Kerim Frei has laughed off comparisons with Lionel Messi and insisted he still has a lot to learn despite a bright start to his Fulham career.
The Swiss winger has taken the opportunity to impress new manager Martin Jol with both hands and his second-half introduction against Arsenal on Monday night helped to turn a riveting London derby in Fulham’s favour. That followed fine performances in the Europa League, where he scored his first goal for the club after making the opener for Moussa Dembele last month against Odense, and at Chelsea, when Frei was handed his first league start after starring against Fulham’s local rivals in the League Cup.
I’ve read a lot of positive things from supporters about my performances. I saw someone describe me as ‘Fulham’s Lionel Messi’ which obviously made me very proud. But I think it’s a bit too much.
I’m just Kerim, no one else. Messi is much better than me. I can still improve a lot, just like he improved a lot from when he was my age but to one day be like him is certainly a good target.
The manager giving young players like myself a chance has had a positive impact at the club. Of course, I have a lot of hard work ahead of me but when you have a coach who likes younger players it’s a great incentive. He gives great advice, too. Before training he’ll tell you ‘you need to do this or that better’, and after he’ll ask you what you learned. It really helps.
If I can sit on a dinner table with someone like Mark Schwarzer and I can talk with him about all of his experiences and what he’s achieved, it is amazing for me. People like Mark and Mousa Dembele have been great. They encourage me to do what I do best, to run at players and make things happen. They’ve taught me to think about when it’s the right time to dribble and when to pass. I always try to go past the player, look for the one-two with Bobby Zamora or Andrew Johnson. I like to take players on.