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Roma’s Moreno happy as Mexican ambassador to Serie A

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Hector Moreno knows his move to AS Roma is a big deal for him, his club, and his country.

That may seem like a bit too much aggrandization, but Moreno joins the biggest club of his accomplished European career. That club nearly ended the scudetto reign of Juventus last season, coming as close as anyone in recent history.

And he’s the first Mexican to play for Roma, a club a bit higher in the pecking order than the homes for previous El Tri members in Serie A (Carlos Salcedo went on loan to Fiorentina last season, while Miguel Layun spent time at Atalanta and Rafa Marquez played three seasons at Verona).

[ MORE: Strootman loving life at Roma ]

“I know what people expect from me, and the people in Italy will look back at Mexico as a place to find good players if I do well,” Moreno told ProSoccerTalk ahead of the club’s second Stateside match of the International Champions Cup, Tuesday versus Tottenham Hotspur at Red Bull Arena.

“Football in Mexico is lived with so much passion. It’s so important.”

What they’ve seen from the 29-year-old center back gives them every reason to be proud. Moreno has won the Eredivisie with two clubs (AZ Alkmaar and PSV Eindhoven) and was Espanyol’s Player of the Year during his first of three campaigns in La Liga.

Moreno’s offensive acumen shone through his second stint in Holland, and the center back who also plays some left back scored seven goals last season.

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When Roma came calling, he had little hesitation.

“It’s something I have wanted my entire career, for an opportunity like this,” Moreno said. “It’s an amazing challenge to keep going forward in my career.”

Moreno captained El Tri in a 1-1 draw against the United States in World Cup qualifying on June 12, and the Roma signing was announced on June 13. Five days later, he was pushing Mexico over the line with a stoppage time goal against Portugal at the Confederations Cup.

[ MORE: Pallotta’s Roman vision ]

Again, this was about a statement for both him and his country, especially with Mexico in pole position to finish first in CONCACAF World Cup qualification and the desire to make it past the Round of 16 for the first time in seven tournaments.

“It was a great moment and the feeling was amazing because we fought so hard and we didn’t expect to lose,” Moreno said. “It looks easy to say but with Ronaldo, Ledesma, Pepe, at the end we got a result that we deserved.

“And this will probably help the team to know where we stand because in CONCACAF qualification for World Cup we are almost there and in all due respect it’s a different quality of play than CONCACAF. You can see where you stand and what you have to improve to be on the level. It is the dream forever that we can go to the fifth game, and we can do that in Russia. We’re going to work hard and I hope we can make it.”

[ MORE: Conte names Gary Cahill new Chelsea captain ]

It may surprise some to hear that Moreno also hopes El Tri’s heated rivals in the U.S. qualify for Russia as well.

“I hope so,” Moreno quickly replies. “It would make a good tournament. They always make it through and they have such a good team. It’s always (the hope) that Mexico and U.S. can meet in the World Cup, because they have such good talent as well.”

Roma faces Spurs in New Jersey on Tuesday before a July 30 battle with Juventus at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough.

Transfer Rumor Wrap: Liverpool rejects Barca bid for Coutinho, Roma offer for Mahrez turned down

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Liverpool isn’t planning on cashing in on one of the Premier League’s stars this summer.

Jurgen Klopp and Co. gave Barcelona a resolute “no” after Barcelona submitted a transfer bid of more than $93 million for Philippe Coutinho. Coutinho signed a new five-year contract with the club in January.

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“The main thing I think about is how we can make the next step with the players we had last season,” Klopp told reporters in Hong Kong earlier this week. “The good news is that actually we didn’t lose – and we will not lose – a player we want to keep this summer. That’s the best news actually and then we’ll see who can bring into the squad.”

Coutinho signed for Liverpool in 2013 but had a breakout year in 2015-2016, earning the PFA Young Player of the Year. Last year Coutinho became an even more consistent goal-scorer and playmaker, scoring 13 goals with seven assists in 34 Premier League appearances.

Keeping Coutinho is of supreme importance for Liverpool, which is back in the UEFA Champions League for the first time since the 2014-2015 season.

(more…)

Totti ready to begin new role in Roma management

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ROME (AP) Recently retired Roma captain Francesco Totti is ready to begin his new role working in the club’s management, without any specific role for now.

Totti tells Roma’s website, “I want to be everything and nothing. I want to be an important person for Roma, and Roma really understand that’s what I want to do.”

[ MORE: West Ham, WBA, NUFC close in on new blood ]

Totti plans to work with Roma’s new sporting director, Monchi, coach Eusebio Di Francesco and even club president James Pallotta.

Totti, who ended his 25-year playing career with his hometown club in May, says he will work with everyone “from the youth sector to the president. Then it is normal that it will take a while – six months, a year, two years, I don’t know – to truly find my real and best role.”

Report: Nainggolan close to Roma extension

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Just a day after Roma president James Palotta told the media that Radja Nainggolan isn’t for sale, he’s ready to put his money where his mouth is.

According to a report by FootballItalia, Roma is close to finalizing a deal that will keep Nainggolan in the Italian capital, helping ward off links to other big European clubs like Manchester United, Inter, Chelsea, and others.

[ MORE: Man City signs 19-year-old Brazilian ]

The 29-year-old Belgian has become a Serie A star since moving to Roma from Cagliari in 2014. He appeared in all but one of Roma’s league matches last season, rated by Squawka Statistics as the fourth-best midfielder in the league. “Nainggolan and Manolas will stay with us, they are not moving from Roma,” Pallotta said on Friday with Roma in the United States for a preseason tour.

Nainggolan has said multiple times this summer that he desires to stay at Roma, but still the links persist. The most natural connection would be to Manchester United where the Red Devils are desperately looking for a midfield anchor. Tiemoue Bakayoko signed for Chelsea earlier today, Eric Dier looks to be an expensive buy, and the Blues have reportedly given United a cold shoulder on Nemanja Matic after the latter snatched Romelu Lukaku.

Report: AS Roma contacts Mahrez’s agent

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Last week, Leicester City boss Craig Shakespeare said the club had yet to receive a bid for want-away attacker Riyad Mahrez and it seems that is about to change.

Sky Sports Italy reports that AS Roma has reached out to Mahrez’s representation in the hopes of luring the Algerian star to the Stadio Olimpico.

[ MORE: Atleti dodges ban to land Vitolo ]

Roma finished second in Serie A last season, four points shy of Juventus in the scudetto race. Their 90 goals scored was second in the league by 13 goals (Napoli led the way with 94).

I Lupi has already added Maxime Gonalons and Hector Moreno this offseason.

Mahrez would be an ideal fit for Serie A and would still get the Champions League experience he desires. If Roma can meet his wages, it seems like a probable destination for him.