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EXCLUSIVE - Gianluca Nani interview
GIANLUCA Nani is a man with a mission.
He wants to turn West Ham United into one of Europe’s top clubs, both on and off the pitch.
To fulfil his aims, the Irons’ new Italian technical director plans to overhaul everything from the club’s playing staff to its medical and training facilities.
Echosport’s ROB PRITCHARD spoke exclusively to Nani about his plans for the Hammers.
THEY same Rome was not built in a day.
It is perhaps ironic, then, that Roman Gianluca Nani says that the new West Ham United will not be built in a day.
The 45-year-old arrived from Serie A side Brescia in June with the remit of transforming the Hammers from a traditional English club to one at the forefront of European and world football.
To do so, the former law student stated his case for an almost complete overhaul of the club’s scouting, transfer, training and medical facilities.
Nani has a dream of attracting the cream of the world’s best young talent to Upton Park before turning them into superstars.
The Italian’s job, he admitted, is a “great gamble”, but Nani is prepared to roll the dice.
“It's fantastic to be at West Ham. It's really nice. It's a really great gamble,” he told the Echo.
“I'm really concentrated because now we are working hard for the transfer market and we try to build a better team.
“We are taking care of the financial side too and we think that West Ham could be a really good team.
“First of all, we are trying to build a team around the squad.”
Since his arrival, Nani’s influence has already been felt in the transfer market.
Valon Behrami arrived from Lazio for £5million at his own personal recommendation.
“Behrami can be one of the top players in the Premier League within two-or-three years. He has everything needed to be successful in England,” Nani enthused.
Meanwhile, Bobby Zamora, John Pantsil and Freddie Ljungberg - in controversial circumstances - have all left the Boleyn Ground since his arrival.
“Freddie will try a new experience abroad and we let him go,” Nani, who took part in the negotiation of the Swede’s release from his three-year contract after just a single season, explained.
“He was available for transfer. He played a lot of years in England and played for the best team in England and played in Europe.
“He would like to do a new thing and so in respect of him and his career, without any fighting we let him go.”
Despite the ins and outs, many West Ham supporters have been disappointed with the lack of action in the transfer market.
Nani, however, insisted his work in the summer transfer window was not yet done.
“It has not been a frustrating summer at all,” he said.
“I know my job and that is to keep the best players from last season find the best players to add to the squad.
“I'm working hard trying to be ready, when we have the chance, to bring in the best players.
“But, the market could change at any time and you have to be ready to take that opportunity to get the better players.
“Some players could go, while some others could come – you have to be ready at any time.”
Nani made his name by bringing in unproven talent and reviving seemingly spent careers during his nine-year spell at Brescia.
Among those to benefit were Italian World Cup winners Luca Toni and Andrea Pirlo, Roberto Baggio, Spanish midfielder Josip Guardiola, Brazilian Matuzalem and Ghanaian midfielder Stephen Appiah.
The technical director wants to build a similarly successful operation in the East End, but it will not happen overnight.
“My plan to build our organisation by finding the best European and South American players from around the world, we need time,” he said.
“I think we are not finished with the market.
“The balance should be looked at at the end of the market and the real balance will be shown at the end of the season.”
What is clear is that Nani and his scouting network will scour the world for “the next Cristiano Ronaldo”, with Icelandic teenager Holmar Orn Eyjolfsson already at the club and skilful Hungarian forward Balint Bajner on trial.
For now, however, Nani is content with the strength of the Irons’ first team squad and believes the club can enjoy a positive season in the Premier League.
“Last season, we had some players who were injured, but all of them are coming back,” he added.
“We have a very good medical department and have bought a very important player in Valon Behrami. We are really following our plan.
“I think we are working the right way. We know we have Craig Bellamy and Julien Faubert coming back and Kieron Dyer is very close to coming back again.
“So, I think we can have a good season.”