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Ranking Roma’s Youth, #9: Devid Bouah

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Unstoppable pace and technique means the Roman full-back’s star keeps rising on Bouah’s comeback from injury.

Chelsea FC v AS Roma - UEFA Youth League Photo by Kieran Galvin/NurPhoto via Getty Images

It’s hard to verbalise a talent that’s made such impact in a relatively miniscule amount of time. Even though we already ranked Devid Bouah in our Top 5 Primavera Talents to Watch and Primavera Best 11 over the last year, let’s be clear: Bouah has barely played.

There were hints of being war-ready at senior level when Bouah was fielded by Eusebio Di Francesco in a friendly against Chapocoense last autumn. Then there were Bouah’s rampages up and down the Primavera pitch until November. And then? Nothing but rehab for Bouah ever since.

That fateful November month saw Bouah go down clutching his leg in a Primavera fixture against Fiorentina. The ACL curse has struck again, and it’d hit Roma Primavera hard as Bouah was one of the biggest threats for Alberto De Rossi’s side.

Number Nine: Devid Bouah

Age: 17
Position: Right-Back/Wing-Back
Current Club: Roma
Future Comparison: Maicon

Who Is He?

A Roman-born and bred talent—with Ivorian family roots—first discovered by Bruno Conti 8 years ago, Devid Bouah has found himself bouncing around age categories in Trigoria thanks to his impressive physique. He holds the distinction of being the first player born after Roma’s 2001 Scudetto title to appear on the substitutes’ bench for the Roma first team. Ever since he found stability as a right-back from U-17 level onward, Bouah has never looked back.

Look out for Devid’s younger brother Ethan; the 2005-born centre-back will step up to play for Roma’s reigning U-15 champions this coming season.

What Can He Do?

Picture the Inter Milan version of Maicon, and that’s pretty much the mould in which Bouah is looking to grow. He could be a kick-and-rush footballer down the wing if he wants, but Bouah shows invention and wizadry on the ball that forces defences to commit two-men-at-a-time in an effort to try and shut him down (they often fail all the same).

That’s at Primavera level though, where Bouah’s physique and range helps him to take on all comers. Obviously senior level will be a different story.

At home to CSKA Moscow in the UEFA Youth League (above), you can see nothing is too big a demand for Bouah. Calm finishes inside the box? Check. Putting it on a plate for team-mates across the face of goal? Check.

What Can He Become?

FC Internazionale U19 v AS Roma U19 - Primavera SuperCup Photo by Marco Luzzani/Inter via Getty Images

SportItalia commentators openly curse their luck when they don’t get to see Bouah play, and the kid is the only Primavera talent to have been called-up to Paulo Fonseca’s pre-season ritiro with the senior squad this summer. But we’ve had many cautionary tales at this level, and perhaps Trastevere (and former Roma youth) player Claudio Della Penna told the most poignant of them all for Bouah’s prospects of making it.

Della Penna admitted to Il Romanista that he “never thought Alessandro Florenzo would make it”, claiming everyone at Trigoria believed more in likes of full-back Alessandro Crescenzi, at the turn of this decade, instead.

And sure, Crescenzi did turn out for the senior side back then. But Della Penna reflected: “Me and Crescenzi were part of that 2009 Italy U-20 World Cup team that knocked out Spain, then lost to Hungary in extra-time at the quarter-final stage. Two summers later, Roma would sign Jose Angel and send Crescenzi away from the club. Angel was part of that Spain side we’d knocked out. It makes you wonder...”

Italy U19 v Hungary U19 - International Friendly Photo by Getty Images/Getty Images

Makes you wonder indeed. Is it all for nothing in Italian football?

The worst-case scenario is, despite regular international appearances at every youth level (where Bouah has already been surprisingly snubbed for one summer tournament on his way up the ranks) and rave reviews at Primavera level, that Bouah simply gets lost in the transfer merry-go-round at Roma before long. No one can truly say whether Bouah will end up being Florenzi’s substitute should Rick Karsdorp leave the club, or whether the 17-year-old will eventually fade into the obscurity of loans elsewhere. For now, it’s probably best Bouah just gets a full season of Primavera football under his belt.

He was meant to enjoy that achievement last season, before injury disrupted his journey. The club did not flinch despite the ACL tear, and immediately renewed Bouah on a contract until summer 2021. Who knows if he’ll be a regular fixture in the Roma senior squad by then?