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Where Are They Now? Sabatini’s Kids - Part 3

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Our final part on Roma’s loaness features one kid who’s kept the dream alive: Marco Tumminello.

Italy 20 v Croatia U20 Photo by Gabriele Maltinti/Getty Images

We wrap up the loan report with a more sexy finish than the lesser known lights in part 1 and part 2. Our final installment has Roma’s one big hope (aside from names at Trigoria like Luca Pellegrini and Alessio Riccardi) getting his promising career firmly back on track for the big time: Marco Tumminello.

Football is a funny sport online - it’s become like Instagram for men. If there isn’t potentially mega money involved to bring in the ‘window shopping’ factor, we don’t share the same perverse interest in how a player’s story is going to turn out. By ‘we’ I mean me included.

But I’m also going to laugh the next time I read any moralising comments from the sycophantic following that surrounds star names like Nainggolan, Manolas or Alisson. The same comments about how it’s wrong to think of selling players who sweat for the Roma shirt.

Some of these kids have worn the Roma badge, given their most vulnerable years of their education over to the club, and yet when they’re thrown out the game and left behind then who will do the chest-beating about the rights and wrongs of being a Roma fan for those players? The hypocrisy makes me sick.

Now I’ve gotten that off my chest, thanks to everyone who has taken an interest and helped me to believe we aren’t just writing for a sport that’s more cameras than football. I took in not just each forum comment on these features but also the comments on CdT’s Twitter and Facebook.

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Note: We skipped Sadiq Umar, Daniele Verde and Ezequiel Ponce who’s seasons we mentioned briefly weeks ago - if you need a brief recap, Sadiq’s half-season in Holland went very well, winning player of the week a couple of times and building a healthy scoring record, whereas Ponce barely survived relegation with Lille and Verde was relegated with Verona. Another exception is Radonjic who has all but left the club for good even if he has a contract until 2019.


Lorenzo Crisanto (born ‘98) – Hometown Zero

I believed Crisanto was the next Italian keeper to break into Roma’s senior squad, but the Primavera Keeper of the Year in 2017 chose to leave the Lupi for a shot in the lower leagues. I don’t think he expected his season to end in the surreal manner it did this past May.

“I waited until the very end of the window for Prato to sign me,” Crisanto said of his hometown club at the end of last summer’s transfer window. That move never materialised and Crisanto took his gloves to Siena instead, where he’d have to wait all-season long for a league debut (and one appearance in the Coppa Italia).

As destiny (or a sadistic Siena management) would have it, he made his Lega Pro debut against relegation-threatened Prato.

Cristanto acquitted himself well to end up on the winning side and witness his hometown Prato relegated right before his eyes, along with his watching family in the stands. “I’m still convinced that joining Siena was the right decision even if I’m sorry for my city,” Crisanto summed up in good humour.

He was also just recently on the bench for Siena’s extremely controversial quarter-final playoff against Reggiana - a match where the referee chose to give one of the most unbelievable penalty calls this season, eight minutes deep into injury time.

You can watch highlights of that game here.


Mathias Nani (born ‘98) - Back Home

Barely anything can be said about the Argentian 20 year old centre-half who went back home on loan to Argentinian league and sees his contract with Roma expire this summer.


Eros de Santis (born ‘97) - Pulling Rank

The ex-Primavera captain De Santis left his title glories at youth level behind to make the jump to senior level with a loan at Entella in Serie B this year. By January, there was talk of him moving on after barely 188 minutes of football in 3 appearances but De Santis himself claimed he was happy at the club.

The faith paid off in the second half of the season as he figured more and more in Entella’s (ultimately doomed) battle to avoid the drop.

He has been one of the most vocal presences in Entella’s dressing room in the past two months, and faced off against Primavera-mate Christian d’Urso’s Ascoli in the Serie B relegation playoff. Entella and de Santis wound up being relegated but he’s kept his international profile up with the Italy U-20s, playing alongside Marco Tumminello this past April.

Whether or not De Santis has a future in Rome, he doesn’t seem overwhelmed with professional football in any way, showing model behaviour throughout.


Alessandro Bordin (born ‘98) - Ter Na Nah

With Roma looking worrisome at mediano without Daniele De Rossi, it would have been nice had Bordin turned out to be good. However he went on loan to Ternana and finished dead last in Serie B. Bordin can hardly be blamed for that as he made only 3 appearances all year, barely trusted even during a midfield injury crisis towards the end of the season. Despite this there are noises about Ternana keeping Bordin at the club permanently.


Emanuele Spinozzi (born ‘98) - Settled?

Midfielder Spinozzi left the Primavera last summer for a loan with Serie C side Pontedera. He’s enjoyed a full-on season at the club with over 30 appearances but there hasn’t been any fanfare around his name nor has he figured in any of the Italy youth sides for 3 years now so he has no future at Roma, with his contract expiring this summer.


Filippo Franchi (born ‘98) - Disappeared

In theory, striker Franchi plays on loan at Reggina. But he hasn’t been on the pitch all season. With no international career to speak of, his expiring Roma contract spells the end for him unless he can find another club and chapter to his career this summer.


Edoardo Soleri (born ‘97) - Siesta

As mentioned in part 1 of this feature, Soleri left on loan last summer for a dead-end stay at Spezia until Monchi pulled him out of there in January. Soleri then claimed Monchi personally told him to take a loan move to Spain, where the tall striker gradually played himself into some minutes with Almeria and scored a brace in one game. Those were to be his only two goals of the season and he wasted no time in dedicating them to Davide Astori’s memory after the game.


Marco Tumminello (born ‘98) - Future Azzurro?

What else is there to say about this kid that we haven’t already admired? Once sent off from the bench in a Primavera semi-final for ridiculously trying to headbutt a referee, Tumminello has recovered a lot of trust with the club since.

There was his hungry cameo against Tottenham in last pre-season’s USA tour, finding the winning goal for the Roma senior side. Then came a late, late loan to Crotone at the beginning of this season and everyone - both in Roma and Crotone - were excited to see what the striker could do. We all know that ACL disaster struck next, but Tumminello has come back from that injury to bang in more Serie A goals this year than Patrik Schick. It’s an opportunistic comparison to make but the point is Tumminello is a natural goalscorer, looking to get himself in the box and on the scoresheet with whatever time he’s given on the pitch.

He also recently appeared for the Italy U-20s this April. There has been talk of Roma using Tumminello in a player exchange this summer and I’d personally be disappointed if the kid doesn’t get a shot at a Roma future sometime in the next couple of seasons.


That wraps up everything as far as a comprehensive loan report goes, but we may see some of these names figure again in the summer’s top ten youth countdown. Overall I’d figure just over one third of the loans could be considered a success for the 2018/19 season.

Is Roma’s a particularly bad success rate in comparison to other Serie A clubs? I don’t know. To take a look at Italy’s entire youth picture, club by club in detail, is way beyond the scope of what I had in mind when I began writing this.

But in the end it does give fuel to the idea something had to change from the loan system of today, and hopefully the new B-team system of next season can be a step forward in the right direction.