There was a time, not that long ago, when AS Roma was among the most Italian of teams in all of Italy. Led by the likes of Francesco Totti, Daniele De Rossi, Simone Perrotta, Christian Panucci, Marco Cassetti, Marco Borriello, Max Tonetto and Vincenzo Montella, there weren’t many teams on the peninsula with as many Fratelli D’Italia as Roma. Despite not taking home the title, Roma’s Italianess was a badge of honor, a symbol that they did it the right way, securing and nurturing local talent rather than scouring the globe for the likes of Ronaldo, Figo, Nedved etc.
While it didn’t quite take all the sting out of those string of second place finishes in the early to mid 2000s, it was a feather in our cap, one which we gladly waved in the faces of our northern neighbors. But whether it was due to a natural downturn in that local talent pool, or simply an increase in disposable income, Roma has become, for better or worse, more cosmopolitan.
Despite influx of Belgians and Brazilians, Roma still (remarkably) is led by three local yokels, Totti, De Rossi and Alessandro Florenzi, each of whom are all one could ask of a standard bearer for the club, the city and its fans. However, there is a sizeable section of the fanbase that clamors for the days of old, back when Roma was not only Italian, but fully Roman. The sense of pride and ingenuity that came along with that was and is immeasurable, and it's a phenomenon that brought many of us to the club to begin with.
So, while we know practically nothing about him, Roma’s new Director of Sport, Frederic Massara, who apparently goes by Ricky, has reportedly issued an edict: Make Roma More Italian!
The first salvo in this return to Roma’s roots may be Riccardo Saponara, Empoli’s 24-year-old attacking midfielder. While he has struggled mightily thus far this season, Saponara was an up and comer last year, scoring five goals and doling out an impressive 11 assists. No facts and figures were mentioned in this rumor, but on the surface it seems to make sense, if for no other reason than Roma are in dire need of another creative midfielder. The rumor, as it goes, would see Gerson go the other way on loan; why Roma wouldn’t just play Gerson to begin with is beyond me, but there it is.
If Masarra manages to land Saponara and bring back the likes of Federico Ricci and Matteo Politano, Roma might soon be dripping in Italians.