Roberto De Zerbi explains why he and Domenico Berardi aren’t in any hurry to leave Sassuolo, while joking he’ll teach Giacomo Raspadori to ‘steal wallets.’
Giacomo Bonaventura’s scorcher had put Fiorentina in front, but introducing Berardi at half-time made all the difference, as he converted two penalties before a Maxime Lopez strike for 3-1.
“Berardi is our world class player. He has reached a level of self-belief and development than means he can make the difference in any game, both for Sassuolo and Italy,” the coach told Sky Sport Italia.
“I think he is ready to play for any club and has everything it needs to be a protagonist at the top level. It depends on what he wants to do.
“Both Berardi and I try first of all to enjoy our football. I don’t think he is resisting a move, it’s just that he would only do that if it was part of a consistent growth process. I feel the same way.
“Berardi has 101 goals for Sassuolo. We are talking about a player who has already proved himself. The issue with moving on is if he’d be put in the position to give his best. I don’t think his concern is about the pressure, as he’s used to that now, it’s more about playing the kind of football that suits him.”
De Zerbi has also been linked with a step up to a bigger club, with options mentioned including Fiorentina, Napoli or Shakhtar Donetsk.
“We aimed this season to break through the wall of the top seven, but that is a very tough ask. I have already said that I don’t put my ambition in front of everything. I might even want to start a new project somewhere to challenge for safety.
“The issue is whether I am the right person for Sassuolo after three years. If you look around, there are very few clubs in mid-table who have the same coach for four or more years and there must be a reason for that.
“I spoke to Carnevali, who is my friend more than a general manager, and we will try to reach the right decision for the club, for them and for me. That is all.”
De Zerbi hugged Giacomo Raspadori and laughed when the young striker was substituted, what did they say?
“He’s a lovely lad, but at times he’s quite naïve. The way he earned the penalty, that showed some good old-fashioned nous and it made me smile.
“I am 41, but I still remember some of the phrases my old coaches told me. I joked with him that one day we had to go out and try to steal some wallets, just to make him less of a good boy and a bit more savvy.”