Back-to-back press conferences at Trigoria this week, as Roma chose to introduce new keeper Pau Lopez to the media this morning. This conference was brief, with Lopez very open and willing to share the black-and-white facts of everything that’s carried him to the Eternal City.
Meanwhile, Petrachi’s willingness to hog the mic is already a point of contention on Roma’s radio waves. As straight-talking defender Ubaldo Righetti said this morning: “Petrachi has to work inside Trigoria and make his ideas felt in the team, and just not care about what’s said on the outside”.
LIVE: la conferenza stampa di Pau Lopez https://t.co/UOh3ZFkuPU— AS Roma (@OfficialASRoma) July 16, 2019
“I’m not used to presenting players like this everyday. Here I’ve got to get used to it. He’s arrived and others are coming, so you’ll see me in this blazer more often even if I don’t like it so much.
Pau Lopez is a player I’ve tracked personally. I believe the choice to bet on Pau Lopez was a footballing one and, above all, based on personality. I believe handling a place like Rome is difficult. Being a goalkeeper is difficult for every player in any city, because that’s a very particular role. But I think it’s even harder in Rome because the pressure is so much that a goalkeeper has to have the courage and personality to pick himself up. We’ve seen it happen here: even the great keepers can go into total confusion, I dare say.
What hit me about this kid is his big character, how he rushes out a lot, he’s great at coming out of goal. I believe in today’s football, a keeper that has that ability to come out of goal that much solves so many problems for his defence. He has that kind of personality, to come out and assume that responsibility. In Fonseca’s idea of building the ball out the back, [Lopez] becomes that extra libero to the team. He has a quality left foot, and he totally represents that courage that the coach said he wanted of his team.
[Lopez] admittedly comes from a different school of football than the Italian one. He’s seeing that for himself in these first few days of training, where he’s in a little trouble because we’ve great and capable goalkeeping coach like Savorani who’s already teaching him principles that we’re naturally good at taking on and carrying out in Italy.
So I believe in the idea that he can listen, learn and carry out all the tactical talks that Savorani gives him and that’ll give him the last major growth in his career. I’ve talked a little too much so I’ll let him speak.”
CdT Verdict: Maybe Petrachi is one of those guys who spends so much time holding things in, it comes out in dissertations when he’s finally ready to talk.
Pau Lopez on Fonseca’s expectations of him:
“In these first few days with the coach, we’re focusing on the defensive phase. He’s explaining what he’s looking for in our team: Intensity, a team that presses continuously, a team that plays high up the pitch. So right now we’re focusing on that defensively but there’s time to work on the rest.”
Pau Lopez on modern football and ball-playing keepers:
“I think the [importance of it] depends on each coach. Every keeper has to adapt to their coach’s demands. In this case, Mister Fonseca wants the ball played out the back and if a keeper is able to dominate in these respects it can only be of benefit to the team.”
Pau Lopez on his flaws:
“(laughs) I have many. As Gianluca was saying, I come from a different footballing school in Spain and Marco [Savorani] works in a very different way to what I’m used to. Here there’s a lot of attention paid to the small details, we work on every minute detail. In any case, I’m sure that after I get used to it I’ll do well.
Beyond that, I’ve got a huge desire to learn and everyone spoke highly of Savorani. I’m sure that I, too, can make the most of his advice and learn from a new league like the Italian one that represents a big challenge for me.”
Pau Lopez on whether Alisson is the model for his Roma career:
“I know Alisson was a very important keeper here at Roma, and one of the best keepers in the world right now. In any case, I don’t like comparisons. I’m Pau, I’ve come here to improve, to grow, to help the team and write my own story. It’s always good to learn from the best keepers, but right now the chapter of Pau begins here. I hope it’ll be a great story and the people can be proud of me.”
Pau Lopez on turning down Barcelona and the Premier League for Roma:
“At the beginning of this summer, I was very clear that I didn’t want to leave Betis. Then came Roma’s proposal and, at that point, I changed my mind and wanted Roma one hundred percent. In my head there were only ever two options: staying at Betis or coming to Roma.
I felt like it was the right moment to take a step forward in my career and make that final step in my growth. So I felt it was either I stay there or come to Roma. In the end, coming to Rome become a reality and that was what I wanted.”
Pau Lopez on taking a wage cut to come to Roma:
“Both Roma and I wanted this move. We both made efforts to make this happen and I don’t think it’s the time or place to say anything else.”
Gianluca Petrachi continues:
“Well in reality, I’d like to add that it might seem like we setup this question to come out in his introductory press conference, but now you’ve brought it up... It’s obvious that you don’t see this everyday. A player who’s already got a good salary set up for himself and his agent, ready to find money to make this deal happen that only the player could find in this case.
To close this deal, seeing as Betis wasn’t moving a single cent on the fee, to find the right numbers that Roma felt was the most they could spend on the player, the kid took the decision to take a wage cut. And his agent has a commission on the future sale of his client, which the agent turned down to make it happen too.
So we definitely saw that in a positive light, and I think the quality of the kid shows itself here. That desire but that capacity, despite his young years, to already act like a man.
And yes, we have up 50% of any future sale on Antonio Sanabria as part of this deal.”
CdT Verdict: Petrachi laying it on thick here. But an agent who turns down commissions. Who knew?
Pau Lopez on Barcelona:
“In that [Espanyol] game, my action against [Messi] was over the line and I expressed my public regret. But I think derbies are always emotional affairs.”
Pau Lopez on talking with his defenders:
“Yes, I’m a keeper who’s used to talking a lot. I already understand enough Italian but out of respect to the club I have to learn it properly as soon as possible. Something I was already doing in England with learning English. Out of respect to the club, the people and my teammates I’ll definitely have to make myself understood as soon as possible.”
Pau Lopez on his shot at becoming Spain’s starting keeper:
“I’ve changed a lot of teams in the last few years, from Espanyol to Tottenham. Tottenham to Betis. Now I’m here at Roma. It’s my intention to stay in one place in peace, and continue to grow. I think Rome is the perfect city to do that. It’s an extraordinary club, a goalkeeping coach that everyone spoke very highly of to me. I think this is the perfect place to take a step forward in my career.
Starting for Spain? I don’t give it much thought because I think my call-ups will depend on how I perform for Roma, so I’m looking to perform for my club as soon as possible.”
Pau Lopez on his goalkeeping role models:
“The goalkeeper always has to adapt to what the coach asks, as I said. If they’re playing me with a high line and ask me to play out of goal, that’s what I’ll do to help the team.
Role models? I don’t have one in particular. I’ve always looked at keepers on the television growing up and looking to steal little things here and there from what I saw.”
CdT Verdict: We like Pau Lopez already, even if there are reservations on the money spent. One of the journalists asking their question today was insistent that Pau Lopez is one of the top ten most expensive goalkeepers of all time.
It remains to be seen how the Lopez-to-Roma deal is structured, which we’ll only know next summer when the full expenses are published. So there’s no real point worrying about it now.
It’s time to enjoy sweeper keeper days making their way back to the club. Pau (can I just call him Pau from now on?) seems like a no-nonsense guy off the pitch, saving his exhuberant side for when he steps onto it.