In 2010, Marcos Rojo signed for Spartak Moscow, and in 2 seasons with the Russian club he made 17 appearances, scoring once and setting up one goal.
Spartak was the then 20 year old’s first European team since leaving his Argentinean club Estudiantes. Sporting Lisbon then signed the defender in 2012 and whilst in Portugal, Rojo went to the 2014 World Cup and was integral to their road to the final.
ManUtd.com have reported a rather unsavoury press conference, prior to Manchester United’s Champions league bout with CSKA Moscow, where Louis van Gaal were questioned for signing and playing alongside Marcos Rojo.
According to ManUtd.com, this is how events transpired:
During Tuesday night’s pre-match press conference, one Russian journalist questioned Rojo’s performances with Spartak and even asked van Gaal why he signed the defender.
As you might expect, the boss provided an impassioned response:
“I didn’t know that he played for Spartak Moscow, but I have seen him in the World Cup in Brazil when he played for Argentina.”
“He did it very well and he also played for Sporting Lisbon. There I analysed him. What I like is that he is physically a very strong guy, he has a good header of the ball and his pass is very fast.”
“That is what we always need, we need a high speed in our positional game. When he improves and he can reach a very high level because he is not fully developed yet.”
“I think there is great potential in him to become a very good player for Manchester United.”
Rooney was also asked what it’s like to train against Rojo – with the journalist being as bold to say it “was easy to get around him with Spartak” – and the captain gave his honest assessment.
“For me as Marcos’s team-mate, I can say that he is a fantastic player and a fantastic person.”
“He is a player who is very tough to get around, as the manager says.”
“For him to be from Argentina and to come and play in the Premier League is not easy but he has done a great job and he will be a very important player for us for the rest of the season.”
At this point in the press conference, van Gaal decided to ask the journalist who had started the line of questioning about Rojo for his age. When the reporter replied “26”, the manager continued to explain why his criticism of his player was unfair and premature.
“When you are 26, you can still develop yourself and Marcos Rojo has developed himself,” the Dutchman said. “Marcos Rojo is also 25 years old so he is still developing.”
Marcos Rojo put in a fantastic performance against Everton at the weekend, and he’s expected to start against CSKA Moscow tonight.