The next campaign is underway in less than a month. What can fans look forward to?
Who will be the team’s striker?
Inter recently announced that they’ve successfully pulled Lukaku away from Manchester United for a hefty fee of 70 million Euros. Icardi had previously fallen out of favor with Milan while new manager Antonio Conte made it quite clear that he has no future with Inter. If Conte’s words were not enough the Lukaku signing was the proverbial nail going into the coffin for Icardi’s career in Milan.
Eden Dzeko and Patrik Schick still remain at Roma despite summer-long rumors of one or possibly both being shown the door. Fernando Llorente, who was recently brought in on a free transfer makes Schick redundant as a backup striker. Dzeko is still a premier talent and capable striker but his unhappiness at Roma has been well documented over the past year. Gregoire Defrel remains a tertiary option as it appears he will not go back to Sampdoria.
The ideal scenario for Rome and Milan would be a Dzeko-Icardi swap with Roma needing to add to get the deal done. Neither camp would like to start the season later this month with either player on their team. Of the two, Dzeko is much more likely to stay put as Icardi would have suitors in almost every league around the world. Even in the event that Icardi is bought, Rome still maintains too many strikers and will need to send Schick or Defrel out on loan.
Where will Florenzi play?
Roma’s newest captain looks set to return to the RB slot under new coach Paulo Fonseca’s system. Rome will start the 2019-2020 season with a revamped midfield that suddenly and surprisingly finds itself with a considerable amount of depth. Getting these new midfield acquisitions playing time and keeping them happy is paramount not only to the current squad’s morale and chemistry, but it also shows future would-be Roma players that the team is willing to give them a fair shot with regards to playing time at their natural positions. It is for that reason that I do not expect Florenzi to officially be played on the right side at midfield, however due to his prowess and flexibility to be everywhere on the pitch he will often be seen playing in tandem with the midfielders so long as the offense remains fluid and Roma aren’t on their heels.
With Rick Karsdorp recently sent off on a yearlong loan to Feyenoord, Florenzi will likely start and spend most of his time in the role of an attacking defender. Newcomer Leonardo Spinazzola recently played RB in preseason action, which should allow Florenzi additional flexibility on a game by game basis. Expect the captain to regularly move up to RW when Under is not on the field, especially if Fonseca is reluctant to move Kluivert to his off-wing.
How much better is this year’s squad?
Starting with building the team from the net out, Pau Lopez represents hope for a team that quickly became disillusioned with the short-lived post-Alisson era. Lopez has appeared in 33 Liga games while recording 10 clean sheets and only conceding 47 goals for a total of 1.4 goals per game. If that number can stay consistent or drop, it’s not too much to ask for the rest of the squad to score 2 goals a game.
The defense was overhauled for better or worse. The most notable departure was, of course, Kostas Manolas who was the most reliable centre-back Roma has had in recent years. Juventus product, Leonardo Spinazzola provides depth at left-back behind Kolarov but can play both sides. Atalanta transfer Gianluca Mancini should have no problem earning the starter’s job at CB and I expect Davide Santon to rise up the depth chart and along with Mancini become Rome’s starting central defenders. Juan Jesus and Fazio are a better fit at providing relief off the bench.
Highly touted Florence product Jordan Veretout will join ex-Napoli youngster Amadou Diawara as newcomers to Rome’s midfield. Veretout is the more established player with a highlight reel of long passing but Diawara has a chance to prove himself as an exciting substitute in 2019-2020. Roma fans anxiously await to see Ante Coric can get playing time while the trio of Nicolò Zaniolo, Lorenzo Pellegrini, and Bryan Cristante seem unlikely to be unseated as the preferred starters.
Top scorer Stephan El Shaarawy made a surprise exit for China of all places which leaves Justin Kluivert as the main man at LW. Kluivert performed spectacularly in limited minutes last season and will be a welcome boost of speed and youth on the offense.