Jose Mourinho said he was never in doubt after seeing his Roma captain Lorenzo Pellegrini renew his contract after links with his former club Tottenham Hotspur, as well as fellow Premier League side Liverpool.
Pellegrini has signed a new contract with Roma until 2026, the Serie A side have confirmed. It ends months of fears for them, given that his previous deal was due to expire at the end of the season. Even prior to then, he had a €30m release clause in his old deal that looked inviting.
The attacking midfielder is a Rome-born academy graduate of the club from the Italian capital. He spent two years away at Sassuolo before returning to his hometown club in 2017, where he has grown into a key player since.
Pellegrini became Roma’s captain earlier this year and kept turning heads with his performances. Initially gaining a reputation for making many assists, he has also been adding goals to his game.
A number of clubs were thus interested, including Tottenham, whose Italian managing director Fabio Paratici was well aware of what Pellegrini would add.
In addition, Liverpool were believed to be looking after losing a key component of their midfield with the summer exit of Georginio Wijnaldum.
But they have all been disappointed after Pellegrini made the decision that always seemed most likely, officially committing to Roma for another five years.
Although not taunting his former club specifically, Mourinho was always confident Pellegrini would choose to stay at his disposal rather than leave for someone like Spurs.
“It’s what I’ve already said before. He’s a quality player, a talisman, a Rome kid and a Roma fan who has grown up here and become captain here,” Mourinho said.
“From the moment I heard the ownership say they didn’t want to lose him, from the moment Lorenzo told me face-to-face that he would definitely stay, even before any agreement, then from that moment it was all part of a process.
“It was in the hands of [Roma general manager] Tiago Pinto and Lorenzo’s agent. It took a few weeks, but we knew it would finish as it has done.
“It’s the right decision for the club and also for Lorenzo. We talked about it. For us as a club stability is important. I am here for three years; he’s here for good now.”
Pellegrini has been Roma’s best player in their first 10 matches under Mourinho. He already has five goals and one assist from seven appearances under the ex-Tottenham boss.
But any hopes Premier League clubs had of signing him have now been ended for the foreseeable future.
Pellegrini explains decision
The player confirmed that the bond between himself and the club and city were key to his decision not to look elsewhere.
“It’s impossible for me to explain this feeling. It’s what I’ve always wanted – to cement this bond between myself and my team and my city,” Pellegrini said.
“You couldn’t imagine a greater feeling than this.
“I feel truly honoured that the ownership, Tiago [Pinto] and the coach have always considered me so important; I will try to repay that faith every day on the pitch by giving 110 per cent and doing everything I can to keep improving.”
He also suggested Mourinho has had an impact on his belief in his current club’s project.
“We’re improving all the time, both individually and as a team. I’m sure we’ll do well,” the Italy international added.
“A while ago I already mentioned that I sensed something different in Trigoria this season, in the dressing room, on the pitch. It feels different. That’s down to the coach and his staff and the way we feel going out to train.
“I always come in for training happy and proud to be here. I’m delighted to be able to show that by signing this new contract because I believe 100% in Roma.”