Defrel: ‘I’ll give my all’

Gregoire Defrel promises “I’ll give my all” after completing his move from Sassuolo to Roma.

It was officially confirmed this afternoon that the forward has joined on a €5m loan, with a €15m obligation to buy next summer; as well as a potential €3m in bonuses.

“It means a lot to me to be able to play for Roma,” Defrel told Roma TV.

“I’m going to be part of a very strong group, one of the best teams in Italy. I’m delighted to be here and I’ll give my all for the team.

“My agent told me in January that Roma were interested in me. I spoke to Sassuolo and the Coach [Eusebio Di Francesco, now at Roma] and ended up staying with the Neroverdi for another six months.

“I was a bit disappointed not to join Roma because it was a huge opportunity for me, but I didn’t panic.

“I promised myself that I’d have another great six months at Sassuolo and hoped the chance would come around again at the end of the season.

“When my agent told me that Roma were still interested this summer, I was really pleased and said yes straight away.”

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Pallotta: ‘Roma stadium in 10 days’

Roma President James Pallotta expects final approval on the new stadium within 10 days and “we’ll break ground in February or March”.

The Giallorossi have been attempting to get the Stadio della Roma project off the ground for some time, and have already won approval from the city.

However, they must also be given approval from the Lazio region and the club’s patron expects that to arrive shortly.

“There are only four teams right now I think who have their own stadium, and we should have approval within 10 days or so,” Pallotta said at the Serie A roadshow in New York, attended by Football Italia’s Matthew Santangelo.

“We should get final approval, and we’ll break ground in February or March, it’ll be about 55,000 seats plus over 200,000 square feet of entertainment space.

“We’re on a 200-acre spot, 15 minutes from downtown, 15 minutes from the airport, on the river on which we’ll build docks so you can come in from the city or the airport, [we’re] inside the ring road and [there are] two train lines.

“So all of that is just things we’re trying to do to create a global brand, but we need the stadium.“

Pallotta also discussed Francesco Totti, who has retired from football to become a director with the club.

“Francesco, for those of you who don’t know really started playing at 11-years-old, and his first game at Roma was at the age of 16.

“So, for 30-plus years all he’s done is bend down, put on his cleats and gone out on the pitch. So this is the big change for him.

“We had his retirement party back about two months ago and Francesco and I have had long conversations over the past year about his role.

“At the end of the day he did an interview on Roma TV and he essentially said ‘I’m no longer Francesco Totti, I’m now Roma’.

“So whatever we need from him he’s said that he’ll be part of Roma forever.

“The interesting thing about that [his retirement] is that the it’s the last game of the year, we’re playing Genoa, we’re one point ahead of Napoli.

“Napoli is blowing out their competition, we go down 1-0 and it’s supposed to be Francesco’s retirement party and we needed that game to be in the Champions League.

“We go up 2-1, and I think with 15 minutes left Genoa scores to tie it up. Now, I don’t have a seat at the stadium, I literally stand. I might be the only owner who stands.

“I couldn’t even watch this game in the stadium and stand up, in the second half I went down to the Coach’s room and Genoa scored to tie it 2-2 and I actually just got a bill through from CONI because I picked up a chair and put it through the wall.

“Then [Diego] Perotti without about two minutes left kicked it in and that got us into the Champions League again, so I actually thought that was probably more exciting, at least for me.”

The event was designed to promote the profile of Serie A, and Pallotta believes there’s a lot of potential to be exploited.

“Most people don’t realise how big it is in the rest of the world,” the Roma President said.

“I’ll give you an example of it when it comes to Roma: we found a fan club in Saudi Arabia that was an existing fan club.

“Does anyone want to guess how many members? 800,000. Mailing addresses, email addresses: 800,000.

“When we took our youth team, Primavera team, to Vietnam 6,000 people showed up at the airport and 20,000 were in the stands. For our Under-19 team.

“When we went to Indonesia, along the road from the airport to the stadium it was was just lined with people, and when you go into the stadium they have their own Curva Sud.

“Amazingly for the whole two hours they sang Roma songs, two hours straight. In Italian.

“So you know it’s a huge worldwide product, it’s just  hasn’t been distributed in the way it deserves.”


Defrel arrives for Roma

Gregoire Defrel has arrived at Trigoria to complete his move to Roma – “I can’t wait to get started”.

The Sassuolo forward is on the verge of reuniting with Coach Eusebio Di Francesco, and is expected to take his medical tomorrow.

Assuming there are no problems flagged-up in those tests, he will officially sign for the Giallorossi before heading out to join his new teammates in the USA on their pre-season tour.

“I’m very happy with this new adventure,” Defrel told fans and reporters as he arrived at Trigoria.

“I can’t wait to get started”.


Lucas: Lazio a great club

Lucas Leiva believes he has joined “a great club” in Lazio, but former Liverpool teammate John Arne Riise disagrees.

Lucas completed a transfer to Lazio on Tuesday after 10 years at Liverpool and wasted no time in getting started as he began training with his new colleagues at their training camp in Auronzo di Cadore.

“I’m ready and very excited for this new challenge,” the midfielder [pictured, right] told Premium Sport.

“I chose Lazio because they’re a great club, with a good reputation and fantastic fans.”

However, Riise – who played with Lucas at Anfield during the 2007-08 campaign – felt the Brazilian “picked the wrong club in Rome”, given his past affiliation with Roma.

“Good luck @LucasLeiva87, can’t wait to follow you in Italy,” he tweeted.

“Shame you picked the wrong club in Rome though! Forza @OfficialASRoma.”

Image courtesy @OfficialSSLazio via Twitter


Roma hold Toljan talks?

Roma have reportedly held talks about signing Hoffenheim and Germany Under-21 left-back Jeremy Toljan.

According to Gianluca Di Marzio’s official website, Toljan is the third left-back that Roma are checking out after Antonio Barreca and Aleksandar Kolarov.

However, the 22-year-old seems to have quickly moved to the top of the Giallorossi’s list as they “had a meeting” to discuss his arrival.

Toljan recently helped Germany win the European U21 Championship and had been linked with the likes of Napoli and Antonio Conte’s Chelsea.