The official first day of Roma pre-season training yesterday brought about Ivan Marcano’s official unveiling as a Roma player. His and Monchi’s thoughts on the season ahead are below. Though two things were also apparent in this presser:
- Unlike maybe every other new signing, Ivan Marcano still hasn’t been assigned a squad number. Even Bryan Cristante has now taken the number 4 shirt vacated by Nainggolan. After years spent as a journeyman player, Marcano settled on wearing the number 5 shirt for his long spell as Porto’s captain. Read as little into it as you like, but it suggests Marcano is Juan Jesus’ replacement.
- Marcano needed no translation of Italian questions, even if he answered in Spanish, which saves time in terms of him settling into the backline.
Monchi: “Good evening to everyone, we’re here for the presentation of Ivan Marcano, who is the first Spanish signing made since I’ve arrived here as sporting director. That’s something special but also for his quality as a player that I know well from his years in Spain. And after when he left Spain. He had the choice to stay at Porto and to join many other teams, and he has chosen Roma. I hope he has a good journey here.”
You had other possibilities, including staying at Porto. Why did you chose to come to Roma?
Marcano: “I’m here because it was the best sporting project for me. Roma wanted me immediately with insistence and that certainly made an impression on me, because Roma is a big club. I had other possibilities yes, like staying at Porto where I was very comfortable there for four years but I chose to make a change.”
What does Marcano add to the group of central defenders already in the squad?
Monchi: “I think what he brings is what players who have been playing at the top level for many years bring. Maturity, positioning on the pitch, his technical quality, his passing. I think there are so many things that he can give to the team. I think he also complements perfectly what we already have in the team.”
You’ve spent the first day getting to know your team-mates. What are you feelings?
Marcano: “Yes, good. Right now it’ll be important to learn the language quickly, which is very important. I’m getting to know all my team-mates, I already knew Kostas having already played with him before. The first feelings are certainly good, this seems like a good group and that’s a good foundation for the season ahead.”
We’ve heard from the player that he had many options, so I’d like to ask you how difficult was it to agree terms in this negotiation?
Monchi: “Difficult? Not really. The desire for him to come here was important. As soon as we had our first meeting, I think that everything became easier. It’s true that the choice for him to stay at Porto was always there but I think the sporting project that we showed him was important.”
You’ve had a lot of international experience but how significant is it for you to have joined a club that has just reached a Champions League semi-final?
Marcano: “Yes, true, Roma just finished a big season in the Champions League. It’s obvious that it will be difficult to repeat that result because only the biggest teams reach the semi-finals. For my part, I will look to give my contribution to repeat the top European season just gone by.”
Last season, the defence was the team’s strength. There may have been something missing in attack but the defence, especially in the Champions League, was the team’s strength. I’d like to ask you about Alisson, as the stronghold of that defence, how much possibility is there of him staying? Is there realistically a chance of him staying 100 hundred percent?
Monchi: “Chances on Alisson? The same chance of leaving that I’d give to Manolas, Dzeko, Pellegrini. The same percentage of those players who we’ve had no offers. I know you don’t believe me, you too Angelo, but no offer has arrived.”
I don’t believe it...
Monchi: “I read only what I read every morning in the papers but, until today, no. If an offer arrives, we’ll do the same that we can do for every other player. We’ll evaluate it. But today we’re thinking that Alisson recovers from the efforts he gave to the World Cup, that he returns with enough strength to do at least what he did last season, no? Maybe even better.”
You come to Roma after a fairly long career, 30 years old with a lot of experience. There’s a lot of competition in your position. What expectations do you arrive with here?
Marcano: “Yes, there’s a lot of competion here like there is at big clubs. My ambition here at Roma, like all the clubs I’ve played at, is to fight for a place like all players do. And to give a hand to the team and the coach.”
There are six central defenders in this squad. Is there a need to lighten the squad? Are there indications that those who could leave will be Juan Jesus and Capradossi?
Monchi: “No, right now we’re just starting to work on that. It’s true there are many, maybe too many. But we have to wait a little, and understand the thoughts of the coach. I’ve always had it in my head that, with the goalkeeper I’ve been: the more defenders, the better. To help with my own fear when I played. For this, with such a long season in three competitions, having the possibility of so many defenders doesn’t seem like a problem to me. But we have to wait a bit and understand if the coach is happy with things this way or wants someone to leave.”
