ROME – AS Roma coach Jose Mourinho lightheartedly brushed off persistent speculation around taking a managerial role at Paris Saint-Germain, as his team prepares for the first leg of the Europa League semi-final against Bayer Leverkusen at home on Thursday.
Despite talk of potentially taking over the Ligue 1 club from Christophe Galtier in the 2023-24 season, Mourinho reaffirmed his loyalty to Roma, where he is currently under contract until 2024.
“If they called, they didn’t find me,” Mourinho told Sky Sport Italia on Wednesday before the pre-match news conference.
Roma are set to confront a formidable challenge as they go head-to-head against Xabi Alonso’s squad on Thursday. Notably, Alonso played a pivotal role in Mourinho’s success during their tenure at Real Madrid from 2010 to 2013.
Together, they clinched prestigious titles such as La Liga, Copa del Rey, and the Spanish Super Cup.
During the news conference, Mourinho expressed admiration for the former Spain international, showering him with praise.
“I haven’t seen him for a long time. We’ve always had a fantastic rapport, more than between a coach and a player.”
Mourinho said that the German team ranks among Europe’s finest in terms of executing counter-attacks.
“They are very dangerous in this moment of the game, they defend, wait for the opponent to lose the ball and then it’s difficult to stop them,” he said, emphasising the number of swift attacking players in Alonso’s squad.
“He uses the style that suits his players more, five or six... of them could run the 100m with Marcel Jacobs at the Olympics.”
Despite Roma reaching the semi-finals of a prominent European competition for the third consecutive season, Mourinho dismisses the notion that it puts pressure on the team.
“We have enough experience not to be too excited for being in the semi-finals, and not to be too fixated on the fact that it is the first game and that it is played at home,” he said.
Mourinho said it was likely key striker Paulo Dybala and midfielder Georginio Wijnaldum will not be in the starting line-up due to their injuries.
“We’ll do everything we can to fully recover them but we must prepare the match regardless of their availability.”
The return leg will take place on May 18. REUTERS