After sealing a deadline day move to Serie A side Hellas Verona, Rolando Aarons has spoken to the Italian press for the first time, admitting that he still believes he can become a ‘top player’ as he explains his decision to move abroad over a drop down to the Championship.
It was reported on deadline day that Hull were one of several Championship clubs talking to the 22-year-old over a potential loan deal, however hours later and he was a Hellas Verona player until the end of the season, choosing to test himself out in Serie A opposed to a stint in the English second tier.
A bold move from the youngster whose often struggled to make the NUFC squad this season, but a challenge he is clearly relishing.
Here’s what he had to say to the Italian press when discussing why he made the move, his struggles and his style of play:
“My Italian is not great but I’ve downloaded an app on my phone to learn the language,” (he jokes)
“It was coming to the end of the January transfer window and I had a few options and for me the intriguing thing was to play in Serie A and obviously test myself in a top foreign league. It’s a new environment for me but I’ve watched the league a lot and I like it.
“I have a history with the manager too from his time at Newcastle so to me, the move made sense. I’m very happy that I made the decision that I’ve made.”
Aarons on how the move came about & what he hopes to achieve
“The first time I had contact with the manager was in August just before the friendly with Newcastle where he asked me just before the game to come to Verona,”
“At the time it didn’t make sense because I still had the possibility of playing for my parent club Newcastle but obviously when this opportunity came around in January, it was in my mind from before. It made it easier for me to make a decision knowing that I wanted from before.”
“I still believe I can become a top player, but obviously I have had obstacles with injuries and the rest, not playing as many games as I can. It has stopped my progress but I feel like this is a perfect platform to re-establish my career, as well as helping Verona as well.”
“At the end of the day I’m doing what I love, out there playing football,” he said.
“You’re putting me in a position where we’re trying to fight for our position in Serie A but I’ve been in this situation before with Newcastle (fighting relegation) in the Premier League. So I’m prepared.
“I will play wherever the manager puts me. My best role is the one that the manager puts me in. Right now, it’s not about Rolando Aarons, it’s about Verona and what’s best for them. We need to get out of the situation and fight together as a team.
“I have learned a phrase in Italian ‘Sono pronto’. I am ready (for the challenge). When I play football I always want to win. Us being in this position changes nothing. I like to forget the pressure. I like to play football to win – that’s the most important thing to me.
Aarons on his Veron debut vs Roma and his style of play
“I’m very critical of myself. I don’t think I necessarily performed to the best of my abilities. I’m not happy with my performances as yet but I do understand that I’m adapting to a new league, a new championship and it may take time,” he said.
“I think I’m very instinctive player.
“I like to play without thinking too much: whether it’s dribbling, shooting or running – my qualities are all three of those – but attacking in general is my biggest quality.
“I feel that I can add quality in the final third. I know the team has struggled to score goals and create a lot of chances this season. My personal goal is to help contribute more to that side of that team as well as help them with everything else.
“I’m doing extra after training, whether it’s on shooting or movements but we’re working hard defensively and offensively.”
Aarons on Benitez’s influence and Fabio Pecchia
“Rafa didn’t say too much about Fabio. He worked under Rafa at Newcastle so I got to know him quite well when he was at Newcastle,” he said.
“I got to know him personally and I already knew his characteristics, what he likes and didn’t like. Rafa didn’t have to tell me, I already knew. Rafa encouraged me to make my own decision (on the loan).”
Aarons on the Verona fans
“The first impression of the fans is they are very similar to Newcastle fans – they have a lot of passion for their club and are very proud of the club,” he said. “I’m very happy to be a player for fans like this and I’m ready.”
A confident start to life in Italy from the NUFC youngster and a bold decision to travel to a new country and test himself in such a tough league.
Hopefully he comes out of it a better player. He may need to, as you get the feeling he’ll have to start making strides soon enough if he’s to have a genuine future on Tyneside.
Playing games is key for a player with his injury record, however, and a challenge like this should do him the world of good.
Watch him in action on Monday night, with relegation threatened Verona LIVE on BT Sport away to 5th place Lazio – a game that’s sure to be a big test for the winger.
Watch his press conference below: