Rodrigo De Paul has hinted that he has asked to leave Udinese this summer amid links with a Premier League move.
De Paul has been with Udinese since 2016, going from a young winger to an all-action, matured central midfielder. He has outgrown his current club, but they managed to keep hold of him last summer. Leeds United were particularly keen to sign him, but they couldn’t meet the asking price.
Not letting the collapsed transfer affect him, De Paul went on to contribute nine goals and nine assists for Udinese in the 2020-21 edition of Serie A. As such, he remains on the radar of several bigger clubs.
Instead, De Paul has been linked with Inter Milan and Juventus in Serie A, or Atletico Madrid in La Liga. Alternatively, he could end up in the Premier League, where Arsenal and Liverpool have been linked.
In a boost to their hopes of signing him, De Paul has now made a confession to Udinese over his future.
“I was very sincere, very clear with whom I had to be clear,” he told The Guardian.
“I said what I thought, what I want. I’m 27 now. I’m not going to speak anywhere else because I respect everyone at Udinese, especially the fans who really love me.”
As he admits, De Paul remains a popular player in Udine, but is still growing on the international stage. He will represent Argentina at the Copa America, looking to add to his 23 caps.
Assessing his role, the midfielder remained humble and gave an exciting hint that there is more to come from him.
“People talk about goals and assists but I was looking for stats on ball recoveries the other day,” he said. “I’m on almost treble the first year: it was 150, it’s over 400 now. What I didn’t have then, now I do.
“So now you think: ‘OK, what’s next? What’s missing?’ The day I stop playing for Argentina, it will be because someone was better, not because I didn’t work.
“I like giving passes more than scoring and there are moments to throw yourself into tackles. I don’t have a problem doing that, nor do I want to be on the front pages.”
De Paul gives Messi insight
Allowing the focus to be on others is easy for De Paul when he shares a pitch with Lionel Messi for his country.
The six-time Ballon d’Or winner is one of the best players ever, but De Paul is just as impressed with his human side.
“We have the best captain we could have,” the 27-year-old said. “I’m not going to talk about his footballing level, because that’s beyond debate. As a person and a guide, Leo is incomparable. Having him, everything is easier.
“On a human level, I only had contact with him once: at Valencia-Barcelona. We’re talking 2014. Apart from that I didn’t know him.
“Given everything he lives through – you can’t go anywhere; set foot in an airport and 200 people are there – he could be a reserved character, so he surprised me.
“He enjoys having a mate, enjoys listening to a song, enjoys truco [cards]. We do warmup games where you dribble, jump a hoop, shoot. I say: ‘Leo; I’ll take you on.’ He loves that. That humanises him.
“You can see him as existing in another dimension but he’s a person.”