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Who Will Lead Roma’s Front Line Next Season?

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As always, quite a lot of names have come up in the rumor mill.

Parma Calcio v Torino FC - Serie A Photo by Alessandro Sabattini/Getty Images

Edin Džeko has served Roma quite well since his transfer from Manchester City; sure, he’s been hot and cold, but he’s arguably the best striker Roma has had since the turn of the millennium. Unfortunately, he’s not getting any younger, and his recent on-the-pitch performances have been marred by a general “I’m too old/good for this” je ne sais quoi. Now, there have been a lot of rumors that Džeko will be playing at the Olimpico into the extended future if Antonio Conte is signed as Roma’s next manager. Despite that, the other indicators pointing towards a Džeko exit mean it’s not too surprising that a number of rumors have popped up about future forward options for the Giallorossi. Add in the fact that Patrik Schick has not lived up to his €42 million pricetag (at least, not yet), and it would honestly be strange to not see a new striker come to Trigoria this summer.

With that in mind, here’s a quick roundup of some of the names Roma has been linked to recently, along with my thoughts on the potential transfer.

Andrea Belotti

Parma Calcio v Torino FC - Serie A Photo by Alessandro Sabattini/Getty Images

Age: 25

Current Club: Torino

Estimated Transfer Fee: €50m

If you’ve been following Serie A, you know who Andrea Belotti is. If you’ve been reading Chiesa di Totti, you know that Belotti has been linked to Roma for quite some time, with most Giallorossi fans not really buying any of the links. At his transfer value peak, Belotti was valued by Torino at €100m, or 2.35 Patrik Schicks. He’s come back to earth since his 2016-2017 28-goal season, and with that, his transfer fee has come down.

The rumors of Belotti to Roma haven’t died down with his lower goalscoring numbers, however. If anything, his reported transfer fee becoming more reasonable combined with Jim Pallotta’s decision to create an Italian core inside i Lupi means that the links between the Calcinate-born forward and the Giallorossi are only going to continue to grow.

If paired with the right manager, a Belotti transfer could be a larger-scale version of Stephan El Shaarawy’s move to the Eternal City. I’m certainly intrigued by the prospect of pairing Belotti with Schick, El Shaarawy, Zaniolo, and Justin Kluivert; add in the fact that the Roman media seems to think current Torino DS Gianluca Petrachi is all but guaranteed to be the Giallorossi’s successor to Monchi, and this transfer makes too much sense to just be smoke.

Darío Benedetto

Deportes Tolima v Boca Juniors - Copa CONMEBOL Libertadores 2019 Photo by Gabriel Aponte/Getty Images

Age: 28

Current Club: Boca Juniors

Estimated Transfer Fee: €20m

I’m always a little skeptical of late bloomers hopping from South America to European football; if they’re so good, why didn’t they make the move to the big boys sooner? Yet Dario Benedetto is seemingly the name on every Italian club’s lips at the moment. The Argentine #9 has hopped all over South America and Mexico in his career so far, playing for Arsenal de Sarandi, Defensa y Justicia, Gimnasia de Jujuy, Tijuana, America, and now Boca Juniors.

Like a lot of Argentinian forwards, the name of Benedetto’s game is technique. If you’re a fan of long-range scorchers shot from the right foot, Dario’s your guy, and if you’re a fan of dribbling skills, you won’t be disappointed. I haven’t personally watched too much of Boca this season, but his time with the Buenos Aires club has been successful on an individual and club level. Benedetto won the Footballer of the Year in Argentina award in 2017 and led Boca to the Primera Division title in the same year. It remains to be seen if these skills can transfer to Italy, but if Roma can use Diego Perotti to bring down the cost of this transfer, Benedetto could be a low-risk, high-reward solution for the Giallorossi.

Edinson Cavani

SSC Napoli v Paris Saint-Germain - UEFA Champions League Group C Photo by Francesco Pecoraro/Getty Images

Age: 32

Current Club: Paris Saint-Germain

Estimated Transfer Fee: We’re going to build Stadio Della Roma, and Qatar’s gonna pay for it.

Even though he’s on the tail end of his career, when you see a name like Edinson Cavani get linked to Roma, your ears have to perk up a little bit. This is the Uruguayan who tore Serie A to shreds during his time at Napoli, who’s scored 133 goals in 181 appearances for Paris Saint-Germain, and whose star power dwarfs any current member of Roma’s club.

Considering that Roma is looking to get younger and/or more Italian, I’m a little skeptical on the validity of this rumor, but Gazzetta dello Sport is reporting that PSG is offering to swap an Edinson for an Edin. The Bosnian Diamond would head to Paris to get a pay raise, while Cavani would instantly become the focal point of Roma’s attack. Of course, Cavani’s wages alone would blow up Roma’s current salary structure, but considering Jim Pallotta is now offering €9m a year to Antonio Conte, I can’t pretend to have any clue what’s going on with Roma’s checkbook. Is a Qatari buyout mere months away? Did Pallotta find a couple billion dollars in the couch cushions? Who’s to say really. But the fact that Roma is being linked to players like Cavani and managers like Conte does seem to push the Giallorossi closer and closer to the superclub tier of Europe.

Conclusions

Empoli FC Training Session Photo by Gabriele Maltinti/Getty Images

Of course, all of these potential moves hinge on who Jim Pallotta hires as Roma’s new manager and DS. With Petrachi apparently being all but confirmed it certainly seems likely that Roma will continue its Italian Job into the future; despite that, if Roma brings in an A-tier manager like Antonio Conte or Maurizio Sarri, their demands for specific types of players, particularly in the forward position, may mean that an Italian forward for Roma just isn’t in the cards.

The other wrinkle to potential forward signings hinges on the veracity of the Qatari Sports Investment Group rumors currently surrounding Roma. Sure, Jim Pallotta recently called those rumors “fake news”, but when was the last time “fake news” meant anything other than “actual news I don’t want you to talk about”? Regardless, if those buyout rumors come to fruition, Roma’s expanding pocketbook will probably render these potential targets too cheap for ownership’s taste. Who knows what a Qatari Roma would look like - it would certainly look different from even a Conte-helmed American Roma.

If you think the rumor mill is crazy now, wait until the DS and manager are officially signed. Silly season gets longer every year, and with Roma, it seems to only get sillier and sillier. Let’s just hope that the Giallorossi come out of the summer mercato stronger and with a more coherent identity.