Salah ‘convinced’ Wijnaldum to join Roma

New Roma signing Georginio Wijnaldum admits Liverpool star Mohamed Salah was among the players who persuaded him to join the Giallorossi.

The ex-Liverpool and PSG midfielder was unveiled today at a press conference. The Giallorossi face Salernitana away in their Serie A opener on Sunday. Is he ready to start at the Stadio Arechi?

“I trained with PSG during the pre-season. Mentally I think I can play, but we always have to see how things go during the week with the team,” the ex-Liverpool midfielder said.

“It’s difficult to say if I can play. For myself, I can, but we need to talk to the physio and in the end, the manager makes the decision.”

Jurgen Klopp once referred to him as the ‘perfect midfielder’ so Wijnaldum was asked whether he sees himself in this description.

“It’s always difficult to say what’s the perfect midfielder,” the Netherlands international claimed.

“Maybe I was for Liverpool, but I understand that things can be different for another team. I think everyone has an opinion about what the perfect midfielder is, but if a manager like Klopp says it, of course, I am happy.

“I wanted to come because of the effort the club made to sign me and because I spoke to Mo Salah and Kevin Strootman about the club and the city and I only heard good stories about it.”

Salah spent two seasons in the capital between 2015 and 2017 and scored 34 goals in 83 appearances before a €42m to Anfield.

“I also spoke to Achraf Hakimi, even if he played for Inter, he said that Roma is a beautiful club. That convinced me a lot also because I knew the club,” Gini revealed.

“We played once with Liverpool and the atmosphere was amazing, I knew I’d play for a club with beautiful supporters, it was the only thing that I knew. What convinced me the most was the effort Tiago Pinto put in to sign me. I felt wanted and appreciated and that made me make the decision.”

What was José Mourinho’s role in his signing?

“We didn’t really have a conversation where he said ‘you have to come here’ because there was already negotiations between the clubs and I had already spoken with some players about it,” the midfielder admitted.

“When we spoke he thanked me because I wanted to come to Rome, we spoke about that and about football.

“Mourinho as a manager speaks for himself, the trophies he’s won and the club he’s coached. It’s unbelievable. Every player wants to work with him and so do I. From the moment I spoke to him, I knew I wanted to come, but I had already decided before.”

Does he see Serie A as a step backwards in his career?

“It’s difficult to say if Serie A is a step behind. I have to see. I think the Premier League is the most competitive league where I have played in, first I must play in Serie A and then give my opinion. It’s difficult to say now.

“I’ve joined a team with good players, I think my quality suits the team’s style, I can attack and defend, when I’m fit, I can do most parts of the game.”

What does he make of the new season where there will be a long winter break due to the World Cup?

“It’s always good to start the season well, but the most important thing is to grow during the season,” Wijnaldum said.

“You always face difficult situations, you win and lose games, players can get injured, and you might have to change the system. Consistency is more important and how you develop as a team. It will be more difficult because the World Cup is in the winter, but I don’t think it’s impossible.”

Roma unveiled their team for 2022-23 in front of 65,000 fans at the Stadio Olimpico on Sunday and the atmosphere captured the Giallorossi’s new signing.

“The atmosphere was special, the welcome was amazing, I am quite shy when it comes to these kinds of things and I am still amazed by what the fans did to me and my teammates, it was such a warm welcome,” he admitted.

“Also, the first day when I arrived, I went straight to dinner with the team, I met them [his teammates] in the restaurant and the players showed that they were happy I was here. It’s important to feel welcomed into the team. They didn’t know I’d come straight for dinner and were happy and in training, it was the same.”

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