Hello Romeo and thanks for this interview. I will now ask you some questions, some serious some less… buckle up! It’s going to be fun!
First of all… are you a Juventus fan or you just follow this team for professional reasons?
I must be honest… don’t ask my why but my first football passion was for Vicenza. Or better… I fell in love with this sport following players like Gabriele Ambrosetti who, still now, is my biggest idol. When I was child and was collecting football stickers, the ones I liked the most were the red & white ones from Vicenza. A team, coached at that time by Guidolin, who remained in my mind. How to forget that European semifinal at Stamford Bridge, Luiso’s goal and much more https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D1Im1kgTveY
Having said this, my family members are mainly Juventus fans and the first time I watched a live game at the Stadium was in 1996-97 at the Delle Alpi against Fiorentina (if I’m not wrong Padovano scored). We are all fans then obviously, if you are a journalist, the inevitable professional detachment must take over otherwise, for how I see it, you can’t do this job.
Many fans consider Romeo Agresti one of the most authoritative sources (if not the most authoritative) for what concern the Juventus transfer news. What are your best qualities and where you should / would you like to improve?
I have a huge passion for this job. And I think this is my main strength. I had the privilege of turning a passion into a profession, I am lucky and I realize it every day. It is not up to me to say what my strengths are, while on the aspects to be improved I could talk for hours. Sometimes I would like to be less calculating and more instinctive, because I believe that a little healthy unconsciousness can make you make it even better. Instead, from this point of view, I am too reflective.
What are your three favorite stadiums?
No need to explain: Wembley, Santiago Bernabeu and Camp Nou.
The last transfer market session was more than ever experienced as a roller coaster by Juve fans. Everyone now understands the importance of meeting financial as well as sporting goals but there is certainly some doubt about the management of some players. Tell us what you think about the following issues:
Higuain and Dybala were offered to numerous teams and the first seemed to be out of the project. To date, Higuain and Dybala turned out to be the best players of the new season in progress, not surprisingly awarded as MVP in September and October. Did it go well or what?
It definitely went well. It is no mystery that Juve tried to sell both Dybala and Higuain. There is not much to say to be honest, except to underline how luck – in these two cases – has played a fundamental part. I think a general chaos reigned in the final stages of the last summer session. At one point it seemed that almost everyone was on the market, a clear sign of how certain planned deals did not go through. In hindsight, I repeat, fortunately.
Mandzukic. Contract renewed in April until 2021, out of squad in July. From hero to waste. Is there only the coaching change behind this decision or something else? Does it deserve everything that’s happening right now?
I honestly think that both sides could have dealt with each other more clearly. The last renewal, if we look at it now, is inexplicable. Just as, however, it is hardly understandable that Mandzukic refused first Manchester United and then PSG. Beyond what you think, I believe that the Croatian gave a lot to Juve. At the same time, Juventus gave a lot to him in return. And for this reason I am surprised that we have arrived at a point of no return. And here, I come back to my previous point, I think the confusion of the last part of the transfer market heavily influences the story.
Pellegrini. Arrived with great fanfare and immediately sent back on loan to Cagliari despite the fact that we only had Alex Sandro on the left with De Sciglio who never guaranteed continuity also because of his numerous injuries. The risk is to be forced to buy someone in January unless you want to get into the topical phase of the season with Alex Sandro running out of batteries. Don’t you think this was a gamble?
No, on Pellegrini I agree with the choice of the Club. Had he remained in Turin, he could not have matured the presences he is achieving in Cagliari. At the moment, considering Alex Sandro’s good moon, you can dab by putting De Sciglio – and if necessary Danilo – on the left back. It is useless to take a talent and relegate him to the bench. Then, clearly, on the reliability of De Sciglio and Danilo we should open a separate chapter.
Demiral. Few minutes played at Juventus but he seems to have already won the hearts of many fans for his determination and his being the “new Montero”. Why isn’t he currently having a lot of space? Did his recent political gesture made an impact in the decisional process of the Club? Do you think he will remain also in the second part of the season or will he be sold (on loan or definitively) in the January market session?
