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Matic energised by club's ambitions

On the eve of the start of pre-season, Nemanja Matic was formally presented to the media as a Roma player on Monday afternoon.

With the media assembled at Trigoria to speak to the Serbia international, the club's General Manager Tiago Pinto was quick to welcome the multiple Premier League winner.

"I am very pleased that he has made this choice," Pinto said, as part of his opening remarks. 

"A player like Matic gets to choose exactly where he wants to go, and the fact he chose us is a great sign for our project and the progress we are making."

Matic then took questions from journalists. Here is everything he had to say...

Welcome to Roma. You have played a lot with Jose Mourinho – 118 times in total. Only Frank Lampard has played more times for Mourinho. How will that strong bond with the coach help you, and what is your first target here in Rome?

“As you said, we know each other very well. I am very happy to be here with him again, of course. He was one of the reasons why I chose Roma. Roma as a club is attractive to players and to me, and I am very happy to be a part of this club. As you said, only Frank Lampard has more games with Jose than me and I will try to break his record!

"But I am happy to be a part of this massive club, to work with Jose, to be part of this team – because I think the team has a lot of big players with important qualities and also some young ones with big possibilities who can be very important for the future too. So I cannot wait to get started in training tomorrow.”

What’s going on in Manchester? Lots of players are leaving this summer, including you. Why did you decide to move and leave the Premier League?

“It’s a good question. I have the right answer, I think. After eight and half years in the Premier League I decided it is the right time to leave and find a new challenge. As I already said, Roma is a very attractive option, it looked to me like a good step and the right step. Serie A is always a challenge and so that is the reason why I decided to leave Manchester United.

“Of course I could have made the next step in Premier League but I decided to change league, to try Serie A – because I think here you have a lot of big clubs and every year the league gets more and more interesting. So that is why I made the decision and I think I made the right one. We will see.

“Everyone knows that United did not win the title for a number of years. It’s a big club and I wish them all the best. I have not been there for a few months now so it is hard for me to say what is going on. I can only say that I was very happy to be part of that big club, one of the best in the world, and I wish them all the best.”

The General Manager just said it only took you a few days to decide to come to Roma. How much was Mourinho a factor in that, and also the fact the club won a European trophy?

“I think that, as Tiago said, the negotiations were very quick because the ambition of the club, the coach and the team are the same as my ambitions. The last game of the season, in the Conference League final, did not affect my opinion, because as I said the decision was easy and I had already decided to come to Roma. Once I have decided something in my head then it is impossible to change my mind.”

Do you think Lorenzo Pellegrini could be a player like Frank Lampard? And do you see yourself playing well together in midfield?

“Yes, of course I know almost every Roma player. I watched the games. It’s clear that Pellegrini is one of the best and most important ones for sure. He is a great player and I think we will have a great connection on the pitch. But it’s also true that tomorrow we are starting to train and so we will need to show that on the pitch. But I definitely like him as a player.

“We have a big squad, quality in the team and a good base of experienced players along with the young ones who will be very important for the future.”

Last season Mourinho was clear that the club were looking for a classic ‘regista’ in midfield. Do you think that will be your role, or will you play alongside that sort of player? And do you prefer to be part of a two-man or three-man defence.

“From my experience with Jose I know that he can change the system and it depends on the players he has in the team. For myself, during my career I have played in both a three-man midfield and a two-man midfield, so for me it is easy to adapt and I try to do my best of course. So it depends on the coach, what he wants to play, and I will do what he wants.

“At Chelsea and Manchester United I sometimes played in a two-man midfield, sometimes a three – so I can adapt to playing in both types of system. So I think that is quite easy to answer.”

How come you agreed to accept a one-year contract with an option for another year?

“Of course, when you play for Manchester United in Premier League of course you have different offers. But my idea was to come here and to play for Roma. To work with Jose Mourinho once again as well – and, as I said before, once I make a decision in my head then I don’t change it.

“But, of course, to answer your question it is true that I had different offers but I don’t think I made a mistake.”

Did you already speak to Mourinho last summer, when he first arrived here? Did you speak to him again before signing the contract this summer?

“As I said, we had a good relationship before and we stayed in touch, but last season we did not speak about me joining Roma. That happened only a few months ago. But we stayed in touch but we didn’t speak about that. In football you never know what is going to happen in the next months, and we have enough experience to know about that.

“When we spoke a few months ago he said that he wanted me in the team and of course that affected my decision. But him and Roma was a perfect connection for me, and his ambition and my ambition and the club’s ambition is going in the same way. So we will see next May what we have done together.”

 
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