Roma midfield duo Kevin Strootman and Leandro Paredes are better than new Juventus signing Miralem Pjanic, according to Luciano Spalletti.
Bosnia-Herzegovina international Pjanic joined the Serie A champions from Roma in July for a €32million fee, after impressing during a five-year spell at the Stadio Olimpico.
But head coach Spalletti is confident that his side can cope comfortably with the loss of the 26-year-old, given Strootman is now fully fit once more and Paredes is back at the club following a loan spell with Empoli.
“I don’t feel that we are missing something in midfield,” he said ahead of Roma’s Serie A opener against Udinese. “We have Strootman instead of him and I think the Dutchman is stronger. Even Paredes is better than Pjanic.
“Gerson also has great quality and will be important when he adjusts to our style of football. With the arrival of Bruno Peres too, we can also utilise [Alessandro] Florenzi in midfield too, so we aren’t worried about our options there at all.”
Spalletti went on to deny that Wojciech Szczesny has lost his place in the side permanently to Alisson, after the Brazilian started the 1-1 Champions League play-off draw with Porto.
“No, I chose Alisson because Szczesny hadn’t trained much,” he said. “Szczesny is one of those who deserved to play in a game like the Porto one because of what he did last season.
“‘There has to be one goalkeeper, who has the starting shirt’ – why is that accepted? We’re in a new world, things have changed. I make my decisions, even if they’re wrong, and I base them on the players.”
Roma begin their league campaign with a handful of injury concerns, with Spalletti confirming that Vasilis Torosidis and Alessandro Florenzi are out with respective thigh and calf problems. Antonio Rudiger, Mario Rui and Nura Abdullahi are also short of fitness.
Spalletti, however, wants his side to start the season as strongly as possible as they look to sustain a challenge for the title.
“They’re good,” he said of Udinese. “They sign these little phenomena who can play in a lot of roles.
“All we are thinking about is winning every game we play. We know we will be involved in a challenge with Juventus, Napoli, AC Milan, Inter and Fiorentina.
“We know that we are a strong team and we have to start on the right foot and hit the ground running. That’s important.”