As we dry our eyes from an emotional Sunday, we look forward to a future without our iconic captain. What better way to usher in the future than to look at one of the prospects set to carry the city’s torch for the next decade. Whilst Totti’s departure signalled the end of an era on the field, Walter Sabatini’s departure a few months back marked the shift towards an analytics based moneyball era championed by James Pallotta. To signify this shift in the club’s recruitment policy, we will attempt to bring the fans similar analytics driven scouting dossiers for our summer prospects. The hope is that detailed analytics will have Roma batting more like Bill Belichick’s New England Patriots and less like the Browns as they assemble a squad to achieve our biggest baddest club delusions. We begin by evaluating the critical skills of the crown jewel of our recent academy graduates.
Lorenzo Pellegrini stands at 186cm tall and is fairly lean. His massive frame alone separates him from most other midfielders. Essentially he is built like our dominating Dutch washing machine and his physical presence would instantly fit well in our intimating of midfielders once his facial hair and muscular composition overcome the limitations of puberty. The Roman native has finished an impressive season with Sassuolo where he accumulated eight (8) goals and seven (7) assists off all competitions. For a comparative matrix to illustrative how good that is, our impressive Dutch appliance ended the season with six (6) goals and seven (7) assists. Lorenzo’s final third productivity has been evident in his primavera days. He has a fierce shot, great technical balance and composure when shooting and the ability to strike the ball expertly with both feet. To underline his confidence on the ball, he once tried to score against Roma from the edge of HIS OWN 18 yard box. He is also amazingly adept at one time long range passes and shots echoing memories of our exiled deity.
Goals and frame alone do not make a great midfielder. A critical evaluation of great modern midfielders reveals an ability to control a game and distribute the ball well is a prerequisite for his role. Lorenzo’s frame allows him to control and shield the ball in tight areas of the field and his distribution is decent enough from a technical point of view but his decision making in ball utilisation leaves a lot to be desired. He completes an average of 75 percent of his passes and attempts a lot of audacious passes whilst averaging less than one (1) key passes a game. Contrast that with Kevin Strootman and Leo Paredes who average 1. 5 key passes a game whilst maintaining a pass completion rates in the high 80s. Team tactics and team quality contribute to such unflattering figures and this is not something that should hinder him a lot in the long term but there will be a learning curve in terms of ball security and decision making. Presently he is more Brett Favre than Alex Smith and though the former will excite the beer guzzlers in the stands (and couches) the latter is more likely to have those bums complaining in the postseason. Not to add too much necessary pressure on the kid but Totti also had a similar completion percentage rate through most of his last few seasons.
Another essential feature of a modern midfielder is the ability to dominate the midfield area physically. In this respect Lorenzo plays in a similar fashion to a young De Rossi. He flies into a lot of tackles and often leads the charge in pressing the opposition hard. Were technically you could fault him early in his career is he goes off his feet a lot when attempting to win the ball which opens up risks of fouls and suspensions and also being beat by more adapt attackers. He was booked seven (7) times this year and received one (1) red card, stats that will excite many Roman fans worried certain traditions would pass with Danielle De Rossi’s eventual departure (too soon…). One would hope he would adapt his defensive game to utilise his six foot frame in more standing tackles with greater efficacy ala our washing machine.
Other factors to consider when evaluating a prospect include squad integration issues. Not too many fears here, he has been with AS Roma since he was nine (9) years old minus his two year post graduation attachment to Roma’s finishing school Sassuolo. The fact that he suffered cardiac arrhythmia (irregular heart beat) as a youngster is also possible evidence that he is a die-hard fan who has followed this team for a lot longer than was naturally healthy. In terms of roster space, he should get enough minutes to develop and flourish here. Kevin Strootman and Radja Nainggolan logged approximately 1000 more minutes of action collectively than Mira Pjanic and Sami Khedira, the workhorses of Juventus’s title winning challenge. Logging those excess minutes with Lorenzo should greatly assist our title challenge if our coach feels so inclined as not to run our starters into the ground.
All in all, there is a lot to be excited about when it comes to Pellegrini whether it be the elements of his game that mirror Totti and De Rossi, the fact that he is the youngest player ever to have a hand in 10 goals in a single season or that his Roman heritage will shield him from the corrosive atmosphere that sabotages the development of most young players at this club. Simply put the kid can play and hopefully he will be with us for the next decade for two.
Forecasting Lorenzo’s Future
This poll is closed
A predictable flop ala Iturbe
A titan of mediocrity ala Digne
Monchi’s foundational Cashcow ala Bertolacci
A hero’s sendoff at the new stadium in a decade or two