It’s no secret that Roma has been searching for a vice-Dzeko for quite some times. For a moment, it seemed like Patrik Schick could be that man, and after he flopped, Nikola Kalinic seemed like an adequate back-up to the Bosnian Diamond. Yet Kalinic too has flopped at the Stadio Olimpico, with rumors suggesting Roma may even cut his loan from Atletico Madrid short by the end of the winter mercato. In Kalinic’s place, Gianluca Petrachi looks to yet again be in search of a striker who can perform as a vice-Dzeko now and a post-Dzeko forward option in the future. Names like Moise Kean, Andrea Pinamonti, and Mariano Diaz have been batted around for quite some time now, but you can add one more name to that list; Andrea Petagna, the 24-year-old SPAL striker who scored Gli Spallini’s sole goal against Roma on Sunday.
Petagna is an Italian striker from the same neck of the woods as my family (Trieste, a port city near Italy’s border with Slovenia). His youth career started with AC Milan, but after more than a few years on loan to the likes of Sampdoria, Latina, Vicenza, and Ascoli, Petagna was transferred fully to Atalanta. Following two seasons with La Dea, he moved on to his current club, Società Polisportiva Ars et Labor, or SPAL. It was at SPAL where Petagna truly exploded, scoring 22 goals over the course of his one and a half seasons with the club and catching the eye of Inter, Roma, Fiorentina, and Everton, among others.
As you can see from his highlight clip, Petagna is the archetype of a modern forward, combining good technique with a strong work ethic on the field. If he moved to Roma, one would assume that he might function in a similar way to Džeko, threading the needle between the roles of a traditional #9 and a #10. In contrast to Džeko, however, Petagna is an absolute tank of a player physically speaking; where Džeko uses his height and litheness to his advantage, Petagna combines being just a tad shorter than Edin with the physique of Captain America (Capitano Italia?). If put in a better role than simply helping SPAL avoid the drop to Serie B, Petagna certainly could become an important part of a Champions League-level side.
Petagna hasn’t shied away from the rumors connecting him to Roma, with the striker telling the press today that “Training with (Džeko) would be a dream, but right now I have to think about Spal. The club brought me here at a tough time and I want to do well here. Whatever happens (in the future) depends on so many things.” TeleRadioStereo reports that Gianluca Petrachi intends to bring Petagna in on a 18-month loan deal with obligation to buy in 2021, a financial decision that makes sense given Roma’s precarious ownership situation.
Signing Petagna, a promising young Italian striker, to back up Džeko would be a statement of intent by Petrachi and Fonseca. Edin has been an essential part of the Giallorossi’s tactical plans since his move to Rome, yet that can’t last forever. Petagna’s current status in the game as an up-and-comer without too much hype means that he has the perfect profile for a player who can sub for Džeko now and perhaps replace him later. Bring in another Schick and the expectation will be that he replaces Džeko immediately, a near-impossible task. Bring in another Kalinic and it’s unlikely he can provide much of anything in the long term to I Lupi. Petagna provides balance between these two poles, and would certainly help Gianluca Petrachi continue in Monchi’s footsteps by further developing Roma’s Italian core.
Watch this space: given Gianluca Petrachi’s tendency to move quickly in the transfer market, Petagna may be wearing a Roma kit sooner rather than later.
Would you be satisfied with Andrea Petagna as a vice-Džeko?
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