Buy or Sell: Predicting the 2019-2020 Roma Squad

BUY OR SELL? Will the franchise see massive turnover for a second year straight or stay the course with its young talent?

Sunday saw the Giallorossi finish in sixth place, barely qualifying for the Europa League and ending a tumultuous season both on and off the pitch. Europa is the appropriate place for a diminished squad who is sure to lose more talent over the summer.  We take a look at the current squad to see which players are likely to stay and who, if anyone,  is likely on their way out during the transfer window.

The Offense

Profile: Stephan El Shaarawy

Position: Winger

Appearances: 28

Summary: El Shaarawy saw a return to form in 2018-2019 and was by far and away Rome’s best attacker if not overall player. ‘Pharaoh’ is still relatively young and will be a crucial piece to Roma’s future success. He is the type of player Roma needs to start every game. However, this, unfortunately, does not bode well for the other young wingers below him on the depth chart. With El Shaarawy starting at left wing, and not having to play outside of Serie A, he makes Diego Perotti expendable.

Future with Roma: Buy 100%


Profile: Eden Dzeko

Position: Striker

Appearances: 33

Summary: There were parts of 2017-2018 where Eden Dzeko was in the discussion for best player in the world. To say that now makes me laugh. A premier striker scoring 8 goals on over 100 shots is unacceptable. Dzeko has already been linked to the EPL and Inter. He might serve as a decent substitute striker if he’s willing to accept that role with Inter but it’s unlikely he can start every game with a true contender. Roma fans will thank Dzeko for the short-lived time he spent on top of the world. His late goal against Barcelona last year during a 4-1 stomping at Camp Nou proved to be one of the most important of his career. I do not see a scenario where Dzeko is in a Roma shirt next season, and for that reason, I am all in on the sale.

Future with Roma: Sell 100%

Profile: Patrik Schick

Position: Striker

Appearances: 24

Summary: There were times this season where Schick looked like he could finally become a decent striker, albeit against lesser competition. The hope was and always has been that Schick would become Dzeko’s successor as the squad’s premier striker. After this season’s performance, we can finally put those hopes to bed. The Schick experiment has failed and the club cannot afford to wait for the Czech striker to reach his potential if that’s even possible anymore. Schick is likely destined for a bottom feeder to revitalize his career. I just cannot see a top team offering him a contract unless he accepts low wages and a tertiary role.

Future with Roma: Sell 100%


Profile: Justin Kluivert

Position: Winger

Appearances: 29

Summary: The young Kluivert established himself as one of Roma’s better setup men and despite this, he rarely made the starting squad, as his coaches often opted to use him in substitute situations. I think Kluivert is good enough to start next year, the only question is does he take playing time away from Under who is currently the more skilled player.

Future with Roma: Buy 100%


Profile: Cengiz Under

Position: Winger

Appearances: 26

Summary: When Under burst on to the scene in 2017-2018 many thought the young Turk would be a permanent fixture for years to come, or at least until he became good enough to be sold, as is tradition in Rome. Under was injured for much of the year but was effective enough when played, adding a few goals and five assists. To blame Under for his lack of production is foolish. Wingers need good strikers to finish and the decline of Eden Dzeko and the ineptitude of Patrick Schick are the reasons Under’s numbers dropped. It is good business to never sell low and selling Under right now would be a horrible mistake as the winger will certainly have a stronger 2019-2020 campaign. I have identified Under as one of the few young players Roma needs to build around, the others being Zaniolo and Pellegrini.

Future with Roma: Buy 100%

Profile: Nicolo Zaniolo

Position: Winger/Attacking Midfielder

Appearances: 27

Summary: The emergence of Zaniolo was a bright spot during a dark season for Roma. We got to see exactly what the prodigy was capable of on the international stage when he scored a brace against Porto in the Champions League. If Roma decides to sell Zaniolo to Juventus or either Milan club there are going to be a lot of disillusioned fans who might give up on the team for the next few years, and it would be hard to blame them for defecting. Zaniolo is the type of player you hope to build a team around and his ability to play multiple positions is intriguing, to say the least. I don’t believe his future is at winger even though that is where he has proved most effective. Management and fans need to temper expectations however as I believe there is a bit of ‘shiny new toy’ syndrome going around. Zaniolo is highly unlikely to score double-digit goals next year and sophomore slumps are a real thing. Let’s let Nicolo develop properly, make his contributions, and be careful about his next contract.

