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Pau Lopez: Once I knew Roma wanted me my mind was made up

Summer signing Pau Lopez was presented to the media for the first time on Tuesday morning, as he took questions from the assembled media at Trigoria.

Accompanied by club sporting director Gianluca Petrachi, who welcomed the Spaniard to the capital, Lopez answered a number of questions about his decision to move to Roma, along with his main attributes as a goalkeeper and his experiences in his career to date.

“We’ve decided to bring Pau Lopez in for his talent but also for his personality," Petrachi said in his opening comments. 

"Roma is a big stage, which makes it tough for players and particularly so for a goalkeeper. There’s a lot of pressure – if you make a mistake as a goalkeeper, you need to be strong enough to bounce back. What has struck me about Pau Lopez is his character and bravery.

"He’s very good at coming off his line and that’s a quality that solves a lot of problems for the defence. With Paulo Fonseca’s tactical approach, of playing out from the back, the goalkeeper can provide a boost to that. He’s left-footed, is very capable with the ball at his feet, and has the bravery that Fonseca requires.

"[Goalkeeper coach] Marco Savorani is helping him with the fundamentals of Italian football; with the goalkeeping coach’s help, he can improve even more.”

Read everything that Lopez had to say in our transcript...

How is the training camp going and what is Fonseca asking of you?

“I’d like to start by thanking the club and the sporting director for having taken a chance on me – I know it’s taken a real effort to get me here, so it’s now up to me to give everything to repay that faith. In recent days we’ve been focusing with the coach on the defensive phase of play – he always underlines that he wants a team with intensity, which presses and plays high up the pitch. We’re focusing on that right now and we’ll look at other aspects further down the line.”

In terms of qualities, you’re very good with your feet. Do you think that’s a key aspect in modern day football?

“I think it depends on the coach – the goalkeeper must always adapt to what’s asked of them. Fonseca wants us to play out from the back, so if the goalkeeper is able to master that part of the game, they can be useful to the team.”

We’ve mentioned qualities – do you have any weaknesses?

“Yes, several. I come from a different way of doing things – it’s different in Italy and Marco Savorani’s way of working is unlike what I’m used to. There’s attention paid to every technical aspect, every little detail. I’m sure that after this settling-in phase I’ll feel very good. I’m very eager to learn – everyone has spoken very positively about Savorani and I’m sure I’ll take on board his advice and learn a great deal from the Italian league.”

Alisson came to Roma at your age, more or less. Is he an example to follow, including when it comes to using your feet?

“Alisson was a great goalkeeper for Roma – he showed himself to be one of the best in the world. However, I don’t want to compare myself to others – I’m Pau and I came to Roma to grow, improve and help the team. It’s a good thing to learn from the best but Pau’s story at Roma starts now. I hope to write some great pages of history and make the fans proud.”

Your agent said Barcelona were after you too. Why did you pick Roma?

“To start with I wasn’t thinking about leaving Betis, but the offer came in from Roma and I changed my mind and wanted to come here. There were no other options – it was either stay at Betis or come to Roma. It was the right time to take a step forward, to keep on developing. What I really wanted – to come to Roma – was what materialised.”

Did you forego part of your wages to come to Roma?

“Roma and I wanted this transfer to happen. Efforts were made on both sides and I’m happy to be here – there’s nothing else to add.”

At this point, Petrachi added: “It’s rare to see a player willing to make a financial sacrifice to complete a deal – he opted to waive part of his wages, while the agent has foregone his percentage on the fee. We are very happy to see this. We appreciate the qualities of this guy – his desire and the fact he is very much an adult despite his age.”

You came through at Espanyol – we’ve seen you clash with Lionel Messi. How much do rivalries drive you on? What do you remember of Roma v Barcelona?

“Coming through as a youngster at Espanyol you really feel that rivalry with Barcelona. I’ve apologised for that coming together, but derby matches are always important – the fans are up for it and they are special games. It’s also important, however, not to go overboard. The Roma game was incredible, an extraordinary comeback and a match I very much enjoyed watching at home.”

You are the most expensive goalkeeper in Roma’s history. Did you expect so much attention in the transfer market? What didn’t work out in your spell at Tottenham?

“It is a responsibility when a club takes a real chance on you – nobody knows in advance how things will go but I guarantee hard work, humility and sacrifice. It is up to me to prove that I am worth this bet the club has made. I am calm and relaxed that I can give my best to make the fans proud.

"At Tottenham I knew I wouldn’t have many chances to play; I had been playing at Espanyol for a year. I knew [Mauricio] Pochettino from Espanyol and I knew I wouldn't play, but also that it would be a useful experience. What I learned there has helped make me the keeper I am today.”

Are you a big talker out on the pitch? What language will you speak in?

“I’m very vocal and I’ll work hard to learn Italian as quickly as possible – I already understand a fair bit. I did the same with English and I will do it here out of respect for the club, my team-mates and the fans.”

Is Serie A the right league to improve your chances with the national side?

“I come to Serie A having changed teams a few times over the years, from Espanyol to Tottenham to Betis. Now I want to stay in one place for a while. I think this is the perfect club for me to improve – it’s an extraordinary club, with a goalkeeping coach that everyone has spoken very positively about.

"This is the right place to take a step forward in my career. I’m not thinking too much about the national team – I know that’ll depend on how I perform at Roma, so I’m focused on doing as well as I can.”

Are you ready to play with a high defensive line? Is there a goalkeeper that inspires you?

“The goalkeeper needs to adapt to the needs of the coach – if we need to play high, I’ll do it. As a youngster I watched all the best keepers on the TV, but there’s not a particular one who inspires me.”

 
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