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How Can Patrik Schick Improve Next Season?

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Schick had an up and down season, but the room for improvement is vast.

AS Roma v AC Chievo Verona - Serie A Photo by Paolo Bruno/Getty Images

Expectations are something that can be quite deceiving when you are supporting Roma: you just don’t know what to expect. And when it comes to signings, forget about it.

We had our fair share of ups and downs when it comes to signings over the years, but I think we can all assume that it has been pretty even experience, with every Nainggolan compensating every Ibarbo. Some even improved as time went on, which is the case of Edin Dzeko who was a walking meme in his first season and turned himself into the powerhouse we were all waiting for in subsequent seasons. Others went down, as was the case with Pablo Osvaldo who quickly lost the mighty streak of form he was in back when he signed for us.

So that leads us to the main issue in our display: Patrik Schick, our very own Czech sensation.

When Roma signed Schick, reactions were pretty divisive: some people were overly excited to sign such a talented footballer from Sampdoria and even taking him from Juventus’ hands (I include myself in that area) while other people were expecting an Iturbe 2.0 scenario. Let’s add to that equation the fact that Schick costed a LOT of money for Roma’s standards and you have a player that had a lot to prove while being merely 22 years old.

The result? A pretty poor season from Patrik that only got a bit better in the past few weeks, since that monumental victory against Barcelona where the Czech performed admirably, like the whole team. He also didn’t score his first goal with Roma until April. So, how likely is for Schick to do better next season at Roma? We’ll have a look at some of the variables that may influence that outcome for all parties involved:

Pre-season

As we mentioned, Schick was pretty close to signing for Juventus in the summer, but failed to do so because of his medical. Therefore, he didn’t enjoy a full pre-season with Roma and his summer was actually quite agitated due to negotiations for his next move, so we can safely say that he didn’t have the time prepare himself for this season in the most optimal conditions.

That changes in the upcoming summer where he’s not only going to have a full pre-season with the squad but he’s also not going to be part of the World Cup with the Czech Republic, so our former Sampdoria man is going to have a couple of weeks to chill, watch the World Cup and update his Dragon Ball Super views (what? Am I the only one who does that?), more than ready to hit the ground running, hopefully.

Having played a full season already

Never underestimate the effect of playing a full season when adjusting to a new club; we already saw that with Dzeko recently: the opportunity to get used to your teammates, to the rhythm of the team and the manager’s way of doing things can be a massive element for a footballer’s improvement in his performances and that can be the same thing for Schick.

He now would be fully rested, with a full pre-season under his belt and with a bigger understanding of how things work at Roma, so things could be much easier for him to perform. Also, we have to remember that this is only his second season at Italy and he’s still pretty young, so that is also something to keep in mind; he started like a fireball at Sampdoria, but this year at Roma can be a learning curve for him and make him stronger mentally.

His position in the setup

Now, this is one of the biggest issues that can impact Schick’s future at Roma and his development. The Czech excelled at Sampdoria by playing as a secondary striker, having space and freedom to roam in the attacking third of the pitch; in most matches with Roma he has performed as the target man, rotating for Dzeko in those cases, showcasing his limitations in that particular role where he has to be a bit more static.

But recently, Di Francesco has changed things a bit, like in the Barcelona match in Rome: he played Patrik as a second striker to Dzeko and he was actually quite good, turning himself into a right winger to help Florenzi against the likes of Jordi Alba and Iniesta. He also has played a lot as a pure right winger, swooping inside the area to finish attacks.

Adding Schick to Roma’s starting lineup can be quite complicated given EDF’s preference to play with a 4-3-3 most of the time, but the Italian manager has also proven to be quite flexible at times with his setups, so if I had to bet on it, I’d go with a 4-2-3-1, with Schick behind Dzeko. The main issue would be sacrificing, at least in my lineup, Kevin Strootman and that could lead to some unbalance in the team’s play, so it’s a pretty complicated situation.

His role in the lineup is going to play a major role in his development.

Conclusion

Schick had a poor season and no one can discuss that. But it would be a foolish act to say that he is doomed to be a bad signing or him not living up to his potential at Roma. The key is to know how to handle him and that he has the mental strength to surpass what has been a pretty difficult year for him. If both parties can do that, this Czech wonderboy may have big things to say at Rome.