Editor's note: As this is only our second U23 countdown, it remains very much a work in progress. Due to some impending sales and purchases, our top ten is currently in flux and we may have to promote an honorable mention candidate, but we're kicking it off with Pellegrini, who Roma reportedly hold an option on in the future
Number Ten: Lorenzo Pellegrini
Height: 1.86 m
Position: Central Midfield
Previous Club: AS Roma Youth
Current Club: Sassuolo
Future Comparison: Miralem Pjanic
Who Is He?
Pellegrini captained Roma's primavera squad last season, which reached the semi finals of the UEFA Youth League, beating the likes of Ajax and Manchester City in the process. Pellegrini tallied one goal and an assist in nine UEFA Youth League games, and managed 11 goals in 40 appearances in the primavera league for Roma. Pellegrini also has international experience playing for the Azzurrini, having scored one goal in 15 appearances for the U19 squad.
What Can He Do?
As previously mentioned, Pellegrini was the captain of the primavera squad last season, showing that he has potentially great leadership qualities. Whoever wears the captain's armband is generally a leader on and off the field (except for that one time Pablo Osvaldo somehow received the illustrious honor). Pellegrini played like a captain last year, netting 14 goals and an assist in 67 total appearances over various competitions. He scored the winning goal in the quarterfinals of the UEFA Youth League against Manchester City, check out the absolutely stunning goal below:
While Pellegrini's strength is his goal contributions from the midfield and his overall leadership, he seems to lack discipline sometimes, as evidenced by the decent amount of yellow cards he accumulated last season. Pellegrini had 20 yellow cards in 67 appearances. He played 5,413 minutes last season, which means that he received a yellow card roughly every 270 minutes, or three games. Those numbers aren't horrible by any means, but it's something to be weary of going forward, especially with the Serie A yellow card ban rules being changed recently to punish repeat offenders even more.
What Can He Become?
Pellegrini just recently turned 19, so he still has a lot of time to develop and fulfill his potential. If he can string together a few good seasons at Sassuolo, establishing himself as an integral part of the midfield there, he could come back and enjoy plenty of first team football with Roma. Sassuolo has a reputation for developing youth, which means Pellegrini's move to the club could help him become at least a serviceable backup upon returning to Roma.
If Pellegrini doesn't pan out, well, at least Roma made a little over one million euros selling him to Sassuolo earlier this summer. Should Pellegrini fulfill his potential and return to Roma in a few years though, he probably wouldn't displace anyone directly, but would rather play the role of midfield sub that starlets Salih Ucan and Leandro Paredes currently play.