Khouma Babacar is helping us forget about the Viola summer woes, first by signing a new contract after very little fuss or drama, and then giving a humble and honest press conference today. After a breakout 2014/15 season (many years after debuting for Fiorentina), the 22 year old striker could have played a bit of hardball with the Viola and looked at other offers; thankfully, Baba has his heart set on the team he has grown up with.
"For me this new contract is only the beginning; I can still grow a lot and am happy to stay. After 8 years in Florence I never want to leave... This is what I wanted ... I am the kind of person who doesn't think about these matters much, I only thought about playing, the rest I left to my lawyer [but] I gave my ok from the beginning, so now I'm happy."
Babacar sported a backwards red Nike cap and a grin most of the press conference, greeting reporters jovially. Naturally the conversation to hearing Khouma's thoughts on other things swirling around the club, from the transfer market ("I'm just waiting for the season to start") the Mohammed Salah debacle ("I wrote him the other day, but he only answered 'I'll let you know,' but then I heard nothing") to Federico Bernardeschi's potential renewal (laughing and repeating "he'll do it, he'll do it").
The man of the moment was also asked whether he feels ready to be a full starter for Fiorentina:
"Yes I feel ready. I just have to keep working, with the whole team, with the coach, all together, so that we can have a great season ... I don't have a guaranteed starting position, I only have to work to earn it on the field."
Babacar admitted that he had other teams seeking him out, but emphasized that "I only want Fiorentina. Period."
The young Senegalese had kind words for former manager Vincenzo Montella, and spoke on new boss Paulo Sousa:
"[Montella] showed me how a youngster should integrate into a group; no, he taught me how to play, he taught me a lot. I thank him, for giving me the chance to play and the chance to learn. [Sousa] is always giving me a hand, I have had a good first impression. I don't know him like I knew Montella, but he seems a great coach."
Babacar was also asked on the other Senegalese in the camp, Diakhate, who recently impressed in the first Fiorentina friendly: "I've met him this year, and now that I've seen him play, I can see he is great. I hope he can go far with humility and lots of work."
Finally, Baba also spoke for a moment on his own growth, and the long journey from teenage debutant to now:
"[My growth as a player] was a bit rough because when I was younger I was hard headed, now I have the right mentality, and thanks to this group [of players, i.e. the team] I don't have the problems that I did."
The full interview can be found on the official Fiorentina website, with a version with English subtitles likely coming soon.