Tiago Pinto reflects on his work at Roma ahead of February departure

Andy Mattioli

Roma General Manager Tiago Pinto gave a lengthy interview to The Athletic where he reflected on his work in the Italian capital.

In the interview, Pinto discussed some of the challenges and accomplishments over the three years spent at the club, working with limited financial means and strict UEFA Financial Fair Play conditions.

“I’m not the type of person who tries to work 15 years in the same place and feel comfortable. I like risks. I like challenges. I think my time at Roma is coming to an end. I’m not talking about the end of Roma’s project or the Friedkin’s, but the mission I had is almost accomplished. Personally I feel tired.”

“Twenty years ago a sporting director watched games and signed players. Now it’s no longer possible,” he said.

“At Roma we selected the best players from the youth sector and worked them as if they were first team players. They had a psychologist, a nutritionist, a special coach. The guys from the communications department gave them media training. All to reduce the gap between the youth teams and the first team. Nicola Zalewski and Edoardo Bove were part of that group.”

“When I first came to Roma we had more than 70 players under contract. Most of them were non-key players. I don’t want to mention them all, but everyone remembers Pastore, N’Zonzi, Santon. Also other players like Bianda, Coric and Riccardi. Many players that Roma had under contract weighed on the wage bill and did not play on the pitch.”

“I think for me, as a sporting director, I can’t just blame the past and say, “All these players are worthless. Let’s get rid of them.” No, I have to protect the club’s assets. What we were trying to do in our squad, with loans and partnerships with other clubs, was to try to find the best solutions for everyone.”

“We managed to generate over 160 million euros in revenue off selling players and if you look at the players we sold, maybe only Ibanez and Zaniolo were key players for us during this spell. All the other players were not key players, they were on loan or out of the squad.”

“When I first arrived, Roma were dealing with a situation with Edin Dzeko, one of the most important players in the club’s history. At that time we were in negotiations for him to leave. By bringing in Abraham we wanted to demonstrate once again that our project would be based on young players, but still maintaining the same ambition. The first season was fantastic. He has scored almost 30 goals, but Tammy is more than a scorer. If you look at the numbers, he has always been a guy who collects even 10 assists a season.”

“Dybala? I think we were very good at managing the times because at the end of the season or at the beginning of the transfer market, if we had gone to fight with the clubs that were interested, we wouldn’t have had the capacity to do it. So for some reasons, but I don’t want to mention the clubs in question, let’s say that “club A” was not able to conclude the deal at that time, “club B” was changing manager. So we understood the moment, now or never. We had a week to do this thing and during that week in Turin, I think we still worked very well as a team, with the ownership and coach fully involved.”

“Lukaku? I already knew his agent very well because we were talking about another player of his. And obviously whenever we talked about the other player, I always made jokes and asked him what would happen with Lukaku. I never said I wanted Lukaku, but I always knew what was happening.”

“One day I was with Ryan Friedkin, we were watching practice and this agent called me and I didn’t even say good morning to him. I said something like, “No, I don’t want Lukaku, mate! I don’t have the money for Lukaku and the guy was laughing and laughing and laughing. He said, “No, I’m not calling for Lukaku.” I think if three years ago I had asked a Roma fan if it was possible to have Dybala, Tammy, Lukaku and Mourinho in the same team, they would have called you crazy.”

On Roma’s fanbase, Pinto noted, “I think it’s fair to say that there aren’t many atmospheres like the ones you have here in Rome. The Friedkins brought back this unity between the city and the team.”

“A future in the Premier League? It’s the league everyone wants to be in; the players, coaches and managers. The Premier League is the best in the world. I would love to have that experience. Now or later. Now the most important thing is to feel again what I felt at Benfica and when I arrived at Roma. Alignment and commitment with the people of the club. After Roma I’m ready for anything.”

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MatchDay 37
19 May 20:45