Togo’s Djene Dakonam on how Messi, Griezmann and Ronaldo improved his game

Djene Dakonam of Getafe
The Togo international was a consistent performer for the Deep Blues as they secured a Europa League ticket

Getafe defender Djene Dakonam says it is always exceptional for him to face top strikers like Barcelona ace Lionel Messi as well as Atletico Madrid forward Antoine Griezmann in the Spanish LaLiga.

The 27-year-old joined the Deep Blues in 2017 from Belgian side Sint-Truidense and has continued to be consistent for the side.

He made 34 appearances for Mauricio Pellegrino’s men to help them clinch a Europa League ticket after finishing in fifth spot on the LaLiga table.

The Togo international believes playing against top strikers in the league has helped him to improve on his performances.

"Whenever I come up against players like Messi, Griezmann or Ronaldo - like I did last season - it's always exceptional," he told BBC Sport.

"It's always a great source of motivation. As a defender you know these attackers need just an opportunity to get a goal so you have to be on top of your art to contain them.

"You have to be fast, you have to read the game and you have to be a step ahead of them. I've worked hard these past seasons playing against them and obviously it's improved my game.

"LaLiga this season has been very competitive but as a team we've improved. We play better now."

Dakonam also revealed the influence of his Togo teammate and former Real Madrid striker Emmanuel Adebayor on his decision to join Getafe.

"Adebayor isn't just a teammate, he is more like an older brother to me," he explained.

"He has played for the best clubs in Europe's top championships and has a wealth of experience which is very important in football nowadays.

"Before joining Getafe, we had a chat and he explained to me why I should go to Spain instead of anywhere else and since then we've stayed in touch.

"He played in Spain and has a knowledge of the league which I've been learning from. His words have been helpful and I'm grateful to him."

Dakonam’s decent performances for the Deep Blues have seen him linked with some European clubs but the defender has insisted on seeing out his contract.

"I have a deal with Getafe that ends in 2023. I am happy with the team and what we've been able to achieve thus far," he continued

"It's always good to hear of the interest from the big clubs. I appreciate this but I really don't let it get to me. I just want to continue working hard, stay healthy and give in my best."

Togo failed to qualify for the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations in Egypt after they finished at the bottom of Group D during the qualifiers.

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"It's a great disappointment for the team and the entire nation. I think we had a good group and we should've qualified," he added.

"But there are a lot of things we need to strengthen - it's a learning process for us and we need to begin competitions properly.

"We have to be realistic and continue to progress. I believe the future is good for us."