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Reviewing Roma's Loaned Players, Part II: Italian Edition

Circa 25 million euros worth of Roma talent played around the peninsula this season. How did they do?

ACF Fiorentina v Bologna FC - Serie A Photo by Gabriele Maltinti/Getty Images

The second part of our End of Season loan report focuses on Roma loanees who spent the season playing throughout the Italian peninsula. Catch the first part of the review here.

GK - Andrea Romagnoli - Pistoiese

It’s been a nothing season for the 20-year old keeper, who moved to his current loan club to replace fellow Roma loanee keeper Lorenzo Crisanto in January.

He only turned out between the posts for Pistoiese in the final two games of the season, letting in three goals on the last day. You can’t find much on the Italian web about a keeper who’s spent a year between Serie C benches.

Romagnoli has 1 year left on his Roma contract.

GK - Lorenzo Crisanto - Monopoli

AS Roma via Getty Images

They say puns are the lowest form of humour, but we ask whether Crisanto’s Serie C employers are ready to spend Monopoli money on his stay.

The keeper moved there in January and lived through an extra-time and penalties loss in the Serie C Cup. Crisanto would only make one more start in the final league game of the season, where he kept goal in a 4-1 win.

Crisanto is a real character who’s shown a lot of guts in his career choices, but it’s now or never for him to finally find a place in professional football. First-team football has eluded him at every level so far, and his Roma contract expires this summer.

RB - Andrea Paolelli - Gubbio

It doesn’t look good for the right-back. He spent the second half of the season seeing his career wiped out by a long-term knee injury that eventually needed surgery.

Paolelli is now facing the nightmare combo of rehabilitation on his knee while his Roma contract expires this summer.

CB - Elio Capradossi - Spezia

AC Spezia v US Citta di Palermo - Serie B Photo by Tullio M. Puglia/Getty Images

Since mid-February, Capradossi was slotted back into the Spezia first team and never lost his place for the rest of the season. He was part of Spezia clinching a Serie B promotion playoff spot, scoring 2 goals in 8 games in the run-in.

I watched Spezia’s playoff loss to Cittadella in full, and it was Capradossi at fault for Cittadella’s first goal; Elio failed to step up at the last minute and ended up playing his man onside. But Capradossi is now noticeably at ease distributing the ball out the back on both his right and left foot, letting him play across any position along the back four. Worth another risk in a Giallorosso shirt?

The Roman defender is reportedly back at Trigoria this May, with 1 year left on his Roma contract.

LB/LM - Lorenzo Valeau - Catania

There was nothing going for Valeau this season, who spent the first half of 2018/19 on the injury table at Ascoli before moving on to Catania in January.

Over in Sicily, Valeau didn’t make a single start and only came off the bench for six Serie C appearances. He’s in the squad for Catania’s do-or-die semifinal promotion playoff game this evening.

Valeau has 2 years left on his Roma contract.

DM/CM/W(RL) - Gerson - Fiorentina

When we’d last looked at Gerson’s Florence stay back in November, he’d cooled off. He would go a further ten league games before finally bagging a second goal of the season against SPAL in mid-February. And then?

Then Gerson decided he had one more major act left in him for the season. He’d be damned if he wasn’t going to whip in a goal from well outside the box at the Stadio Olimpico.

To top it off costing Roma 2 valuable league points that day, La Baro Viola waxed lyrical of Gerson in their match review - ‘if only he always played like this’ - on the way to crowning him Fiorentina’s man of the match.

Gerson heroics against his parent club aside, Fiorentina surprised everyone by sinking into a battle for Serie A relegation survival. Undoubtedly they were looking for more from Gerson than 3 goals and 3 assists all season. Pioli moved out for Vincenzo Montella’s return to the Fiorentina bench, who had the idea to move Gerson back to playing deep in front of the defence.

In truth, Gerson has always looked like a player without a real position in modern football. He’s played both wide positions for Fiorentina this season, along with central midfield. Viola News writes that Gerson’s season-long loan was full of “very few highs and many different lows”, while Viola journalist Stefano Cecchi summed up the feeling: “We’ve seen this season that he’s not good enough.”

Parma Calcio v ACF Fiorentina - Serie A Photo by Mario Carlini / Iguana Press/Getty Images

Roma knew what they were doing with this loan, as Gerson wages meant Fiorentina were forced to play him all season. 40 games played in all competitions was great experience, yet Gerson hasn’t made the most of it. He sounds like he’s still in his own bubble, claiming he’s had a “truly good season” and feels he’s comfortable with Italian football culture while calling himself a tactically more complete player. Is that really the case?

In fairness, Gerson has been praised for his competitive spirit in midfield throughout Fiorentina’s season. The Brazilian lacks the explosiveness to be taken seriously as anything other than a combative central midfielder. Defensive midfield is a position that works with one of the few things Gerson claims he enjoys if football: Winning back the ball. But he’s still failed to wow anyone as Vincenzo Montella’s regista by season’s end.

