"He'll play for many years at Barça," confirmed Paolo Rongoni. The Italian was a fitness coach at Roma and worked closely with Miralem Pjanic. Right now, Rongoni is at Lyon alongside Rudi Garcia, but he knows Pjanic as well as anybody. The age difference between the Bosnian and Arthur has caused a lot of criticism from Barça supporters but Rongoni doesn't believe they should be worried. In an exclusive interview with SPORT, he gave his thoughts on Pjanic's move.
What's your memory of Pjanic?
Look, those of us who have worked with him know he's an authentic superstar. It was an honour and privilege to work with a champion like Pjanic at Roma. We achieved historic results together.
A Pjanic that, year on year, became more influential.
Without a doubt. In the 2014/15 season Pjanic played more than anybody else at Roma: 46 across all competitions. And not only that, he controlled the midfield. He scored goals and provided assists. It was during this moment that he announced himself on the world stage and that development has only continued at Juventus.
What are his fitness levels like?
He's an athlete of the highest quality. You need to remember Pjanic usually covers 13km per match. He trains to the fullest and only thinks about improving. He's a great professional and he takes care of himself both on and off the pitch. That's why he's suffered fewer muscle injuries than most players at Roma and Juve. He recovers fast too and isn't jealous of bigger names he shares the dressing room with.
And his personality?
He's a good person. He never gave us any problems at Roma. He's a leader in the dressing room and knows how to behave.
In saying that, does he have the quality to play for this Barça team?
Look at the way he moves the ball unlike so many others. Of course he's got the required quality for Barça or any other top club in the world. He's technically sound, has incredible vision, can pass and is a magician at freekicks. He always adds a lot of goals and assists. He's a mature player.
At Barcelona, some are concerned by his age.
I can't speak about Arthur but Pjanic is 30. Due to his professionalism and physical condition, he can still play for many years yet.