Last summer Roma spent big on Gerson to prise him away from Fluminense, much to the disappointment of Barcelona, but the Brazilian has taken time to settle in at the Giallorossi. After a slow first few months during which he primarily featured in the Europa League, he was given a chance by Luciano Spalletti to start last weekend’s game against Juventus but lasted just 45 minutes. In an interview with Globoesporte, Gerson says that he doesn’t believe he has made the wrong choice in joining Roma and is confident about his future with the Giallorossi.
I don’t believe this has been a wasted opportunity. I’ve played 11 games for Roma, but I know I’ve got a lot more to offer the club and that I’ll have more chances in the future. I’m working hard to make this happen, that’s no secret, and I’ll keep working hard to get more chances.
The comparisons with Pogba started when I was just breaking through at Fluminense. I took it as a compliment, he’s a great player. But I’m Gerson. I have my own style of playing. Originally I played as a playmaker. In Brazilian football, I was the classic number 10, the attacking midfielder, the player who would dictate the play and come from deep to score goals. But I’m versatile and can play in other positions in midfield as well. Against Astra, I was basically playing as a volante, which has different responsibilities in Europe compared to Brazil. You’re more involved in the game. I enjoyed it as well – it’s all about learning how to be adaptable.
The guys I admire most in world football are Totti and De Rossi, these guys have been with the same team for years, they’re legends. I watched Totti play when I was just a kid in Baixada Fluminense in Rio de Janeiro. Now I’m playing with him. He always gives confidence to the youngest players in the group. He’s an example for thousands of people around the world, including me.
You started in the Europa League against Astra, alongside Totti, and were complimented for your performance by Spalletti. He said you commanded the play for Roma. What does he ask you to do on the pitch?
He always asks me to go out fully focused and play my own game. Of course I have my own responsibilities, but I’d rather not comment on the team’s tactics. But I can say that he’s always told me to feel relaxed when I’m going out onto the pitch and to play my own game.
Juventus look much better than everyone else in Italy, but Roma have finished 2nd twice in the last 3 years. What is the team missing to make that last step up?
We have a very strong team. Juventus are very cohesive as a group. We are a very attacking side and try not to lose our shape in defence. We always go out thinking positively, aware how big Roma are as a club, and aim to win titles. Juventus are very strong, but we aren’t inferior to them. We have a winning team here and we know what we want to achieve. You can be sure that we’ll do everything to avoid history repeating itself again.
What’s it like playing alongside Totti, one of your childhood heroes?
Totti is a phenomenal guy. Having a guy like him as a team-mate is a privilege. He always talks to you. He gives you advice about the city, about football, everything – it’s a daily lesson being around him.
And how are you adapting off the pitch? Do you like Rome?
I really like the city. I’m still learning about it, but I’ve hardly left the house after all the training sessions. I like being at home. My partner and daughter are with me here. I’m still adapting to Italy and to the club, but I’m very much at home with my family and my daughter Giovanna. My dad comes across every month as well, which has made it easier for me to settle in.
You arrived in January and then came back to Brazil for 6 months. Why didn’t you stay in Italy, playing for another team?
I couldn’t at the start because they’d already exceeded their quota of signing non-EU players, so I would have only been able to train. I wanted to play competitively. So we talked about it and I was loaned back to Flu to keep my match sharpness and help the club who brought me through their academy to win titles. Fortunately, we managed to win the Primeira Liga – I’d always dreamed of winning a trophy for Fluminense since I was a child.
What did you learn during those 6 months?
When I returned to Roma, I realised that there are different ways of working and different ideas here. I’ve started playing matches thanks to the help my team-mates and my coach have given me, as well as the hard work I’ve been putting in in training. The club gives me all the support I need as well.
Your case is a bit different to Gabigol, but you’re almost the same age and people were expecting to see him play in Italy too. He has hardly had a chance in the last 4 months though. Do you think – as some people say here – that young Brazilians aren’t ready when they arrive, or do you think they deserve to get more opportunities?
Look, I can’t speak for Gabigol, he’s an extraordinary player. I know all about him after playing with him in Brazil’s youth teams. In my case, everything was discussed, and I’ve been fully dedicated and training hard ever since I got here. As I said before, training methods and ideas are different here compared to Brazil. Now I’ve adapted to them. Whether you’re ready or not depends on what the club wants, and that varies a lot from club to club. I’ve already been getting chances – I’ve played 11 times since I returned. I’ve played 90 minutes 5 times. In pre-season, I scored as well. It’s a matter of taking your chances and being aware that you always have to give your best. I’m sure he’ll get his chances as well.
What advice would you give him?
It’s difficult to give advice, because I’m only at the start of my career in Europe as well. I think hard work and patience are fundamental right now. He will flourish here though, he has the quality.