Maxime Gonalons said he has “made a step up” in his career by leaving Olympique Lyonnais for Roma. “The people here live for football.”
The French midfielder spoke to L’Equipe about this new experience after being a one-club man for most of his time in the sport.
“At the start it was a little difficult, as I’d spent 18 years at Lyon and knew nothing outside of that. Roma are incredible, my family settled in immediately and from the moment I first landed at the airport, I realised I had landed in another world, one where the people live for football.
“Serie A looks like one thing from the outside, but once you are in it, it’s completely different! This season Serie A has really stepped up the general level. There are five teams fighting for the title: Napoli, Inter, Juventus, Roma and Lazio. It’s super-competitive and very difficult.
“The opponents press you constantly and you don’t have much time to play. You must always have your head up and be ready. There’s a very high level in general and you must be sharp to ensure you don’t lose the ball.
“I knew there would be more work on tactics, but above all the organisation around the club is incredible. Everything is done for the players, allowing them to focus only on football. In France we’ve got a long way to go in that sense.
“I wasn’t very well known in Italy, so I still have to prove myself. I wanted to move on, because I didn’t want to get stuck in a rut.
“I wanted to start a new era and it was the time for me to experience something else. I said to myself that a call from a club like Roma doesn’t happen every day.
“This is my first time discovering a new club, a new culture, a new language, but my family and I are doing very well. I do believe going from Lyon to Roma is a step up in my career, even if Lyon remains a great club. Roma are an institution.”
The Giallorossi are top of their Champions League group and need only a point against Atletico Madrid tomorrow night to go through.
“We want to go as far as possible, as we have a quality squad with healthy competition. In the Champions League, we were put in the ‘group of death’ and yet we are now in a good position to qualify.”