Roma Without it’s Emperor Totti

Francesco Totti - AS Roma
Francesco Totti - AS Roma

This past season was Roma’s most successful league campaign since the league was expanded to 20 teams in 2004. Their points total of 87 this year, would have been good enough to win the league in 7 of the previous 10 seasons (see table below).

 

Within the current squad, are a host of tremendously talented footballers who are both leaders for Roma and their national teams. Starting in goal with Szczesny, he has provided the Roman club with a solid base and has certainly matured from his Arsenal days. The Polish goalkeeper kept the most clean sheets in Serie A this season with 14. Even though he won’t be staying at the club, as Roma have not exercised their purchase option with Arsenal, they have a reliable replacement already at the club in the form of the Brazilian Allison. Last summer, there was a question mark as to who would be Roma’s number one. Spaletti went with Szczesny predominantly, but Allison has played regularly in cup games. His ten starts in the Europa League saw him make 3.63 saves per goal, compared to Szczesny’s 3.0 per goal. At 24, the Brazilian would be viewed as a long term option at Roma and someone to lead them into the new stadium. The fact Roma don’t need to spend €15 million to get him makes financial sense, along with the fact he demands a much lower wage than his old teammate.

Wojciech Szczesny - AS Roma
Wojciech Szczesny – AS Roma

At the back, Manolas and Rudiger have been linked with almost every top European club between them within the last 3 years. This alone illustrates how well they have been performing for Roma. Manolos is currently in discussions with Roma over a new contract and looks like he is going to extend his time at the club. Rumours continue to surround Rudiger this summer with Inter Milan heading the list of clubs interested. If he were to join Spalletti in Milan, it would take a significant price to do so. Emerson is an attacking left back who was due to play his debut for Brazil next week only for injury to halt the opportunity for the second time this season. A very similar payer to Marcelo at Real Madrid, the Brazilian appears more of a winger than full back at times. On the other side of the defence is usually Florenzi – best remembered for his 60 yard screamer against Barcelona in 2015 – damaged his ACL for a second time in February is expected to be available again for the new season. Last summer saw Bruno Peres arrive from Torino following a few credible seasons, but he also got injured during the season which saw Rudiger filling the void. Federico Fazio came in at centre back and has been one of the best performing defenders in Italy this season (highest rated defender in Serie A this season by WhoScored with 7.5). Not blessed with pace – as Spurs supporters found out early on during his time in London – he is a beast in the air and his positioning allows him to account for his lack of pace. He has proved fantastic value in the current market with Roma only handing over €4.5 million for the Argentinian. Looking forward to next season, the defence of the Roma squad is promising as there is quality in depth available.

AS Roma: Fazio-Strootman-Dzeko-Jesus
AS Roma: Fazio-Strootman-Dzeko-Jesus

Moving into midfield and Roma’s strongest area of the pitch, Leandro Parades has had a fantastic season and is part of the reason why Roma decided against recruiting Franck Kessie from Atalanta. The Argentinian was most recently called up to Sampaoli’s first squad. He is essentially a deep lying playmaker who instigates the attacks for Roma. Previously a number 10, he has transitioned well into playing deeper where he is more than capable of breaking up attacks also. Rumoured to have both Juventus and Liverpool interested in him, the 22 year old has a bright future ahead of him. Kevin Strootman, a man who looked destined to join Man United only for a horrible knee injury, has become himself again this season by clocking up a total of 31 starts in 33 Serie A appearances. A man who’s importance can be underrated, simply dictates the centre of midfield by Rudi Garcia’s account: “we give him dirty ball and it comes out clean”. Along with the Dutchman, is another lowlander in Rajda Nainggolan. One of the most impressive midfielders in the world at the moment, the Belgian is capable of playing anywhere in midfield. A combative player with high energy who equally has great composure in front of goal, Nainggolan has produced 11 goals for Roma in the league this season. His combative nature has even resulted in his name being associated with a type of tackle – check out the ‘Nainggolan tackle’ here:

Roma have rejected a combined offer of €70 million for Rudiger and Nainggolan from Inter Milan already so there may be a long summer for the capital club yet. Man United have been strongly linked with the Belgian midfielder as have Chelsea. Should either team want to buy him, Monchi and the board would ensure to drain every penny from them for their top man. It would probably take an offer north of €50 million to entertain Roma. On top of these three, Roma still have the eternal Danielle De Rossi within their ranks. A warrior on the field and a real leader for the squad, De Rossi will have a big role to play should Roma go on to have success next season.

