Roma to play ‘Barcelona brand’ football: Enrique

Rome: AS Roma will start a new era by playing the “Barcelona brand” of football, the Serie A club`s new coach Luis Enrique told reporters at his official presentation on Thursday.

The Spaniard, who previously coached Barcelona B before taking over from Vincenzo Montella last month, said his focus was to build a young side at the Italian club built on `values`.

“When I spoke to the directors during contract negotiations, they told me the idea was to have an attractive side,” he told reporters. “We`ll see after a few months if we`ve achieved this but I don`t know another way of playing.”

The former Real Madrid and Barcelona player, whose hand-picked backroom staff includes former team mate and Lazio player Ivan de la Pena, shunned comparisons with Barca coach Pep Guardiola despite admitting the new Roma would be built close to the image of Barcelona.

“Guardiola is one of the best coaches in the world,” he said. “He coaches close to the players – almost on the pitch. I`m just starting my career at Roma and am very far from his achievements.

“My own style is like Barcelona`s but not exactly the same. I can`t play 4-3-3 if players can`t pass the ball but Roma players can. I want us to keep the ball so our opponents suffer. That seems like Barcelona but it`s not quite the same.”

Roma, who will play in the Europa League this season after finishing a disappointing sixth in Serie A, one place below arch rivals Lazio, have lost French centreback Philippe Mexes to champions AC Milan and Norwegian defender John Arne Riise to Premier League Fulham.

They have so far brought in teenage Argentine forward Erik Lamela with Barcelona starlet Bojan Krkic and Sporting Gijon left-back Jose Angel also expected to arrive.

Enrique expects further investment from Thomas Di Benedetto, the United States businessman whose consortium have a 60 percent stake in the club following a takeover.

“We don`t have a complete squad, so I can`t say what are expectations are for the season,” said the 41-year-old who was questioned on bringing players to Italy from the Spanish league.

“We are trying to bring players in but we need to have different options. [Sporting manager, Walter] Sabatini is working on this. When players come here, they are not Spanish or Argentines – they are Romans.”

Exciting French winger Jeremy Menez, recently linked to Olympique Marseille, looks destined to move away, but Mirko Vucinic, another forward criticised by fans last season for his attitude, could still be part of Enrique`s plans.

“I coach. It`s up to Sabatini to make a decision on Vucinic,” he said.

After years of uncertainty over the future of debt-ridden Roma, the new ownership has sparked renewed hope among fans but Di Benedetto said it would take time to build Roma into serious title contenders again.

“The talent we are bringing to Rome is high but some players are very young and hopefully the more experienced will set an example,” he told reporters.

“Like a new child you love, you have to understand that they may not be quite ready. As the saying goes, Rome wasn`t built in a day.”

Bureau Report

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