Joao Mario’s move to Inter last summer for Sporting Lisbon raised lot of eyebrows. The nerazzurri forked out a reported 45 million euros for the European Champion to bring him to Milan. Today Maio’s former coach at Setubal José Couceiro spoke to La Gazzetta Dello Sport about the player:

When Joao arrived at Setubal what did you think of him?

“He had an undeniable and endless talent. He was very intelligent both on and off the pitch. It was easy to work with him because he understood the game better than the others.”

In Stefano Pioli’s 4-2-3-1 the coach has played him [Joao Mario] in front of the defence or as a trequartista. What is his ideal position?

“This is Pioli’s job, and he is playing in the middle. He can control the game behind the striker in his position which is what I like more than him playing in front of the defence. He has to be right in the middle of everything.”

The player one the Euros by playing on the left…

“Of course, this is what he did when he did not have possession of the ball. You have to look at his movement. He is naturally a number 8, box to box midfielder who can thrive in both a 4-3-3- and 4-4-2. He is physically strong, and even though his speed is not his best quality, he is quick with the ball at his feet. It seems a bit odd to say, but I think that he is stronger with the ball than without it.”

Will Joao Mario become a top player?

“He is already a top player. He is a future star. Next season will be his second year in Italy, and with more time to adapt he will learn more. He understands Italian football very well. This league is far more tactical than the Portuguese league. If he went to Barcelona then he would have had an easier time adapting because the game there is already familiar to him.:

Are you still in contact with Joao?

“He feels as if he made the right choice. He accepted Inter even though he has to sit on the bench sometimes. He understands this and it is helping him mature more.”

Was 45 million euros the right price?

“It is unfair to judge this price alone without comparing it to other deals. There was heavy interest from England, Russia, and Spain. I can also say that if Pogba is worth 105 million euros then Joao Mario’s 45 million euro move to Inter was a fantastic deal.”