Future with Roma: Buy 100%


Profile: Bryan Cristante

Position: Midfielder

Appearances: 35

Summary: Cristante’s low offensive numbers are likely from the fact that the defense had a hard time transitioning to the offense, and when the midfield did have the ball, there was never a reliable striker available to put the ball in the back of the net. Cristante is young and has decent potential; he will be a fixture on Rome’s midfield next year. If Atalanta finishes in the top four they might want Cristante back, and if the price is right, I would be willing to let him go as I see Pellegrini as the more viable long term option at midfield.

Future with Roma: Buy 80%


Profile: Lorenzo Pellegrini

Position: Midfielder

Appearances: 25

Summary: Pellegrini, like Cristante, flashed potential and gave us a glance at things to come. After their first season together I believe Pellegrini has the chance to become the better player long-term. Two years younger than Cristante, Pellegrini is the more accurate and a more opportunistic midfielder. Pellegrini also helps Roma in other ways, committing half as many fouls as Cristante but drawing twice as many, certainly the sign of an intelligent player. As I’ve mentioned before, I see Pellegrini along with Zaniolo and Under being core pieces of Roma’s offense for the next five to ten years, transfer rumors be damned.

Future with Roma: Buy 100%

Profile: Ante Coric

Position: Attacking Midfielder

Appearances: 2

Summary: Poor Ante Coric. I originally put the recent Roma signee here are a joke but Coric highlights a lot of what is wrong with the current state of Roma. Coric left his native Croatia for a shot at establishing himself in a more prominent league. That shot never came, and while Rome suffered through the long season, Coric sat there and watched. I’ve never heard Coric mutter a bad word against Roma, as perhaps he had been promised more playing time next season. We have little to no data to judge how good or how bad Coric is and since he’s buried so deep in the depth chart that I’m guessing he’ll quietly ask for a loan or be sold outright. Right now, Coric is a reminder of the damage Monchi did to this team, buying players for a coach that had no intention of ever using them.

Future with Roma: Sell 80%


Profile: Alessandro Florenzi

Position: Midfielder, Defender, RB

Appearances: 29

Summary: Florenzi is one of the most maddening players to watch. When he’s on, he’s really on. When he’s off, you’re begging for Rick Karsdorp to get healthy as soon as possible. A disappointing year for Roma was also a relatively disappointing season for Florenzi. He’s only 28 years old, so I would expect him to have a bounce-back season in 2019-2020 if the club can stabilize the coaching situation and purchase a reliable striker. With Manolas likely on his way out, now is not the time to be jettisoning a player like Florenzi who can provide adequate defense when needed.

Future with Roma: Buy 100% Will be Roma’s next captain.


Profile: Steven N’Zonzi

Position: Defensive Midfielder

Appearances: 30

Summary: I originally had N’Zonzi as “Sell 85%” before DDR was pushed out after the Parma game, now everything has changed. Roma is in desperate need of a defensive midfielder and despite N’Zonzi’s shortcomings and serious lack of offense, he is desperately needed for his sound defense and experience. I do not see Monchi prying N’Zonzi away back to Sevilla based solely on Roma’s organizational need. If N’Zonzi goes, there will be one, perhaps two defensive midfielders rotating in and out all season long to see who can replace DDR as well as N’Zonzi. The quick fix for this solution is to hire an offensively minded coach.

Future with Roma: Buy 90%

The Defense

Profile: Kostas Manolas

Position: Defender, CB

Appearances: 28

Summary: Rome’s best defender bar none. If you’ve followed Roma for any amount time that fact alone is certainly cause for fear as you know what is likely to happen. Manolas has made it known that he wants to stay in Rome but any agent or public relations specialist in modern day sports coaches their clients to lie and say they want to retire with whatever team they currently claim allegiance to. Don’t be mad, that’s just the way things are. Manolas is frankly too good for next year’s squad who will not see the UCL and perhaps not even the UEL. This is the most difficult Buy or Sell simply because nobody wants to see Manolas leave but will completely understand why, in the prime of his career, he would take a higher salary if offered the opportunity. After Barcelona’s recent epic collapse at the hands of their defense and Real Madrid seemingly falling into obscurity (by their standards) I would not be surprised at all to see either taking a flyer on the Greek defender. His absence during the final game of the season against Parma leads me to believe there’s already a handshake deal or at least whisperings of him playing somewhere else next season.

Future with Roma: My Heart Says Buy 100%; My Brain Says Sell 75%


Profile: Federico Fazio

Position: Defender, CB

Appearances: 34

Summary: Thirty-one appearances for Fazio is far too many for the lanky Argentine. Fazio’s weaknesses were covered by Kostas Manolas and Alisson Becker in 2017-2018. This season we saw exactly how incapable Fazio was of leading the defense or even getting back in time due to his slow pace. Like Schick, Fazio is likely destined for a lesser league where he will not be required to defend against decent competition.