I do not think the military salute weighed, I believe that Sarri honestly described the picture well: back there, considering the new playing style and the premature Chiellini’s injury, we chose to focus mainly on the same four trying to find the right harmony between Bonucci and De Ligt. Clear, in the eyes of the fan it may seem incomprehensible that Rugani has played more than Demiral so far, but we must not forget how the number 24 knows his coach very well, to the point of being thrown by him in Empoli. Here, beyond the conjectures, I see simple technical choices.
What’s cooking for January? Do you think there could be a big shot at Juventus? Will Mandzukic and Can leave? Will Pogba arrive? If not him … who?
In January, at most, Juve could take some chances. Some luxury redundancies. And there are. I think the focus will shift to finding a team for Mandzukic. If Emre Can had to press to leave, I think he would be satisfied. I don’t see big chances for Pogba or any other big name in the January window. Good deals can always happen, always considering the problem related to the Champions list.
Ronaldo still has a two and a half year contract with Juventus. Do you think he will remain until the end of the contract or will he leave sooner? And what will Juventus be like after Ronaldo?
I don’t see a thoughtful Ronaldo. You will see a Ronaldo who – until the end – will try to achieve the objective of the objectives: the Champions League with Juventus. We must also consider how this extraordinary champion earns 31 million euros net in Turin and, among the teams that count in the world, I don’t see great possibilities for him to earn – not being a kid anymore – similar figures elsewhere. Juventus has made a choice that goes beyond the football aspect and, when in the future CR7 will say goodbye, the new appeal will allow them to buy another profile close to its caliber and certainly younger.
The competition to get hold of a starting spot is considerable. How do you think the situation is in the locker room? Is it really as idyllic as it seems or is there some discontent to “monitor”?
I have never known a player happy not to take the field. At Juve the rules are clear: and everyone respects them. Not living in the locker room I can’t tell you what the global mood is, but when no discontents leak out it is always a very good signal in terms of union and concentration.
With the departure of Marotta and the new corporate structure in Juve, what has changed for you? Is it easier or more difficult to interact directly with Juventus?
I believe that Marotta represents much more than just a manager. He can do everything very well. He personally manages a market operation, so he is able to defuse strong fires with his diplomacy. It is a point of reference both for the club and for the players, a decent and highly professional man. Now, without him, the various areas have simply been distributed to profiles that have taken on more responsibility. Now there is a different way to think and act, but the backbone of the club didn’t change.
Tell us about Sarri. What do you think of his first months at Juventus?
I did not think Sarri could implement such a substantial turnover. And that means that, in the clubs he coached previously, he simply didn’t trust the so-called second lines. At Juventus, on the other hand, he understood how the rotations are necessary to arrive in the best way at the end of the season. The results, at the moment, are on his side. And we know very well that without them Juventus won’t go anywhere. But I await a collective evolution. And here, for me, everything will depend on how Douglas Costa and Ramsey will grow. Otherwise, with the current characteristics of the squad, it seems complicated to be able to think of seeing something different than in the past.
Buffon made a year at PSG before returning to Juventus. While acknowledging the immense value of Gigi who will remain forever a Juventus legend, do you think something changed in the eyes of the fans? Perhaps a bit more coldness towards him?
Yes, a little something has changed. Not the affection for the strongest goalkeeper in history, but the transition to PSG inevitably led to seeing a great love story from another angle. Having said that, I believe that – as a great professional – Gigi did well to try the adventure in France. In global terms I was surprised by the return to Juve. Because, if your name is Buffon and you have literally dominated Juventus, to return and play as second GK is a sign of considerable humility. It would not surprise me if he will renews, also because he is objectively playing well at the moment. If he accepts the position of second GK, and it seems so to me, why should he hang up his gloves? Go ahead and continue to have fun regardless the age in the ID.
Now tell us the truth. What happened in the half time at Cardiff?
