The Premier League has become second-rate - Roma forward Osvaldo defends Serie A

The Giallorossi hitman has spoken out about the quality of play in England, backed the competitive nature of the Italian division and outlined his hopes for the upcoming season

Roma striker Pablo Osvaldo has hit out at the Premier League, branding the standard of football "second-rate."

The former Espanyol man, who spent four years in Italy between 2006 and 2010 before returning from Spain last summer, came out fighting as he hit back at suggestions that Serie A is in decline.

"Once the Premier League was the most beautiful in the world," the 26-year-old told Gazzetta dello Sport. "But I think now the football has become second-rate.

"It's more fun to play in Italy where every game is a fight, rather than a tournament where the first few teams get an easy 30 points."

The Argentina-born forward did, however, have some positive words for English football, particularly by praising their hard-line stance on hooliganism.

He added: "We [Italian football] need to go hard on the ultra violent, like they have in England. Football is the greatest sport in the world and it is absurd that a few people can ruin it."

Looking ahead to the new campaign, Osvaldo admitted Roma are aiming high, but reiterated the need to remain realistic.

"Yes, I think we should be in the mix," he continued. "I want to win the Scudetto, but we must wait until after our first 10 games to see how our season is going. Obviously we want to finish as high as possible, but our minimum goal is to return to Europe."

The Argentina-born goalscorer then praised new boss Zdenek Zeman, the coach he worked with during the 2006-07 season in the south of Italy.

"It was nice to meet [Zeman] after so many years. I had him when I was at Lecce, but I was just a kid. Now the situation has changed, but the relationship has always been excellent. He has not changed at all; we still train really hard."

And the twice-capped Azzurri forward is hoping that that hard work will be rewarded with a call-up to the Italian national team.

"I was sorry to miss Euro 2012, but I liked how Italy played," Osvaldo added. "My goal is to get back as soon as possible, and pair up with [Mario] Balotelli, maybe.

"I saw some of the games from the tournament, and what Mario did against Germany was exceptional. And not to mention up front there was another true talent in [Antonio] Cassano."