Franck Ribery’s arrival at Salernitana was compared to Diego Maradona joining Napoli, but the veteran winger just wants to help the club retain their Serie A status.
It was confirmed on Monday that Ribery, 38, had signed a one-year contract at the Stadio Arechi. The deal will be extended for another year if the club achieve certain sporting objectives.
The former France international was a free agent after leaving Fiorentina, where he spent two seasons following the conclusion of a trophy-laden 12-year stint with Bayern Munich.
He will spend 2021-22 with Salernitana, who have started their first top-flight campaign in 23 years with back-to-back defeats against Bologna and Roma.
Salernitana sporting director Angelo Fabiani last week said Ribery could have the same impact on the club’s profile as Maradona did at Napoli.
Ribery was keen to steer clear of such hyperbole when presented to the media, though.
“I know the director compared my arrival to that of Maradona at Napoli, but I didn’t come here to talk about the titles that I won. When I’m on the field, the trophies I have lifted do not count,” said Ribery.
“I feel great and I am available to help Salernitana achieve safety. It’s important to find a rhythm immediately, but I am aware that training with the team is very different to personal preparation.
“I am a technical player, but I know the team matters and I have to help the younger players. My role in the locker room will have to be important. Communication makes the difference.
“My mentality is completely different. I need a little time, but starting from tomorrow [Tuesday] I will join the group and I spoke with the medical staff and the coach about getting me ready.
“The passion of the people here is incredible. I will never forget the crowd that was in the stadium for me. I still managed to get excited despite having played in the most prestigious stadiums in the world. It’s up to me to repay their trust.”
Si va avanti!
Un nuovo capitolo nella mia carriera, una nuova squadra, con la quale inizio un nuovo cammino. Grazie per la calorosa accoglienza qui a Salerno. Sono molto lieto, di poter giocare da ora in poi in serie A con la @OfficialUSS1919 . pic.twitter.com/9aVwgA7AsC
— Franck Ribéry (@FranckRibery) September 6, 2021
Ribery has made 50 appearances in Serie A, scoring five goals and registering nine assists. Ahead of 2021-22, he was one of only five players to have scored in each of the past 17 seasons in the top five European leagues.
The Frenchman completed 117 dribbles during his two seasons at Fiorentina. No player aged 30 or above at the end of the 2020-21 campaign had accumulated as many in the same time frame.
Fabiani added: “Ribery is an absolute phenomenon who has won everything in his career.
“I hope that Ribery’s arrival can help the team do something extraordinary.”
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