Luciano Spalletti faced the media for the first time this season in Pinzolo on Tuesday and was in riveting form as he opened up about everything from the new signings to the future of Francesco Totti.
Spalletti on … the new players:
“Alisson strikes me as a great guy. He has a real physical presence and from what I’ve seen in our practice matches, he has a big personality. I like him.
[Juan Manuel] Iturbe came to me asking for my thoughts on his situation today. I told him that I’m eager to see what he can do with my own eyes. He’s strong and quick, he has a good shot on him and he’s very willing. Sometimes when you focus on those things you can lose sight of the thinking side of things, the decision-making, so I’m curious to see that.
I know [Leandro] Paredes pretty well because I’m from Empoli and I’ve seen him play and train. He has some obvious strengths. He’s lacking a bit of pace but he makes excellent decisions.
In my eyes Mario Rui is a player that could replace [Lucas] Digne. He has great character and is ready to work hard. He can deal with any type of opponent.
[Moustapha] Seck is full of running and throws himself into the tackle. He was desperate to join our club and that in itself is important.
We followed [Federico] Ricci last season and he made a great impression on us.
Gerson is a quality player – he certainly has his strengths. It’s not easy to help him show that right away because he’s very young and a long way from home.”
Spalletti on … the first match of pre-season:
“The key thing is to play as a team. We’ll try not to overdo it with the ball and stick to as few touches as possible – that was our calling card towards the end of last season and we need to carry on from that straight away.”
Spalletti on … Miralem Pjanic:
“Miralem called me before he left and I liked that. Pjanic has a great touch and makes quality decisions on the pitch so it’s down to us to find a solution. We already have a few. Our objective is to go up against Juventus, Napoli, AC Milan, Inter, Fiorentina, Sassuolo and Lazio on a level playing field and do battle against them all.”
Spalletti on … Juventus:
“Quality of play is something that can go in our favour or for those ahead of us. You could say it’s worth two points – it can give you that edge. Juventus can sign whoever they want but we want to try to win. Just like last season, there are no excuses: we must aim for the top.”
Spalletti on … Juan Jesus and Nacho:
“They’re players being monitored by Walter Sabatini. We need at least two versatile defenders. Juan Jesus is a top-quality player and we’re looking for top-quality players, within the realms of what we can do. [Toni] Rudiger was a great help to us last year because of his flexibility. We need a full-back with different characteristics to what [Alessandro] Florenzi gives us when he plays in that position. When the transfer window is open, the risk in doing things straight away is that you might miss out on opportunities that arise a week later. It’s not right to force something if you’re not convinced. We’re looking for certain players, but we have room to make up our minds.”
Spalletti on … Edin Dzeko:
“At the moment all I can do is assess his desire to succeed and to remain at Roma. Last year I tried to help him more than anyone else. The main thing is that he wants to be a part of Roma and if he does then he's our centre forward.”
Spalletti on … his contract:
“I don't want to feel relaxed; I want to feel alive. I want the players to know that I have to earn my next season here. I want to stay at Roma. We have to do our jobs professionally otherwise we shouldn't be doing them at all – especially not at Roma. Last time I was here I was happy for three seasons when we played at 100 miles an hour, but then we had another which was only half good and I had to leave.”
Spalletti on … Kevin Strootman:
“If you want a decent team, you need lots of leaders. It's a long, hard season. We're looking for a few more leaders and we already have one in Strootman. Let's not heap too much pressure on him. He's capable of dealing with it but after what he's been through he'll probably need a few games where he won't necessarily be performing at his best. Make no mistake though: Strootman is a top, top player.”
Spalletti on … Alisson and Szczesny:
“They're two great keepers but we don't have Szczesny at the moment. In any case, having two great keepers is an advantage.”
Spalletti on ... Totti:
“I think last season showed that we managed him the right way. It also showed that he could have been used a bit more given the results. Just as I didn't agree with those who said Totti should play no matter what, similarly I don't agree with those who say it's Totti's last year. No one knows if it's his last year. I'm of the opinion that he should stop whenever he feels it's right to – I've always said that. There's no one else like him so if he's fit he should keep playing. I think Totti could play on for another season – it depends on how he does this year. I'm not going to give him anything for free but I'm not going to take anything away from him either. I think Totti will decide whether to not to hang up his boots based on how well he does this year.”