home next season.