Daniele De Rossi described how growing up watching a Diego Maradona-inspired Napoli team helped him make the switch to Argentina giants Boca Juniors.
Former Roma and Italy international De Rossi was officially presented as a Boca player on Monday in Buenos Aires.
After 18 years playing for Roma, De Rossi arrived last week to join the Argentine Primera Division heavyweights on a one-year deal.
De Rossi said the influence of Argentina legend Maradona and Nicolas Burdisso, a former team-mate at Roma and now Boca’s sports director, convinced him to sign for last season’s Copa Libertadores runners-up.
“What can I give here? I don’t know. I hope to give something to my team, to give something to my team-mates,” said the 36-year-old midfielder.
“Also, my goal is to be able to give them what I could give to the AS Roma team. I don’t come here to deliver heroic things, to achieve the goals like (Diego) Maradona and (Lionel) Messi.
“I come here to be a soccer player. I won’t add too much to Argentine soccer but I am sure that when I am in good shape, I will give something important to my team.”
Daniele De Rossi says he joined Boca Juniors as it was an experience he could not do without and believes the club offers the same level of “madness” he enjoyed at Roma.
The 36-year-old made the surprise move to Argentina after his 18-year stay in the Italian capital came to an end.
De Rossi had been expected to follow the lead of fellow Giallorossi great Francesco Totti, who retired as a one-club man at the end of the 2017 season, but instead decided to embark on a new challenge in Buenos Aires.
“Every player should enjoy what I’m feeling right now, because if you love playing football, you can’t do without an experience like this,” De Rossi explained at a press conference presenting him to the media, as reported by Football Italia.
“I grew up in the years just after Diego Maradona’s Napoli. You can’t help but fall in love with a player like that, so he got me interested in Boca and then my focus moved on to the madness of being here.
“I lived in an environment of madness at Roma, fans who live football 24 hours a day. I might’ve been a more relaxed person playing somewhere else, but that’s just what I’m like.
"Estoy muy feliz de estar acá" | Daniele De Rossi fue presentado este lunes en conferencia de prensa y brindó sus primeras palabras como jugador Xeneize.— Boca Jrs. Oficial (@BocaJrsOficial) July 29, 2019
👉 https://t.co/yUNjUqBHjK pic.twitter.com/pUVAYLuk2b
“I chose Boca because whatever happens this season, I will be enriched as a person and my family will feel that way too.”
De Rossi, who made over 600 appearances for Roma and racked up 117 Italy caps, links up with former Roma team-mate Nicolas Burdisso – Boca’s club director.
The midfielder is determined to make his mark in the Argentinian capital and believes he can help deliver silverware.
“Burdisso told me so much about Boca. If you’re not in the stadium, you can’t understand what it’s like to be a part of it,” De Rossi added.
“This is spectacular, of course, but on top of the affection, I also found a club that is well run and reliable.
“The fans are just incredible. The only way I can thank them is to do my job and that’s extra motivation. I am here as a football player and that’s a great responsibility.
“Once the news of my Roma departure was official, Burdisso started calling and he really wanted to bring me here. I said yes immediately, but then had to think about it, because such a big change was frightening.
“I know he’d never take me somewhere that would make me unhappy. I don’t need anyone to promise me some sci-fi scenario. I need reliable people, as I just want to play football. It’s important that here they live football 24 hours a day, the way I do. I don’t want to be somewhere that switches me off.
“My objectives are the same as Boca, to win the Libertadores and everything else. I am here to help.”
The 2019 summer transfer window is a seller’s market.
Bloated fees have left clubs at bursting point in their attempts to finance crucial deals as teams see opportunity to cash in on their assets with the market gone wild.
The result is a change in perception of what is considered cheap and expensive as €30m has become the new €50m. There have been some standout signings, both over and underpriced, though.
We looked at four overpriced players first, now it’s time for the underpriced stars, but bear in mind loan deals and free signings aren’t up for consideration in this series.
Kostas Manolas €36m | Roma-Napoli
Roma’s failure to qualify for the Champions League this season means their hands have been tied by Financial Fair Play constraints.
To comply, assets had to be stripped and one of the biggest was Kostas Manolas.
Napoli paid up the Greek’s release clause, partnering one of Serie A’s finest centre-backs with another in the form of Kalidou Koulibaly.
