We continue our top ten prospect countdown by taking a turn down under. That's right, number nine in our countdown is Roma's inaugural Aussie, Daniel De Silva a/k/a The Dude From Down Under, a/k/a DDS, a/k/a The Dentist. This is the part of the program where I must remind you that potential counts nearly as much as anything on this list, and De Silva has loads of it, so don't let his lack of actual experience cloud your judgement.
With that in mind, let's take a look at the kid who has already received praise from Francesco Totti himself.
Number Nine: Daniel De Silva
Previous Club: Perth Glory
Current Club: Roma, probable loan candidate and/or Primavera
Future Comparison: David Silva
Who Is He?
De Silva is an 18-year-old Australian attacking talent, and arguably the most exciting prospect the world's smallest continent/largest island has ever produced, no offense to Harry Kewell. DDS made his professional debut when he was just 15-years-old, coming on as a second half sub in Perth's 2-1 victory over Sydney FC in March 2013. De Silva went on to make 33 appearances and score three goals for his hometown club before Roma snapped him up.
De Silva has also been a fixture for the Socceroos on the youth level, earning caps at the U17 and U20 levels, including a man of the match performance in Australia's 1-1 draw with Colombia at the 2013 FIFA U20 World Cup, so his star is on the rise at the club and country levels.
For a deeper look at his development and what he means to Australian soccer in the larger sense, take a look at our piece from April 2014 when Roma first made inroads for his signature
What Can He Do?
For that answer, I'll refer you to Mr. Totti:
I agree that Daniel is a great prospect with big potential...We've seen that over the two (training) sessions he's done with us. He's a skillful player with a good nose for goal. But of course he's still young. He still has time to progress .
Totti, speaking during Roma's Melbourne excursion, hit the nail on the head. Despite his almost complete lack of a professional resume, DDS passes the eye test. It only took two sessions for Totti to see the potential, but what exactly is De Silva? Is he an attacking mid, a diminutive winger? Both? Neither?
It's a good problem to have and it's precisely that ambiguity that makes him such an exciting prospect; his career can go any number of ways. However, you can see the traits to which Totti was referring in that clip. DDS is skilled on the ball, has a great first touch and exceptional vision and feel for the passing game, yet he doesn't confine himself to merely being the playmaker; he goes after the goal with gusto.
Either way, De Silva's touch, vision and feel for the game should make him an attacking asset of the highest order. Assuming things work out, it's simply a matter of finding a proper role for his considerable talents.
What Can He Become?
This section sort of builds off the future comparison mentioned above, which is, of course, a best case scenario. In addition to having frustratingly similar names, Daniel De Silva profiles to be David Silva-esque player, right down to their similar stature. De Silva's passing, vision, movement, and playmaking could make him a constant threat to crack 10 assists each year, while his nose for the goal could produce half a dozen tallies per campaign. That sort of balance is extremely hard to find, and it's exactly what sets the Totti's and Silva's apart from the pack.
Of course, the actual what/when/where's in this scenario depends on who is pulling the strings by the time De Silva comes of age. He could just as well be a trequartista as a regular left sided midfielder, or he very well may be a second striker, pumping passes to Ezequiel Ponce in the Stadio della Roma while Simone Scuffet goes nuts on the other end (let me dream).
Again, we simply don't know what he'll become (tactically speaking) at this point, but the fact that he's suitable for a range of options is precisely what makes him so special and intriguing. At the end of the day, he seems like the type whose talent will win out regardless of position, and once his understanding of the game catches up with his skill, he may very well receive carte blanche on the pitch anyway, rendering this micro argument moot.
In the immediate sense, Roma needs to find him a proper developmental home, be it in Italy or abroad. He just needs to play and acclimate himself to European competition, to face bigger, stronger and more experienced competition.
De Silva's ceiling is remarkably high and his skill set so vast, it's not inconceivable to imagine him cracking the first team rotation in a year or two.