Jose Mourinho refused to talk about Romelu Lukaku, insisting his focus is solely on tomorrows game against Hellas Verona. The Giallorossi have been among the most active Serie A teams in the transfer market, but Italian media reports suggest their work isn’t done yet. The club are expected to make a move for Chelsea’s Lukaku in the coming days, with UK media reporting that the deal will be a season-long loan. The move is expected to provide valuable attacking cover for Tammy Abraham, but speaking in his pre-match press conference, The Special One preferred to discuss tomorrow evenings opponents:
Azmoun and Lukaku?
“Azmoun is not our player yet either, so I hesitate to talk about him. He is in Rome, I don’t know if he is in Villa Stuart so I don’t see him as a Roma player yet. Imagine talking about Lukaku, who is a Chelsea player. Not to run away from your question, there are so many clubs in England and also in Italy where you name a player and they do that. We are in a different situation, what was proposed to me by the manager was Azmoun not as my striker, but as one of my strikers. To be one of my strikers, if his condition is good, he can help. He did very well at Zenit, he did not do well at Leverkusen so we can take him on loan. If he had done well, we could not have taken him. When the director proposed Azmoun to me, he told me that another striker will come, if I am like that I will be happy. If it will be a quality striker, with Belotti and Azmoun we have good options. But I am calm and wait. The most important thing is tomorrow’s game, I think about tomorrow and we have been working for that.”
Verona has already won the first one. What kind of team is it? There will be three thousand fans.
“It will be three thousand good ones. The other day at the Olimpico it was full, but some didn’t play. Maybe they were more busy doing something else. Real fans were few. These people from Verona, one Saturday in August will be there to cheer the team. Against them we lost once, then won at the last minute with Volpato. It’s always been very difficult to face them. Their new coach very good, they play differently from last year. They’re returned to the stability of previous years. We are prepared for the two solutions. Very hot, very hard but we did it. We got Lorenzo and Paulo back after missing the first game. We lost Renato because of a small problem. He will not be there. We want to come out of Verona with four points. Tiago told me he will work hard to get another striker. He works quietly that I work with the team and the available players.”
Are you worried about the signings? Paredes, Sanches, Azmoun?
“If we go to a club to buy a player who has had a great season it is not that we don’t have the economic capacity. We have to adapt with the risks we have. Is it a surprise that Renato cannot play tomorrow? If you see his history, that is. If he is fit he is a starter at PSG. He is not coming to Roma. Dybala’s situation. Many were doubtful about his condition. We have become specialists in coaching people like that. Great past, great potential. We try to get the best of them. At the level they have been. That’s our reality. Low expectations. We work, we give our best. Maybe it is strange for you to see me so quiet. For me tomorrow is important .”
Do you expect any other operations in and out besides the striker?
“You used an interesting word: exit market. Let’s see if Arabia comes for someone and anything can happen. It can improve the roster or even get worse. The risk is there. Let’s see, we only have four central defenders. If someone comes great, if he doesn’t come we go on like this. I also talk to the players about having them motivated. Even if they play little. The time will come. Solbakken did not play the last one, he will be on the bench the next one. There will be the time when everyone will be needed.”
What is Roma’s goal should a striker arrive?
“If we are the ones who improve on our own … the problem is that others improve as well. My goal can go no farther than ‘I want to win the next game.’ Inter, Milan, Napoli, Juventus are playing openly for the title. We must finish in the top 4. After a Lazio that did the feat last year, then in Europe was on vacation. Fiorentina has said exactly what they want. Atalanta have improved and invested. I tell you Roma is between fifth and eighth. After that if one can do a feat and finish in the top 4 that’s great. I hope that if we succeed in this, it means we have not been on vacation in Europe.”
Sanches injury? Can Cristante be there with Paredes?
“Renato I think he can come back after the break to recover from the small muscle injury. So the staff puts him in the conditions to improve. Good players can always play together. It’s thanks to the coach, but that’s how it is.”
With the midfielders, have you ever thought about a change of form?
“We did it a little bit with Salernitana. Making Cristante a defender. Smalling coming out. The full-backs were in a four. One thing we can do. In the end you see that tomorrow already there are only 5. After next week will be the last week where we have one game a week. After Europe Thursday, Sunday, then Wednesday in the league. It is an area of the field where we have very good solutions: Bove, Aouar, Pellegrini, Paredes, Renato, Cristante. We have two doubles for each. It depends on the type of striker we have. Who is the second Dybala? Aouar and Pellegrini . We are not a fast team. I feel sorry for Renato. Since we lost the depth of Zaniolo, of physical power. Renato is someone who when he is well is really important for us.”