Given that their collective ACLs are about as secure as your social security number on your grandma’s laptop, it would make sense that Roma are searching high and low for a new fullback, particularly on the left. However, with Alessandro Florenzi roughly two months away, and with Emerson Palmieri and Luca Pellegrini following on his heels several months later, why, then, the sudden interest in reinforcements?
We’re talking, of course, about Torino’s Antonio Barreca, one of the more well-regarded fullback prospects on the peninsula, one whom Roma consigliere Federico Balzaretti is reportedly whispering sweet nothings to; incidentally, how great is it that Roma now has Balzaretti and Francesco Totti, two of the most respected players of their generation (though for wildly different reasons), singing the club’s praises to prospective players? All things being equal, having those voices out there could swing some undecided voters Roma’s way.
Anyway, back to the matter at hand, why would Roma pursue yet another fullback?
After all, come December, Roma will have an absolute log jam at the fullback spot, with Palmieri, Florenzi and Pellegrini joining the likes of Juan Jesus, Bruno Peres and Rick Karsdorp. All told, that’s six men for two spots, seven if Roma lands Barreca. Even accounting for multiple competitions, that’s too many man and not enough minutes.
Considering that scenario, unlikely and far away though it might be, let’s take a quick look at the pros and cons of this move.
Why It Makes Sense
Well, quite simply, he’s an up and comer. At 22-years-old, Barreca isn’t long on experience so his stats won’t blow you away, but Barreca is capable, even at this nascent stage, of playing virtually anywhere on the left flank. His size, speed, vision and versatility have reminded many of Matteo Darmian, a player Barreca already professes to admire. Simply put, his foundation is extremely, extremely solid, so there’s no telling how high he might rise.
While he won’t necessarily make anyone forget the name Roberto Carlos, Barreca’s combination of skill and athleticism could make him one of Italy’s best full backs over the next eight to ten years, so even at a price of €15 to €20 million, Roma might be wise to get on this train while they can.
Why It Doesn’t Make Sense
Well, even if we throw out the fact that’s he’s from Torino and has only expressed a desire to play in that city or, at worst, Milan, there’s the aforementioned supply issue; Roma has a glut of fullbacks. Furthermore, the best of that lot, Emerson Palmieri, plays the same role as Barreca and is only seven months older, so it’s not as if he’d only be biding his time for a year or so waiting for Palmieri to retire; he would have significant competition in Rome. And while that’s a good thing to an extent, spending that much money on a kid when you already have a veritable carbon copy in house, albeit an injured one, isn’t the best allocation of resources.
I’d cut this one right down the middle at 50%. The talent and versatility alone is worth the play—even if he doesn’t blossom into stardom, he’s the type of player you can get damn near a decade of production from—but at that cost, and given what Roma already has in house, it might be a tough sell to the man with his fingers clasping the change purse. However, on the flip side, if Palmieri recovers and Barreca takes off, Roma would stand to profit handsomely.
So, I’m waffling but slightly leaning towards making the move, what say you?