There's been a lot of talk recently over the potential transfer of French attacker Gregoire Defrel to Roma, and for good reason: Roma is in need of an extra attacker, especially with Mohamed Salah at the African Cup of Nations. But what if that extra attacker is already at the club, and just so happens to be one of the best U-20 Italian strikers out there? And what if it turns out that Roma has two of those?
Roma's Primavera squad doesn't get much press time, which makes sense: even if the Giallorossi had a manager that made youth development a priority, the vast majority of Roma youth players would not see one minute of senior play time. For most of these players, the youth system is a way to showcase talent to the point where a smaller club becomes interested in their services. Every now and then, though, there's an exception to this rule; there's a graduating class that shows real promise, one that could yield two, maybe even three first-team players. This current crop of Primavera players may just be such a class.
Roma have an embarrassment of riches in their Primavera team at the moment. Central defender Riccardo Marchizza, midfielder Alessandro Bordin and Senegalese forward Sidy Coly Keba all look quite promising, but perhaps the two best prospects on the youth team right now are Marco Tumminello and Edoardo Soleri (of Sicily and Rome, respectively). Their attacking dominance in all of the Primavera squad's competitions have turned Alberto De Rossi's squad into a dominant force. In the past year, the Primavera have won the Campionato Primavera and the Supercoppa Primavera while also reaching the final of the Coppa Italia Primavera for two years in a row, and much of that comes down to the sheer number of footballs both players have sent into the opposing side's net. The 18-year-old Tumminello has scored sixteen goals in fourteen appearances so far this season, while 19-year-old Soleri has scored nineteen in twenty matches. Video of both is admittedly hard to come by (it's not like millions are glued to their television sets to watch U-19 Italian football matches), but the whispers around Trigoria make it clear that both are considered hot prospects for the future.
Which brings us to the senior squad's current needs. The Roma Rumor Reviewers have cycled through a veritable Rogue's Gallery of options for a forward who can give Edin Dzeko some much-deserved rest. Everyone from Defrel to Deulofeu, from Jesé to Juan Iturbe (just kidding about that last one) have been put forward as a potential option. The trickiest part about each of these potential transfers, however, is always the price tag: Sassuolo want as much as €22 million for Defrel, and most of the other forwards mentioned as a possible vice-Dzeko have either transferred clubs already (Deulofeu, despite some hiccups) or appear to have their hearts set on another (Jesé with Las Palmas, his boyhood club). As a result, Roma probably won't get the striker it really wants unless it forks over the big bucks for a player who would hopefully only act as a rotational player. Financially speaking, a big money move for a backup striker just won't be on the cards - unless Jimmy Pallotta (no relation) happens to find a couple million euros hiding in a couch at the Olimpico. Logically, this would seem to indicate that a Primavera promotion is written in the stars - if Luciano Spalletti recognizes the abundance of riches he has waiting for him in the youth squad.
So do us all a solid, Luciano. Promote the young guns. Worst-case scenario, send them back to the Primavera squad after a couple weeks to gain some maturity. Best-case scenario? You've just kickstarted the career of a future Italian great.