It's fair to say that both Eldor Shomurodov and Matías Viña were surprise additions this summer. While Roma were in the market for a new forward, Shomurodov's name was never publicly linked to the Giallorossi, who were rumored to prefer everyone from Filip Kostic to Mauro Icardi. The late-summer acquisition of Viña was one of necessity after Leonardo Spinazzola tore his Achilles tendon at Euro 2020, but even then, plucking the relatively unknown 23-year-old from the Brazilian Serie A raised more than a few eyebrows.
If you were among the Shomurodov naysayers earlier this summer (like me), then you're probably looking into healthy recipes for eating crow. With a match-winning goal against Trabzonspor in the Europa Conference League and a jaw-dropping dribble and assist move against Fiorentina over the weekend, Shomurodov could very well become Mirko Vucinic for the 21st century.
Viña hasn't had any noteworthy moments in a Roma shirt yet, but he's shown no hesitation as he adapts to life in Europe and Serie A. And earlier today, the club officially presented both players to the public. Here are some of the best bits from their joint press conference.
On translating his winning record from South America to Serie A:
It’s true that, while I am young, I have already been lucky enough to win quite a lot in my career. The secret is to focus on things game-by-game, without getting obsessed by the results or by placing long-term targets. It’s about doing things one step at a time
On the tactical differences between full-back play in Brazil versus Italy:
There are some differences, but the main ones are in terms of the tactical setup rather than the fitness work, I think. But, regardless, I’ve been playing for the national team for two years too – where there is also a different rhythm and approach.
So by now I’ve got used to adapting to another different approach, to receiving the different instructions of the coaches and I’m feeling better and better with my new teammates
On Mourinho's expectations for him:
During the game in Turkey [against Trabzonspor] there were different circumstances that affected how we approached the game at different points, in terms of attacking more or defending deeper. It depends a lot on the circumstances of the game in that regard.
As far as things go for me I think we need to keep working as we have been; I need to improve tactically and in how I’m adjusting to European football.
Shomurodov on moving to his first big club at 26-years-old:
To give you a reason is not easy. Every year I have tried to hit the targets I have set for myself. I don’t think age matters too much – what matters is that I am now at a great club like Roma. I am delighted and I cannot wait to show what I’m capable of and to win something for Roma, with Roma
On his ability to play alongside Tammy Abraham:
In terms of my role within the team, I have to say that I do not mind too much – I can play as the central striker or I can play from a wider position too. I feel comfortable all across the forward line, as Roma wanted when they approached me. If I’m asked to play off a teammate, because this will help the team, then I certainly can’t wait to do that
On his early success with Roma:
As soon as I got here I wanted to show as soon as possible what I can do. It’s true that so far I’ve done even better than I expected, but I need to make sure I keep on this path so we can achieve everything we want to this season.
On his relationship with Mourinho:
..we already met each other [by chance] in Moscow two years ago. When I heard about the interest from Roma, I immediately said yes. First of all because it is Roma, a top European club, but also because I would be going to work with a great coach like Mourinho
While we've barely broken the seal on the 2021-2022 season, these two signings, regardless of how much publicity they generated prior to signing up with the Giallorossi, already look like pivotal pieces of the puzzle for José Mourinho. And what's more, they both seem like serious, level-headed professionals who are willing to sacrifice individual glory for the health of the team.
Stick with us this week as we prepare for another two-match week, one in which Shomurodov and Viña are sure to feature heavily.