″21 is saved for Ricardo Horta, but Neres impressed me″

Statements by Pizzi, the Portuguese international midfielder who switched from Benfica to Al Wahda, to Channel 11

Benfica’s interest in Ricardo Horta: “I like him a lot. I have a friendly relationship with him, as I do with André. Two great friends. He’s a player of great quality. Of course I understand the part of President António Salvador not wanting to sell. A player of great quality and added value I would like to see him at Benfica. If I already told him? I told his brother. I told his brother that the number 21 is saved for him. It would be a loss for Braga, but it would fit very well into the game system and players there at back: Rafa, Neres, João Mário…”

Roger Schmidt’s opinion: “I liked him a lot, he has a totally different mentality from the one we have here. I believe that it will be good for Benfica and for Portuguese football, to have coaches who are not in this bubble that is Portuguese football, the controversies of referees, of the Boards. I think Rui Costa and the Management made the right choice. I don’t know if it will work out in terms of titles but it was a correct decision. I really liked his mentality, very close to the players, very frontal, with a lot of respect for everyone. Above all on the field he has very good ideas, very offensive and with the ball forward. He has everything to work out and I hope it works out for the good of Benfica.”

Benfica’s reinforcements: “Benfica has strengthened itself quite well this year, both at the defensive level, with the full-backs and central defenders, but the player I liked the most was Neres, who impressed me the most with the ball. He is very unpredictable, he has that football of street that we are not used to here anymore, has that Brazilian football swing. It will be a very good reinforcement for Benfica and for Portuguese football, it will bring a lot of quality. Enzo will also add a lot to Portuguese football and Benfica, which reinforced itself very well. I hope they have ideal conditions to form a great team and do beautiful things together.”

Playing time: “There are several factors for this to happen. First, it’s our responsibility, the players’. I follow the Premier League a lot and the players don’t have as much temptation as we, and I, have to throw ourselves on the ground. Both players and referees have I believe that from the moment the whistle stopped, the players stopped throwing themselves so much. And the smaller teams, where I’ve played, for us it was very hard to go to Luz, Dragão, Alvalade, and with our weapons we tried to keep the game more still. The evolution of football passes through there, the fouls… Referees have a very important role in this. Not only small teams, maybe Benfica at Dragão do the same, FC Porto in Luz the winner does the same. Our championship has a lot of quality, even the so-called smaller teams.”

What changed: “It’s difficult to say, but when the referees lose time, they should at the end give much more extra time. It’s difficult to fight if we players, referees, everyone involved, directors, coaches, would have to change the mentality for it to be different . We have players of so much quality, stadiums, training… our league needed to make the leap. It has to be the mentality.”

Climate and controversy of the dinner with Adrien: “Our football is very involved in unnecessary controversy. There is more talk of football off the pitch than on the pitch. In the Premier League, I just saw images of Rúben Dias congratulating Darwin on the Super Cup. Here it was seen: ‘Did you lose and are you still greeting?’. There are several photos of me teasing Bruno Fernandes. What is on the field, there has to be rivalry, but outside it is totally different. We also have our Selection time. You have to change about it. Portuguese football doesn’t have as much visibility abroad as well.”

Picardy with Bruno Fernandes: “Bruno Fernandes is very boring. I was too, but I’m not anymore. Nobody likes to lose. He is an example of a person on the field who is very boring and out here he is five stars. ‘ and out here it’s five stars.”