Considering the tier Manolas sits in and the dearth of high-quality centre-backs around Europe, the fee is cheap.
In Manolas, Napoli have acquired a player who is absolutely electric and can genuinely claim to be one of the fastest defenders in Europe.
After all, there’s a reason he’s called ‘Greece Lightning’. The 28-year-old has the ability to cover vacated space in the channels as if a bolt has struck the pitch, just zipping into position before zapping the ball away.
Carlo Ancelotti’s remit is to win a major trophy in 2019/20 and the bedrock of their success could be cemented by signing a Greek cornerstone.
Julian Brandt €25m | Bayer Leverkusen-Borussia Dortmund
Take away the Mats Hummels and Paco Alcacer deals, and any one of Dortmund’s other summer buys could have featured after the Christian Pulisic money, plus change, was wisely reinvested into acquiring Thorgan Hazard, Julian Brandt and Nico Schulz.
Brandt is surely the highlight, though. The Germany international further developed his unique ‘Brandt’ of attacking qualities at the Bayer Leverkusen talent factory, embracing and thriving in multiple positions last season.
According to Whoscored.com, he was deployed in six different roles in 2018/19, although Peter Bosz made the bold move to shift him into a deeper midfield slot for the large part having pretty much lived out his career as a winger.
Brandt was outstanding, scoring seven goals and assisting a further 11. The 23-year-old, alongside his former team-mate Kai Havertz, represents the present and future of German football. He’ll likely feature in a double pivot with Axel Witsel in Lucien Favre’s 4-2-3-1, but Brandt can also provide cover for both Hazard and Jadon Sancho, he could even partner Marco Reus in a 4-1-4-1.
He’s young, fast, dynamic, can pass and shoot plus play in various positions – that’s a lot packaged into a €25m purchase.
Nabil Fekir €19.75m | Lyon-Real Betis
Jean-Michel Aulas has a reputation for being a tough negotiator, yet that seems rather misguided on the basis of some key Lyon sales.
Samuel Umtiti (€25m), Corentin Tolisso (€41.5m), Alexandre Lacazette (€53m) and now Nabil Fekir have all been sold for amounts below their true worth.
There’s the mitigating factors of Fekir entering the final year of his contract and the fact Liverpool pulled out of a deal last year because of concerns over an historic knee injury.
But the Reds were willing to pay €60m for the World Cup winner just a year ago and 12 months on his price plummeted without his talent doing the same.
Fekir is premier No10, his record of 69 goals and 46 assists in 193 run-outs for Lyon reflects that.
He’s the type of player who can create space for others through his quick movement, and unlock it for himself with quality control of the ball. Indeed, Fekir is a four-pronged attacker, one able to score, create, dribble and provide a genuine threat from set-pieces.
The 26-year-old can drop in and drive forward or arrive late to finish chances with conviction. There are not too many players of his ilk in world football and yet he has cost Betis a snip.
Okay, the Basque side had to sign his unheralded brother as well, and the deal with Lyon contained a 20 per cent sell-on clause, but the initial outlay is remarkably cheap.
Alexander Isak €6.5m | Borussia Dortmund-Real Sociedad
First it’s important to preface that there are strong reports Dortmund have wisely included a buy-back clause, but still €6.5m for Isak is an absurdly good piece of business for Sociedad.
The Swede has been likened to Zlatan Ibrahimovic, mainly because he’s a tall striker and Swedish, but the two are not alike.
Isak is altruistic and more of a team player, but he is an archetypal modern striker, a complete forward who can drop in to drive the build-up phase with a devastating right-foot to finish off attacks.
He was strongly linked with a move to Real Madrid before maturely deciding on Dortmund, yet his career stalled in Germany before a loan move to Willem II last season witnessed an explosion of his talent.
In Isak’s opening 12 league games after joining the Eredivisie side on a January loan, the 19-year-old recorded 12 goals.
He was outstanding beyond the goals as well, silky smooth on the ball and intelligent off it.
Suffice to say, he’s one of the more impressive young strikers in Europe and next season, he’ll be spearheading an attacking contingent which contains Martin Odegaard, Mikel Oyarzabal and Adnan Januzaj, handing him a prime opportunity to further his glowing reputation and make the fee look very conservative.