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Calcio News Round-Up: The Italian Youth Revolution?

Serie A teams can register their own ‘B’ teams in Serie C from next season.

U16 Italy v U16 Germany  - International Friendly Photo by Giuseppe Bellini/Getty Images

This week, Roma really has nothing more important on the agenda than wrapping up a CL qualification against Juventus - a match where Roma are rumoured to be giving a debut to next season’s home kit. Sunday isn’t coming any faster and we’ve said we don’t want to be spending all week getting cabin fever over transfer gossip, so here’s a news round up - including Rick Karsdorp’s definitive return to the Roma first team, Frederic Massara’s return to Roma and Alessandro Costacurta announcing a very big change for Italian youth development from next season.

Rick Karsdorp Returns on Monday

The club announced, this week, Rick Karsdorp’s definitive return to full, first-team training with the rest of the group on Monday 14th May. The subtext of this meaning that Karsdorp doesn’t have to deal with the expectations of a Roma vs Juve clash but may get his chance to feel included in the final season send-off at Sassuolo, right before the club goes into a summer showdown for contract talks with Florenzi.

By summertime, Florenzi will be competing for a starting spot at either end of the right wing with one year left to go on his contract. Roma isn’t a club that can afford players walking away for free, nor can they afford to give star wages to a squad player.

Florenzi’s camp are said to have denied that he’s asking for 4m a season (a figure that effectively would recognise him as an undroppable member of the squad) but haven’t denied he’s asking for a payrise, all the same.

It’s been touted on the net that Florenzi can take up a starting spot in midfield, but he has told the coach himself that he sees his future purely on the wing. Which may or may not have something to do with all the physical duels he struggles to handle...

Flo as starting mid next season? He’d have to be very quick on his feet to pull it off... no quicker than he’d have to be to talk the club into a hefty contract.

No matter how you feel about Florenzi’s standing in the team - the bottom line is his situation will have to be resolved either one way or another this summer. Roma cannot afford for it to be otherwise.

Ricky Massara Returns as Roma’s General Secretary

Frederic Massara, the name you may recognise as our former stand-in DS and Sabatini’s former number 2 man, is back at the club. And no, I do not know what a General Secretary does at a football club or why it’s important, either. But it does speak to the Walter Sabatini era - as we knew it - being officially over.

Massara isn’t known for stepping away from Walter Sabatini in any shape or form, so it’s more or less an official end to a very storied career at the top of football.

But I’m sure we’ll hear more from Sabatini over the following months. He’s always good value for his thoughts on football and life.

Still No One Has Any Idea How We’ll Watch Italian Football Next Season

Mediapro - remember them? the guys who had big ideas of bringing Italian football to the internet (legally)? - just had their winning bid for the domestic TV rights to calcio thrown out by the courts this week, using an anti-trust law to do it (I find that a little ironic even if it’s entirely possible the justice system’s heart was in the right place).

Does anyone know how Italian football will be televised next year? No. And we’re in May. It’s a pretty sorry state of affairs.

Keep in mind it isn’t out of the question that Roma loses money from this, as Serie A clubs may now be forced to take the initial sub-1 billion-euro-bid from the old faces of Sky and Mediaset, and just get by on that.

Meanwhile, Liverpool announces they’ve just bought Nebil Fekir for 62 million pounds sterling. The gap between Serie A and the top leagues continues to widen.

Serie A Teams Can Register ‘B’ Teams in Lega Pro Starting Next Season

Finally some real heavy-hitting news from the mouth of Alessandro Costacurta. Not only has the Milan legend and FIGC man been busy keeping the Italian federation’s top-secret search for Roberto Mancini the next Italy coach under wraps, but he’s apparently also listened to voices begging to give Italian youth players a bigger stage in the peninsula.

“Serie A clubs will be able to ask to register their second team with the Lega Pro (Serie C),” Costacurta announced in an interview to Undici. “The second teams will be made of under-21 players, with the option to introduce two over-23 players. These teams will need to have a minimum of players eligible for the Italian national team, the minimum we’re deciding on right now. The teams will participate in the league regularly, they can be promoted or relegated. There’s only one limitation: they can never play in the same league as the club’s A team.”

No doubt there’ll need to be some clearing up what Costacurta was getting at with the limitations, but this could explain Roma’s confidence in handing Luca Pellegrini a 1-million-a-season contract to stay at the club, as well as being good news for youth players avoiding going out on dry loans gone wrong. We’ll see.