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Starting XI, Amantino Extends & Juicy Gossip

144636.jpgIn case you missed it, I wrapped up the friendly draw with Bayer Leverkusen after the game ended yesterday, which is here. But honestly, since we couldn't view the game there wasn't much to speak of. Don't know if it's worth your time. Game highlights here, courtesy of loyal Roma video scavenger, Stefan.

Starting XI: After two friendlies and a couple weeks of training, I figured it's a good time to take a look at the probable starting lineup for next season, provided the team stays as constituted (which it won't). I'm sure some major moves will be made in the next 24 hours just to spite me. I'm having a big problem with Murphy's Law as of late. That Murphy guy was a bastard. The rundown:

Panucci, Mexes, Juan, Tonetto;
De Rossi, Pizarro;
Taddei, Perrotta, Mancini;

GK: Unless Gilu Curci matures like 3 years and hits his ceiling overnight, Doni is the starter. Despite his erratic play and decision making at times, he can also be Roma's saving grace. He's the #1, much to the dismay of cardiologists all across the world.

RB: Christian Panucci is here, and should be here even with the addition of another RB (meaning Cicinho). If another RB is acquired, there will more than likely be a platoon situation where neither is really considered the "starter." Unless of course they shock the world and pick up a Dani Alves or the like. Marco Cassetti is a quality backup, but isn't really good enough to push Panucci.

CB: Pencil Philippe Mexes' name in here for the next few years, most likely Juan as well. Matteo Ferrari is a quality 3rd option, and the CB position will see some strong rotation throughout the year. Especially considering Mexes' proclivity for pretty colored messages from the refs. It isn't Marco Andreolli's time yet, but down the line he'll make a significant push for one of those spots (provided he sticks around).

LB: At the moment, Max Tonetto is the only name here. Depending on the other LB coming in (Modesto, Dede or otherwise), this position could have the most shakeup. Modesto would be an apprentice, while a guy like Dede would be a partner. Still to be played out, but Tonetto deserves the bulk of the starts.

DM1: You can jackhammer Daniele De Rossi's name into the midfield at the Olimpico for the next ten years or so. And I couldn't be happier.

David Pizarro will have this slot for the time being, but will be pressed by Alberto Aquilani as the season goes on. He and De Rossi are the future of Roma's midfield.

LW: Mancini. Period.

RW: Probably the toughest position to predict, but Taddei has done nothing to show he deserves to lose this spot at the beginning of the season - at least to me. I honestly believe each given matchday's starter will be determined by whom Spalletti feels is the best option against the opposition and their tactics that day. Ludovic Giuly seems to me to be an ideal late game sub who can bring an added dimension of speed and off the ball runs when the defense gets tired. Mauro Esposito provides similar attributes, but does have very good skill with the ball at his feet and is very dangerous when cutting in, so he doesn't need a tired defense to reach his optimum level. My feeling is if Spalletti does bring in an attack minded RB like Cicinho, then Taddei would get most of the starts partnering with him, because Rodrigo can provide an added layer of defensive assistance when Cicinho is shadowing Totti and parking his barcalounger in the 6 yard box.

CM: Simone Perrotta will not be challenged for his starting spot, but Aquilani and Matteo Brighi will see their fair share of time here. And can you imagine how insane Simone will go with a big increase in rest this year? We'll have to start calling him The Human Pinball.

ST: I hear that Totti guy's pretty decent.

Mancini Extends:

Amantino has reportedly extended his contract another 4 years until 2012, great news for everybody. Still lacking the particulars, but I believe it's the same thing as Mexes, €2.5m base with easily attainable bonuses - games played, stepovers done, last name Mancini, etc. That type of stuff. So no more issues with a cornerstone player approaching the last year of his contract next summer. I, for one, am breathing a huge sigh of relief. I couldn't handle Mancinigate.

More details when they're released.

The Gossip:

I) There are faint whispers that Francesco Modesto may be unveiled today as Roma's latest signing. To the shock of absolutely no one. I'm going to need to see him sign a contract signed in blood on the grounds of the Olimpico before I believe it.

II) Big congratulations to Philou. Carla gave birth to their second child yesterday, a young lady named Eva. I'm happy for Philippe and all, but disappointed that we're still waiting for Enzo's partner in that 2030 AS Roma central defense. You can see in that pic he's already looking for trouble like his daddy.

III) The all-powerful all-knowing Prophet Ernesto Bronzetti has decided to let his wisdom be known, saying Cicinho wants to come to Roma at all costs. Now this is great news, because someone who actually knows what is actually going on is confirming up until now what were baseless rumors. Still, everybody seems to be denying that Roma has made even an inquisitory phone call to Madrid. Which probably means nothing, we all know how slowly they work. I really expect this to happen within two weeks. Real Madrid seems to have been getting business done relatively quickly this summer, at least with the Chivu and Pepe negotiations.

IV) Speaking of Cici, Il Capitano has made his feelings be known, even calling up Cicinho personally to get his ass to Rome ASAP. Hey, if Totti wants him badly enough to pick up his Vodafone and recruit him, then Roma damn well better listen. (Didn't this already happen once this summer with Giuly? Hmmmm....)

V) A deal could be completed as soon as tomorrow sending Aleandro Rosi to Livorno on co-ownership, to the tune of €2m. It's about time he starts getting some significant playing time. I'd be hoping for more of a loan if it does happen, but €2m will help with whatever else they decide to do. And that's a lot of Gucci handbag knockoffs for Prade. Oops, I meant Rosella. I think.

VI) Most media outlets are reporting that Borussia Dortmund has closed off all talks regarding Dede. What's that, page two of the "How to Negotiate a Transfer With Another Club Manifesto"? Discussions are never closed permanently. Even though I think everyone expects the LB coming in to be Modesto.

Remember when Cicinho was "impossible"? Don't believe the hype. Especially about crack cocaine. Just trust me.

VII) There were some rumblings last week that Napoli would be meeting with Roma management regarding Matteo Brighi today. Matteo's like that girl who was kind of cute but "fluffy" in high school and freshman year in college. Then she leaves for the summer, starts hitting the treadmill, eating 3 leaves of lettuce per meal and having daily colon cleanses, and shows up for the first day of sophomore year looking good. Real good. Damn good, in fact. Now everybody wants her and her stupid boyfriend who never appreciated her enough in the first place is desperately trying to keep her. (You know the girl)

Matteo (hot/fluffy girl): Amy Smart in a fat suit
Roma (boyfriend): Jonah Hill
Napoli, Reggina, etc (everybody else): Paul Walker
Colon Cleanse: Christian Wilhelmsson

Apologies to muddia, thrown together very last minute.