Around the Chiesa di Totti we revel in many things, chief among them our patron saint Francesco Totti. Not far behind The King of Rome dwells our affection for Roma's always impressive stockpile of young talent, and yes, more often than not those kids are used as transfer fodder, but every so often we see an Alessandro Florenzi bust through and make his mark. With the likes of Gerson, Ezequiel Ponce and even Alisson eager to make their mark on the Eternal City this summer, expectations and anxiety will be as high as ever, for the kids and for the fans. When you operate on a shoestring budget, you need cheap players to perform early and often.
While Gerson and Ponce have the pedigree and cache, it seems as though Roman born Federico Ricci will get first crack at impressing Luciano Spalletti. Ricci, 22-years-old, was instrumental in securing Crotone's first ever Serie A promotion, banging home 11 goals and chipping in 8 assists from the wing last season.
We've chronicled Ricci's rise intermittently over the past few years, most notably as the #10 prospect in our inaugural U23 countdown. Ricci's play was impressive enough to earn a token debut with the senior team in December of 2013 when he came on for fellow Roman Florenzi. While that call up didn't lead to an immediate role, his time with Crotone was well spent.
Ricci has made 60 appearances in all competitions for Crotone over the past two seasons, featuring as a left winger, right winger and even a center forward, scoring 12 goals and 9 assists along the way.
Ricci isn't the world's greatest prospect, nor Roma's, but his pace, versatility and ability to pick out a pass certainly makes him one of the club's more intriguing prospects. So while we don't know exactly what constitutes an 'evaluation', if Spalletti deems him fit for service, he could be an affordable and effective rotation piece this coming season.
If not, then who knows. Perhaps he stays on for Crotone's maiden season, perhaps he gets sold to the highest bidder, or perhaps he's just another name among many, but the mere fact that he's been singled out by Spalletti for a closer look is certainly an encouraging sign.
In the face of mounting sales, and with the club's very identity under constant scrutiny, there's only one cure: more Romans.