The top 10, 100 or whatever-number footballers lists are, by their very nature, subjective exercises. One outlet might give the top nod to Lionel Messi or Cristiano Ronaldo based purely on advanced metrics, while the next site might tip the scales towards Luka Modric or Eden Hazard just to upset the apple cart for one season, which is sort of like how Karl Malone inexplicably won the NBA MVP in 1996-1997 because the voters were tired of giving it to Michael Jordan. Point being, as much as we try to be objective about these sort of things, there is simply no way to keep subjectivity and opinion out of the equation, but seriously, Jordan should have won every MVP in the 90s.
But I digress, back to the matter at hand; ESPN FC’s recently released Top 100 for 2018. The self proclaimed world wide leader in sports decided to eschew a standard top to bottom list in favor of grouping the players by position, as well as managers. So, in essence, ESPN compiled a non-linear Top 90 plus 10 managers list, and unless I’m completely missing it, there doesn’t appear to be a general top 10 list readily available.
As one would expect, Messi topped the list of forwards, with Ronaldo right on his heels, while Modric took the top honors among midfielders. Manchester City whiz Kevin De Bruyne was listed as the best attacking midfielder, while Harry Kane was selected as the world’s best striker. For the full list and/or groupings head over here; it’s a visually appealing list if nothing else.
But back to the matter at hand, the absolute dearth of current Roma players on the list. There was a time when we could at least count on the Giallorossi saving face on these lists thanks to Francesco Totti and Daniele De Rossi, and the odd sensational season from Edin Dzeko, but those days are long gone and it might be some time before we can bank on anyone wearing a Roma shirt landing on this list, to say nothing of being a year-to-year honoree.
While a slim argument could have been made for Kostas Manolas at least being named the 10th best center back (based more on his entire catalog of work than last season in particular), there were no other honorable mentions for Roma. Making matters worse, over the past two calendar years Roma saw fit to part ways with the world's seventh best forward (Mohamed Salah) and it's fourth best keeper (Alisson), though the mention of Mr. Becker stings a bit more since he earned this accolade based largely on his 2017-2018 season with Roma.
Lists like these are purely for entertainment—there is no one, single metric that rules them all—but it does shine a light on the current state of affairs in the Eternal City. Roma can cultivate talent easily enough, and they occasionally even find gems on the transfer market, but retaining them is an entirely different issue, and I’m not here to play the what if game with Alisson or Salah, but given their inability to keep stars once they become stars, it’s no wonder Roma has struggled to reach the upper ranks.
But are they doomed to this life of mediocrity, or is there hope on the horizon? In Lorenzo Pellegrini and Nicolo Zaniolo, Roma has two of Italy’s brightest young talents, while Cengiz Ünder is already considered one of the most valuable U21 players in the world.
So, what do you think, when will we see some Roma players on that list again?
Which of Roma's young players has the best shot at being a Top 100 player?
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