I do not presume to be able to say what happened in Cardiff. But I believe that, in general, the story has been enormously exaggerated. That second half remains inexplicable, but Real Madrid simply proved to be stronger. And we must accept it. It’s part of the game. On the contrary, I believe that Juventus has arrived at that final underestimating the opponent who then continued to consolidate its European hegemony. Just look at the substitutions for that game. They got Bale, we got Lemina.
For one day you are Paratici and you have the opportunity to buy an Italian player for Juventus. Only one, and you have no budget limits. Who do you buy?
I take Nicolò Zaniolo from Roma because for me he is already a wonderful player.
What do you think about the atmosphere at the stadium? Do you think the players suffer from the “silence” that now reigns almost sovereign? If you had the power to make a decision about it, what would you propose to improve the situation?
It is a strange, ugly situation. A warm environment helps you, pushes you, it also erases your fatigue. As we realize the atmosphere, the first to notice it are the players themselves, who even at home they feel like they are playing away. I don’t know what the right solution could be, also because overall it is still a story to be clarified, but I personally do not like a curva-theater, not at all. And, with respectable people in the name of maximum legality, I hope that a healthy and incessant support will come back.
Let’s talk about your future. How do you see yourself in 5 years? What kind of career would you like to do?
I’d like to work for a club. In the past I had the opportunity to work in two clubs belonging, at the time, to the women’s volleyball Serie A. I first managed the communication of the Giaveno and then that of the Ornavasso. Two beautiful educational experiences. One day I would like to repeat a similar adventure in a football context.
Why is Del Piero one of the few Juventus legends of the last 20 years that does not yet have an active role in the Club?
Because his farewell to Juventus was one of the most complicated (between the said and unsaid).
What was your best transfer market blow? And what was your biggest mistake?
I do not believe that there are better blows, there is only one trying to do the best work. I am, however, particularly fond of how I followed Pirlo’s arrival at Juve, because I was given great confidence by my old boss, Luca Momblano, when we worked together with Calcio Gp. Biggest error? Draxler. I announced him, I was wrong. But it was not the only mistake, let alone, I committed it and I will continue to commit it in the future. This is what is beautiful, or ugly, about the transfer market. Let’s say that overall, reducing mistakes is the real goal. Because in this world everything can change quickly.
Has there ever been any news that you had in advance and that you regretted never giving or having given it later than others? If so, which one?
Bonucci’s return. I knew it for a long time, having spoken – by pure chance – with a person involved. But in order to respect the source, I even waited until it was announced by others. Relationships are sometimes important. And they must be protected.
It’s a great evening in Ibiza. Many friends around, many clubs to go. How many beers would you drink on such nights?
I’ve grown old now! In the past I used to give shows in Ibiza, now I have to manage the situation, just like Khedira. Let’s say that with a cerveza in my hands I become more technical than Cancelo and faster than Krasic. A nice mix, right?
Who will win the Serie A and the Champions League?
Juventus will win Serie A. About Champions League I have no idea, because I don’t see a favorite at the moment. Yes, we could mention the usual Liverpool or the other big teams like Barcelona, Real Madrid and so on… but I believe that never like this season a new competition will start with the knock-out games. Whoever arrives at that stage with more fuel and ideas, can make a difference. Just like what happened to the Liverpool last season.
Will you be in Saudi Arabia for the Italian Super Cup?
I’m waiting for the editorial designations, generally I have the privilege to follow all the great events.
In which area of the stadium would you like to see the games if you don’t have to go there for work?
In Curva, of course. In basketball, for example, I support Cantù. Do you have any idea what it means to attend their Curva? Passion and aggregation. This is why I would like to see a more participatory stadium, because a passionate audience can truly be the 12th man on the pitch.
Tell us in a funny or embarrassing episode that happened to you at the stadium.
In May, coming out of one of the elevators of the Stadium, I literally clashed with Claudia Schiffer. A dream come true.
Where can Juventus fans follow you on social networks?
Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and now also on Youtube. In short, it’s impossible not to find me!