Radja Nainggolan - AS Roma
Photo: by Ed Moynihan/Forza27.com

Moving into the attacking side of play, Mohamed Salah has produced the type of displays that motivated Chelsea to part with €20 million for the Egyptian in 2012. One of the first names on the team sheet now for Roma, the 24 year old has scored 15 and assisted a further 11 goals this season in Serie A alone. Due to the fact Roma need to generate €30 million before June 30th, and with Liverpool in strong negotiations with the Egyptian, it seems most probable Salah will not be at Roma next season. Within the squad however, there are already options to take up the mantle from Salah. Diego Perotti had an admirable season clocking up 8 goals and 6 assists in the league. Along with El Sharaawy – at 24 years old – is yet to blossom into the great football that is within. The majority of assists by Roma players this season have been for Edin Dzeko, who has been awarded with capocannoniere following his 29 goal total this season in Serie A – more than any other Roma player has ever managed in a season. A pinch for a top striker from Man City at €20 million, the Roma supporters will be hoping the Bosnia and Herzegovinian can produce the same performances next season.

Dzeko celebrating
Photo: by Ed Moynihan/Forza27.com

Going forward, there is also reason to be encouraged due to the high quality of youth players coming through the ranks in the Italian capital. The current Coppa Italia and Super Cup Primavera champions have the likes of Edoardo Soleri, Marco Tumminello and Riccardo Marchizza within their ranks. Soleri is generally accepted as being the pick of the bunch. The 19 year old who plays up front, spent 5 years in Brazil as a young boy where he has certainly adopted some of the samba skills and brought them to Italy. He has scored 36 goals in 37 games in all competitions this season – staggering numbers really. He’s well-liked by the Roma supporters too especially after scoring 2 hat tricks in 2 games against Lazio. With that, he should certainly feature in the senior team in the coming seasons as much is expected of the young striker. Marco Tumminello is also an impressive striker with 30 goals in 32 games in all competitions for the Primavera this season. After forming a good partnership with Soleri, it would be hoped the former Palermo 18 year old could make his way into the first team also. Riccardo Marchizza has already made an introduction to first team football as he came on as a sub in a Europa League game in December. It shows how well thought of the 19 year old centre back is at the club. The only Roma player in the recent U-20 World Cup squad that finished 3rd, he is competent when the ball is both in the air and on the ground. He likes to move out from the back and play into midfield. The fact he is comfortable playing left back too helps support his development as a modern centre back along with the fact Manolas is tutoring him. It would be the wish of all Roma supporters to see some of the Primavera players follow in the footsteps of Totti, De Rossi and Florenzi to guide the senior team into their new stadium and into the future.




Luciano Spalletti has left the club this week and was appointed the new manager of Inter Milan, with the appointment of Eusebio Di Francesco at Roma seemingly imminent. Given the reasons above, Roma could certainly get a bigger name than him. Granted, he has done an admirable job at Sassuolo after bringing them from Serie B to the heights of qualifying for the Europa League last season. He is an advocate of playing young players and also attacking football. However, Roma have a bigger draw than giving an up-coming manager a chance. Some proven managers are currently out of jobs and would suit the growing capital club. Laurent Blanc is still unemployed following his admirable work with PSG, Frank de Boer is also unemployed following his difficult period with Inter Milan. He was given a tough job at Inter where he was appointed a few days before the start of the season and booted out when results suffered; even though it was clear he was trying to implement a style that would take time. This should not be a detraction for Roma in seeking their new manager as he has previously done fantastic work at Ajax where he won 4 league titles in a row. Thomas Tuchel is also available following him leaving Borussia Dortmund after his position became untenable following the breakdown in relations with Watzke. As much as I admire Di Francesco for his work at Sassuolo, managers of Blanc, de Boer and Tuchel’s ilk should take priority.

It is certainly going to be an interesting summer transfer market with Monchi at the helm to offer his expertise. On top of this, if they are capable of retaining top players such as Nainggolan, Parades, Rudiger, Manolas and Dzeko, they could very easily trouble Juventus even more so next season. As mentioned earlier, it appears they will be losing Salah to Liverpool. Roma need to sell a player for a significant value in order to attain FFP and should rake in around €40-45 million for the Egyptian winger. He should also prove a great signing for Liverpool who really need another option out wide with pace. After getting in the best sporting director in the business, receiving approval for the building of a new stadium, reaching a record high points total in Serie A with a record breaking striker in a very talented squad – it is certainly a time to be excited as a Roma supporter.




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