Adriano on comeback trail

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ROME, July 23 – He may be overweight and seemingly past his best but new AS Roma striker Adriano believes he still has a lot to offer on his comeback to Italian football.A year and a half ago, Adriano walked out on Inter Milan and returned to Brazil claiming he was unhappy in Italy and needed his friends and family in Rio de Janeiro.

At the time he was much criticised for his expanding waistline while there were frequent rumours of drink and depression problems.

But after a largely successful season with his original club Flamengo, Adriano is back in Italy – just bigger than ever.

When the 28-year-old was presented to the Italian media earlier this month, he allegedly weighed 108 kilos, around 25 kilos above his ideal weight.

And when speaking to the press from Roma’s training base in the north of Italy on Thursday, although Adriano refused to discuss his weight, it was clear that it’s still an issue.

"I prefer not to talk about numbers," he said when asked how much weight he needs to lose. "I had three months off.

"But I can tell you that in a month I will be close to the right physical shape."

Adriano is convinced he can rediscover the form that once made him one of the most feared strikers plying their trade in Europe.

"I know I’ve done some things that aren’t great but now I’m here to get back to being what I once was," he vowed.

Adriano came to Europe in 2001 as a teenager and while he wasn’t yet deemed ready for regular first team action at Inter, he was given his chance elsewhere on loan.

Following a brief spell at Fiorentina, Adriano made his name at Parma during an 18-month stint in which he blasted home 23 goals in 37 league appearances.

That convinced Inter to bring him back and for a couple of seasons he was one of the most highly-rated strikers in the world with Manchester United reportedly showing an interest in him.

But just as Inter broke out from the shadow cast by Serie A rivals AC Milan and Juventus to embark on a run of five straight titles, Adriano’s star started to wane.

He scored just five league goals in 2006/07 and then the next season played just four league games before being sent back to Brazil, on loan at Sao Paulo where it was hoped he would rediscover his form, fitness and motivation.

He came back to thrive briefly under Jose Mourinho in 2008/09 but soon after the mid-point in the season, and after having had several disciplinary run-ins with the Portuguese boss, he walked out of Italy and went home.

Many assumed that would be the last they would see of the "Emperor" in the country but then the news surfaced towards the end of last season that Roma were interested in signing him.

Adriano was enjoying a return to form at Flamengo, although he was often criticised for his lack of commitment to training, and pre-World Cup he was even back in the Brazil squad.

For Roma, though, who came so close to landing the title last season, spending a lot of money on a salary for a player as unpredictable as Adriano is undoubtedly a risk.

But they are banking on him rediscovering his form of old in a league he once graced.

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