“I haven’t decided yet whether to stay in Fiorentina or return to Roma,” Gerson said before Fiorentina’s last game of the season; the choice may just be neither option. He is one of the Viola’s most salaried players and they’ll need to get him off the books if they had any doubts on keeping him. While Roma need to sell Gerson for 8 million euros or above, to at least break even on his original five-year deal signed back in 2016.

CM - Emanuele Spinozzi - Teramo

Spinozzi moved to the Serie C side in January, finding a handful of game action there but doing nothing of note.

It’s unclear when Spinozzi’s Roma contract expires.

CM/AM - Lorenzo Di Livio - Siena

Angelo Di Livio’s son saw his game time dry up slightly for Serie C side Siena in the latter half of the season. Nonetheless, the Torino-born midfielder has generally won the trust of the Tuscan club with his performances.

It’s reported that Siena are already in negotiations with Roma to make Di Livio’s stay permanent, while there is also interest from Virtus Entella in signing the kid.

CF - Keba Coly - Ascoli

Like Valeau, Coly had spent most of the season on the injury table at Ascoli. But Coly stayed there for the entire season, only coming off the bench in the last two games of the season for a negligible 12 minutes of gametime all year long.

This has been a total bust of a loan for a kid who was a strong promise at Roma Primavera level. It’s unclear when Coly’s Roma contract expires.

ST - Umar Sadiq - Perugia

NurPhoto via Getty Images

Back in our November 2018 update, you’ll remember Sadiq fell out with Steven Gerrard in such a melodramatic way that it cut his loan spell at Rangers by the January window. Since his move back to Italy, the Nigerian striker has slotted right into the first team for the Biancorossi while their original star-striker Han faced a number of recurring injury problems all year-long.

Sadiq’s 3 goals and 3 assists in 17 games wasn’t electric form for Perugia, but it was enough to help them to a promotion play-off spot where they fell at the first hurdle, in an end-of-season 4-1 playoff loss to Verona.

Perugia’s press critique Sadiq for having the pace to get himself into the right space on the pitch, but failing to make the most of that time and space or be a real threat. Nonetheless, Perugia sound like they are sold on keeping Sadiq on board full time. And it probably helps that their president is Roman-born.

“I’d keep Sadiq,” said Perugia president Massimiliano Santopadre at the end of their Serie B season. “But he needs a thorn in his side. This year that thorn had to be Han because the club’s paying him 1 million gross, but unfortunately he’s had injury problems.”

For Sadiq’s part, he’s not letting go of his bitter experience in Glasgow anytime soon. “I learnt nothing from [Steven Gerrard] in six months,” Sadiq said last week. “The day I left [Rangers] still ranks among my best moments of the year.”

FW - Mirko Antonucci - Pescara

Antonucci is a frustrating talent. Since our January update, he made just 4 more appearances - for a paltry 171 minutes - till the end of the season. Pescara would finish 4th in the league to go directly into the promotion playoff semi-finals, where Antonucci came off the bench in a first leg goalless draw away to Verona.

But the Delfini promptly lost the second leg at home, and yet no one has a bad word to say about Antonucci. Two-footed and able to play anywhere across the front line, we compared him to Angel Di Maria last summer and most reviews on the coast wouldn’t dispute that potential.

So why has Antonucci spent all season rotting on Pescara’s bench? Either no one knows or no one’s talking. But Antonucci himself has already paid his respects to Pescara fans in a goodbye post over Instagram, so his intention is definitely to return to Trigoria.

It’s left to Roma to figure out how to unlock Antonucci’s talent, who has 3 years left on his Roma contract. Both Sassuolo and newly-promoted Serie A club Brescia are reported to be interested in Antonucci’s signature.

ST - Grégoire Defrel - Sampdoria

UC Sampdoria v Juventus - Serie A Photo by Paolo Rattini/Getty Images

Defrel delivered a near-identical season for Sampdoria as Stephan El Shaarawy in Rome, but the two are unlikely to be strike partners for next season. Finishing joint-15th with SES in the Capocannoniere race, Defrel also added a Coppa Italia goal for 12 goals and 4 assists over 39 games in all competitions.

Since the middle of March, Defrel has been in prolific form by scoring a goal every two games after an indifferent winter. He’s spent most of the season playing second striker in Marco Giampaolo’s 2-striker formation, with Defrel only occassionally dropping back to play as an attacking midfielder behind a lone striker in more defensive games.

That pretty much makes Defrel incompatible with the Roma setup of the last two seasons and a permanent sale to Sampdoria looks like the best solution for all, though the Blucerchiati are reported to be looking for a discount on their loan-redemption clause.

Roma have reportedly so far refused to bargain on the original asking price; the Lupi need a transfer of 12 million euros or above to at least break even on Defrel’s original move from Sassuolo two summers ago.