Future with Roma: Sell 100%


Profile: Rick Karsdorp

Position: Defender, RB

Appearances: 11

Summary: Karsdorp was decent in a limited return to Rome. The oft-injured defender showed promise in a short season, unfortunately, his health will always be a question mark going forward. Unless Roma is willing to spend on an established RB or move Florenzi to that position permanently, Karsdorp will likely start next season.

Future with Roma: Buy 75%

Profile: Aleksandr Kolarov

Position: Defender, LB

Appearances: 33

Summary: Kolarov, a defender, was Roma’s second deadliest marksman. People who criticize Kolarov’s defense need to remember that sometimes you have to sacrifice defensive positioning in order to score goals. The second oldest player on the team deserves to come back for another season. Roma is lucky to have the Serbian national team captain’s leadership, letting him walk, even at his age, would be a horrible mistake.

Future with Roma: Buy 95%


Profile: Davide Santon

Position: Defender, LB

Appearances: 17

Summary: Santon, in my opinion, was Roma’s third-best defender after Manolas and Kolarov. Whenever Santon plays the defense seems a bit more solidified and confident. Like Kluivert, Santon did not receive enough playing time, and that I believe is a failure on coaching. I would be surprised if Serie A pro scouts did not notice Santon’s effectiveness and are already plotting on poaching the defenseman.

Future with Roma: Buy 75%


Profile: Juan Jesus

Position: Defender, CB

Appearances: 20

Summary: Fans were forced to play Russian roulette with two bullets this year named Federico Fazio and Juan Jesus. Jesus was not as noticeably terrible as Fazio but I would not be surprised to see the purge begin with Jesus who is relatively young for a defender and has several options if he wants to play in South America. Ivan Marcano did little until the very end of the season to impress anyone but at this point, he’s a much more viable option at backup center back than Jesus.

Future with Roma: Sell 100%

The Goalkeeping

Profile: Robin Olsen

Position: Goalkeeper

Appearances: 27

Summary: A strong start to the season was undone by mid and late season gaffes. Olsen reportedly fell out of favor with Ranieri after it was revealed he had not yet learned to speak Italian. The goalkeeper is often the commander of the defense, so not being able to communicate with the back four is unforgivable. Backup goaltender Antonio Mirante seemed more in command and just as skilled as Olsen. Unfortunately, Mirante is 35 and is more of a stop-gap than a starting keeper. Roma will have trouble finding a suitor to pay Olsen’s wages unless a Scandinavian team is desperate to have him back.

Future with Roma: Sell 100%



Profile: Claudio Ranieri

Position: Coach

Appearances: 12

Summary: Ranieiri publically announced that he would not return to Roma next season as the head coach. Ranieri was brought in to salvage Roma’s season and finish in the top four, a tall order for the elder Ranieri who inherited a lackluster squad coming off some embarrassing losses. Roma did not impress under Ranieri’s tutelage but they also did not entirely disappoint considering the circumstances. Draws against Fiorentina, Genoa, and Inter essentially eliminated Roma from top four contention. With Roma out of the top four and possibly missing the Europa League, Ranieri could be the best option for Roma, going with the devil they know. However, Ranieri has made it quite clear that he is not willing to accept a non-head coaching job, something within the organization that will see him carry our diminished duties. Ranieri isn’t the best option, but he isn’t the worst. It’s a hard pill to swallow but Italy’s capital is just not an attractive place for top coaches.

Future with Roma: Already Determined. Will not return to the club in a capacity less than current role.

The Captain

Profile: Daniele De Rossi

Position: Defensive Midfielder

Appearances: 18

Summary: It is with great sorrow that we announce DDR will not be back with Roma next season. What else can be said about the captain? We know him, we love him, and he has been one of the best defensive midfielders in Serie A over the past two decades. De Rossi stayed true to Rome and will always be a Roma player despite wherever he goes next season. I personally thought DDR was good and effective enough to play one more season, but it appears the powers that be obviously disagree with me. Florenzi will take the captaincy into next season and the likelihood that N’Zonzi sticks around just increased by quite a bit. De Rossi’s situation will be talked about ad nauseum over the summer, as it should be because it highlights the total disconnect between ownership and the players.

Future with Roma: Already Determined. Possibly linked to MLS/EPL

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About Robert Theodorson 21 Articles
Robert Theodorson has previously covered NHL prospects on Hockey's Future and a multitude of sports and teams on Bleacher Report.

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