You said earlier this will be your second time playing alongside Manolas. How much chance is there than Manolas-Marcano will be the defensive pairing to lead Roma’s future?
Marcano: “I don’t know who will be the starting pair of the future. We have just begun pre-season. We all have the same goal: working as hard as possible. Then the coach will decide what’s for the best.”
There have been ten new players in this summer, there could be an eleventh who is already in the squad: Rick Karsdorp. I wanted to know, from your point of view, how is Karsdorp? And what can we expect of him? To see him from the very beginning of the season?
Monchi: “Luckily, he has returned to a very good physical condition. And with the hunger, that’s only logical, to play. We expect him to be on the pitch as soon as possible. He’s at the same level as his team-mates and we think that for us he’s an important signing. As you said well, he’s our eleventh signing because he’s a player we signed last year with the utmost confidence. We’re convinced he’s a top player. Unfortunately, the injury didn’t let him play. But I think this last year will be useful because now he’s arriving with more strength.”
You’ve scored in four different leagues. I don’t know if there are many defenders with this kind of record. Italy could be the fifth different league you score in. I wanted to ask you is there a way to train and learn this way of scoring? Did you study in some way to become a goalscoring defender or is it just an instinct to score goals on your opponents?
Marcano: “No, probably with time you just learn where to be in the box. In particular on set pieces where I’ve scored the most of my goals in the opposition’s box. So there’s nothing in particular, just experience giving a better sense of positioning and judging your opponents.”
Between Ziyech and Berardi, who has the bigger chance of joining Roma?
Monchi: “According to Wikipedia? (laughs) According to Wikipedia, no? It’s a loaded question. Like we said on Saturday, we’re looking at the mercato. Roma is a big club and a big club has to look at the mercato right until the very end. And there’s still more or less 40 days to go until it closes. I think that saying ‘either Ziyech or Berardi’ would mean the sporting director is a little weak. Maybe he is, but it seems to me like small thinking. We’re looking at so many things because, like I said earlier, right now we’ve just begun working. And as soon as we built the squad, I think we built it well but at times there is something missing. We have to look to see if there is somewhere we can improve. But it’s not the case that we are stuck on such a small thing like names, in my head.”
Here in Italy, Juventus has monopolised the league with their seven title wins. How much of there is a feeling from abroad that Juventus is unbeatable? How do you see the signing of Cristiano Ronaldo?
Marcano: “Yes, in Portugal at the beginning of last season, there was also a feeling that Benfica was unbeatable and set to win their fifth league title in a row. Instead, things went differently. It’s obvious that a team that has won seven straight titles will start as favourites but then there’s the need to win the titles on the pitch. For everything regarding Cristiano Ronaldo, it’s not a deal that’s finished or concrete so I can’t give any comment.”
You’re joining the most tactical league in the world. Do you think in this latter stage of your career that you have a chance to improve even more? Especially under a coach like Eusebio Di Francesco: what are your impressions of working under him so far?
Marcano: “Yes, obviously. It’s clear I can and want to improve, you can always improve at any age. It’s important that a player always has the desire to improve. I’m coming to a league where there’s a lot of importance given to the tactical aspect where there is a lot of work on the tactical plan. I’m certain I can improve under Di Francesco.”
What was missing from Roma’s Champions League campaign to reach the very end? And what do you think needs to be done to go even further this season?
Marcano: “I saw the Champions League semi-finals, they were very competitive games with a lot of goals. Games decided by key events. For Roma, there was probably missing that extra five minutes at the end in both the away and return leg. So there wasn’t anything really missing from Roma itself in the European campaign. For the league, probably it’ll take going the extra mile in terms of performance and we’ll look to get that because you can always improve and we’ll work for that.”
This morning, Manolas said that it’ll be important especially for the new arrivals to get busy and work hard. Can this be the strategy for compete with Juventus who are a few steps ahead?
Monchi: “Work is always the solution for everything. Always. We took a choice this year that was important even if also risky, to try and get the squad in place as soon as possible. Because like this we can work as hard as possible, as soon as possible. At the end of the day, there’s a bar set by the two teams who finished ahead of us last season. And we have to look at every road possible to reach there. And work seems to me like the most important thing.”