Anyone who just watched Italy’s recent Women’s World Cup campaign would say this is a dream headline, but multiple sources—Il Romanista and Spazio Milan above all—report that Roma are pushing hard to secure Italy and Milan midfielder Manuela Giugliano’s signature for the 2018/19 season. It’s claimed that Roma captain and Italy teammate Elisa Bartoli is behind Giugliano’s willingness to come link up in the Italian capital.
We’ve seen everything Giugliano is capable of in this World Cup. Though she played a more advanced role with AC Milan last season, Giugliano starred as midfield anchor for the Azzurre. Her defence-splitting passes from deep were just as impressive as her work ethic tracking back, between her central defensive pair, to cut out the danger anywhere inside Italy’s own half and penalty area.
Giugliano’s performance in the opening game against Australia kept Italy in the game and launched the Azzure’s comeback victory that many weren’t sure could be achieved before the tournament. Thanks to Giugliano’s interceptions and through balls, the upset victory was the first of Italy’s momentum picking up steam all the way to the quarter-finals. She has only spent one season at AC Milan, helping them to the top 3 and 15 point-finish ahead of 4th placed Roma.
At the heart of Milan’s game, under former coach Carolina Morace, was Giugliano’s vision and top-notch passing.
Signing Giugliano to Roma’s midfield would be a tremendous coup, going a long way to meeting our questions about whether the club would properly push for Roma Femminile to compete at the top of Serie A while the opportunity is there to be had.
Why would Giugliano be willing to move from the North to Rome? Carolina Morace’s strange dismissal from the Milan bench in close season could have something to do with it.
The Italian legend guided the new AC Milan Femminile franchise to the best possible performance she could, and Morace’s name runs deep in women’s calcio circles. That made her ‘mutual resignation’ from Milan all the more surreal this past May, and was intially rumoured to be down to former sporting director Leonardo not meeting her demands for squad investment. But those rumours held less water one Leonardo also left the club days later.
The second driving force behind this transfer is said to be Giugliano’s long-time teammate Elisa Bartoli.
Not only have the two just recently gone through a record-equalling World Cup campaign together, but they are former teammates from their days at Torres. When the Sardinian club folded and failed to register for the 2015 Serie A season, both Bartoli and Giugliano moved up to Bergamo and played together for Mozzanica. Only since the summer of 2016 have the two players parted ways before joining forces again this year for their country. Could they now do it for Roma?
It was only a couple of weeks ago I left a comment on Morace’s Facebook page, dreaming of a Giugliano-Greggi midfield pairing for Italy. Morace (or her team) gave the thumbs up in the same manner she takes the time to acknowledge all fan posts. Never would I have dared to say I was dreaming of a Giugliano-Greggi midfield for Roma, but I was definitely thinking it.
Both young Italians are capable of playing in deep midfield or further up behind the strikers, and their ball-winning ability would have Roma dominating possession. To top it off, neither Greggi or Giugliano are strangers to scoring goals from midfield. Giugliano once scored 15 goals in 21 appearances for Verona in the 2016-17 Serie A season, though the competition levels of the league have already jumped noticeably since then.
Now the future of Italy’s midfield could be playing in the Italian capital next year; a recurring theme among Roma transfer rumours this summer.
Roma Release Piemonte, Pugnali and Bitzer
In other news, Roma have waved goodbye to three players. Among the most high-profile of them is Martina Piemonte, the target-woman who promises a lot of potential but couldn’t realise it in Rome.
Piemonte is one of the Roma players I regret not finding the time to do and end-of-season write up, as she frustrated me to no end through the last Serie A campaign before finally showing some surreal hold-up play. I believed, by season’s end, she could lead the line for the Giallorosse next year. Unfortunately, hold-up play by itself wasn’t deemed good enough by the club.
Piemonte’s 3 goals in 17 games didn’t meet expectations and weighed heavily in Rome’s lack of firepower last campaign. She will have to ply her trade elsewhere if she’s to deliver on her famous self-assessment that there’s a “bomb inside her waiting to explode” on the Serie A scene. At just 21 years old though, with sublime first touch and movement between the lines, don’t be surprised if Piemonte finds herself a Serie A club with which to haunt Roma on the scoresheet in the future.
The other players released from the club this month are Luisa Pugnali (who sometimes vied with Piemonte for gametime up front) and Jenny Bitzer. Bitzer stepped in as the club’s back-up full back when needed, but often struggled to make her mark. Pugnali scored a hell of a goal in the league this past winter, and her work rate was well up there off the ball. But Serie A coach of the year Betty Bavagnoli and her technical team are clearly not working in half-measures on this summer’s transfers, especially when it comes to giving Roma’s attack much-needed threat for next season.