Unless Walter Sabatini drops the mic on his Serie A cohorts again, today figures to be a slow news day, though with Wolfsburg refusing to admit defeat in their pursuit of Mattia Destro and the embers of the Xherdan Shaqiri-to-Roma rumors still glowing, you never know. In the meantime, let's take a quick look at what some of Roma's finest have had to say over the past 24 hours.
Yesterday's match against Inter was a letdown in every sense of the word, from Dodo actually looking like a professional to the dreary crowd to the dismal display on the pitch, it just wasn't a productive day for Rudi Garcia and Roma.
But what does Garcia think of his squad's pre-season thus far?
Garcia: 'Almost nothing positive'
The principle objective of this US tour was to work on our tempo and physical fitness...Apart from that, the games show we still have a lot to work on. It was good to face up to these important opponents...Everyone could've done better today and we should've moved the ball around much faster. We had too many touches, making our play predictable and easy to read.
We played against a well-organised Inter side and never managed to catch them out of position. This must act as a real warning for the team. It's a friendly, fine, but when we are in a competitive match we cannot play like this.There was almost nothing positive. It's a very long road before we can be ready for the start of the season
Hard to argue with anything Garcia has to say here. He deftly calmed everyone's nerves by reminding us that it was, indeed, a friendly, yet stressed that lessons can and should be drawn from Roma's performances over the past two weeks.
Of course, the reason so many of us have been up in arms over this U.S. tour is simply because Roma appear to, at long last, be legitimate contenders to Italy's throne, a fact not lost on Daniele De Rossi.
De Rossi: 'Title not easy for Roma'
This year for the first time I will say we have to target the Scudetto, but targeting is not the same as achieving and it’s not as easy as people think. From what I hear people seem to say Inter are weak and Juve without Conte are an amateur team. On top of that, Romanisti might make fun of Lazio, but they have constructed a good squad, while Fiorentina recovered two important players like Giuseppe Rossi and Mario Gomez.
Our objective is the Scudetto, but it won’t be easy
Perhaps its the scraggly beard or the indelible dedication to the Teletubbies on his arm, but we tend to forget how insightful DDR can be. In this instance, he's dead-right. Roma have every right to believe they are Scudetto contenders, but we can't simply slag off their chief rivals. Lazio has made a couple of nice moves, the return of Rossi and Gomez gives the Viola a nearly unparalleled scoring duo possessing both speed and size, while Juve--dai, dai, dai or not--is still the three-time defending champion, one who hasn't lost all that much on the pitch, despite Antonio Conte's resignation.
Chiellini wary of Roma Scudetto threat
Roma and Napoli aim for the Scudetto and have reinforced. Roma have always been very close to us, but last year we did something unrepeatable and Roma could have won the Scudetto so they don’t have anything to blame for. We are still in first row with Roma and Napoli for the title. They have made good signings, and so have we but the transfer market hasn't ended yet
Italy's front row, as Chiellini calls it, is incredibly packed as Roma, Juve and Napoli can all lay a legitimate claim to being title contenders. Given that proximity, the last month of the transfer market, as it often the case, may very well decide who comes out on top, with departures playing just as big a role, if not more, than additions. So not only should we keep an eye on Destro, Mehdi Benatia and Adem Ljajic, but also Arturo Vidal and Paul Pogba, as a sale of any one of those players can dramatically tilt the Italian landscape.
De Sanctis says he will be ready for the start of the season
MDS gave quite an interview to the Roma Channel recently, touching on everything from Lukasz Skorupski to the American ownership.
On this season:
I will return very soon. Barring any unforeseen circumstances, I'll be at the complete disposal of Rudi Garcia on August 30. The coach mentioned hierarchies, I have often talked to him, the esteem is the result of what happens on the field. From August 30 we will return to get serious
We are well mixed with young and experienced players both in defense, midfield and attack, the roster is structured to play the three competitions. All this optimism around us is the result of an last year's outstanding job that has continued this summer. There have to be sweat and humility. We can not expect to be stronger than what we are. Aware of our means, but the key word is humility, with that hopefully we will reach better results than last year
MDS, much like DDR (this team is easily acronym-ized), seems to be approaching the season with pragmatic optimism; the pieces are there, but we cannot assume anything. Very smart and exactly what you'd want one of the leaders of the club to say.
I still think that Skorupski, with the necessary improvements and application, can represent the present and the future of Roma. He has the opportunity to work with Nanni who is an excellent coach and to stay in a team of champions. These are all things that make him a privileged, he must not miss this opportunity to be at Roma at 23 with prospects, this happens once in a lifetime
With all the hoopla about Roma coveting Simone Scuffet and Mattia Perin, might the club already have its keeper of the future? MDS certainly seems to think the blueprint is there, and we've talked it about it many times; all the physical tools are there, Skorupski just needs to buff out the rough edges. If he can put all the pieces together, he would be an integral part of, as MDS suggests, an impressive cadre of young twenty-somethings that could usher in an era of unprecedented success.
Front and center in that youth movement is Juan Iturbe. Roma's new #7 has had an up and down pre-season, but none other than Luca Toni, a man with direct knowledge of what Iturbe brings to a side, sung his praises
Toni Praise for Iturbe
A great deal for Roma, he would get past 4-5 men and serve the ball, just like Ribery. He's got a great quality, he can evade his marker. He made a difference with us, now it's up to him
If Iturbe can't live up to the expectations of being the "New Messi", I think we'd all take the "New Ribery" as a consolation prize, right? While Roma's offense looked dormant over the past two weeks, the thought of Iturbe and Gervinho racing up and down the flanks should be enough to cure those ails.
Toni certainly benefitted from Iturbe pace and playmaking last season, but I'd disagree with him slightly; its not purely up to him. Given what a substantial investment they made in Iturbe, it is imperative that Roma put him in a position to succeed--€30m doesn't mean he's an every week starter, it doesn't mean that the offense flows through him and it doesn't mean he's Roma's best player.
Rudi Garcia must, to a certain extent, treat him with kid gloves. He won't command as much of the ball in Roma as he did in Verona, so he needs to learn how to pick his spots, when to assert himself and when to be patient, how to feed off of his more experienced teammates, how to tackle the ebbs and flows of public opinion, and how to become the superstar many believe he can be.
Too much too soon will damn this deal for everyone involved.
That's it for now, more news as it breaks.