Lorenzo Pellegrini has made quite the impression since returning to Roma this summer after his two seasons away from the capital at Sassuolo. Pellegrini has begun to earn playing time in Roma’s midfield trio which already features world class caliber players in Daniele De Rossi, Radja Nainggolan, and Kevin Strootman. Pellegrini started the season with a couple of cameo appearances. However, with solid performances he has begun to feature more and more.
Pellegrini was Roma’s best midfielder on Sunday vs Milan after he came on to replace an injured Strootman 30 minutes into the match. It was Pellegrini’s assist that even helped Edin Dzeko open the scoring in a crucial 2-0 win at the San Siro. Pellegrini has been so impressive of late that according to the English media both Manchester United and City have scouted him recently. (See below)
Pellegrini has also begun to gain more exposure in the Italy set up heading into next summer’s World Cup in Russia. The 21 year old earned his first Italy start back in June against Liechtenstein and has to continued to receive call ups since; including a call up for this weekend’s last two qualifiers. However, after the Milan match Pellegrini had to withdraw from the Italy roster due to a knock that he picked up during the game.
The good news is that reports today say Pellegrini will be back to full fitness in 7-10 days. This puts him in line to be ready for the big match next Saturday against first place Napoli. However, the injury comes at an unfortunate time for Pellegrini. Obviously any time a 21 year gets called up for Italy it’s a big deal for the player. However, I think this weekend’s matches would’ve been a greater opportunity than usual for him for a couple of reasons.
To begin, regular Italy starters Marco Verratti and De Rossi had to pull out of the Italy squad with injuries of their own. This means Pellegrini would’ve had a good shot at replacing one of the aforementioned midfielders in one or both of the matches, likely alongside Marco Parolo in central midfield. Also, with Italy only needing one point out of the two matches this weekend to lock up a qualifying playoff spot; Ventura should have more flexibilty to tinker with the lineup and give some young players looks that they wouldn’t normally be afforded in “must win” qualifiers. If Pellegrini were to have played and continued the form that he’s been displaying with Roma then it could’ve gone a long way in solidifying a roster spot in next month’s playoff matches and possibly June’s World Cup.
In the end this will be far from the last opportunity that Pellegrini receives to play for Italy. However, I think it was a sort of golden opportunity to cement his place in the Italy rotation at only 21 years old with Verratti and De Rossi out. If Pellegrini continues to impress with Roma this season then I think he will likely make the World Cup roster as I don’t see many central midfield options better than him for Italy these days. I just wish we could’ve gotten a look at him in Azzurri this weekend since he’s in such great form. However, most importantly, I’m looking forward to seeing him grow into a star at Roma, as well as, Italy for years to come.