'I just felt affection' - Malcom reacts to Zenit racism storm

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The 22-year-old was greeted by a banner on his debut that underlined some fans' desire to keep black players away from the team

New Zenit signing Malcom has played down the firestorm over a racist banner that greeted him upon his arrival to Russia

Earlier this month the Brazilian made his debut for the Russian giants and saw a banner unfurled in the stands that read: “Thank you leadership for loyalty to traditions.”

The banner was in reference to a manifesto posted online by the club's Landskrona supporters' group which called upon Zenit to not sign black players. 

When asked about the banner, however, Malcom chose instead to focus on the fans who have supported him since his arrival in Russia. 

"To be honest I just felt affection and a lot of respect here at Zenit," the Brazilian told Goal. "The show they've made during my presentation and during my debut motivates me even more.

"That's all that counts for me. Our supporters can count on me paying back the affection I'm receiving from everyone here at Zenit."

The 22-year-old did concede that he has had overcome plenty during his career, and has used his detractors as motivation.

"I do my work, and everything that I've faced during my life was fuel so I could reach my objectives, both in sport and in my private life," Malcom said.

"That's how an athlete's life is, you can't stop to grieve at each situation. You have to focus on your objectives."

Following one season at Barcelona in which he struggled for playing time, Malcom made the move to the Russian giants this summer for a fee of €40 million (£36.5m/$44.5m), plus €5m (£4.6m/$5.6m) in add-ons.

Malcom had plenty of suitors for his services, but says that he chose Zenit due to the success previous players have enjoyed at the club, including a fellow Brazil international. 

"Lots of players, like Hulk, have come into here and achieved a lot, and I think that if I play well and keep my level high it will be all that matters.

Hulk Zenit

"I had the chance to choose and I chose here because I know it will work."

Having made two appearances for Zenit thus far in the new season, Malcom has underlined his desire to repay the club's investment and faith in him.

"To play well and help my team-mates and coach so we can achieve good results and titles," he said. "That's how I can be useful and I will give 100 per cent to contribute to Zenit.

"I'm a very disciplined player and I know my responsibilities and the effort made by Zenit to sign me. So I must give my response on the pitch."

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