In an exclusive interview with AS, Espanyol striker Raúl de Tomás spoke about his time at Real Madrid ahead of the meeting of the two clubs on Sunday.

Do you imagine yourself playing where Vinicius is now?

“I had the option of staying [at Real Madrid] when I spoke to Julen [Lopetegui], but I decided not to because I felt I wasn’t going to be part of the setup that year. The pre-season didn’t go well for me, I barely played, and I need to compete to feel good and happy and also for my family to enjoy watching me play football, and at Madrid, I felt it wasn’t the place or the time.”

On Karim Benzema

“I love Benzema. He’s capable of stepping out of his comfort zone. He is the most complete striker in the world. And I see myself in him because I like to link up, drop to the wing, drop deeper to receive the ball, a bit of everything. The complete striker is not just the one who hangs in the box, although I would do that if it meant scoring 30 goals a year. But that’s the way I’ve always played football.”

You made your debut with Real Madrid under Carlo Ancelotti at the RCDE Stadium. Does this Sunday close a circle?

“Yes, it comes full circle, it’s all very curious. It was a very special moment for me, and I will always be grateful to Ancelotti. For me and my family, it was very important, I will always be grateful to him.”

And what was he like?

“I didn’t know him very well, but he’s a top coach, you only have to look at his track record. And as a person, he’s fantastic. The way he treats players and his ability to make decisions is second to none. That’s vital in a team like Madrid, and that’s why he’s always done well.”