We’re all well aware of the defensive struggles that Roma had last season. With that in mind, this off-season was always going to be about reinforcing the backline. While we’ve heard plenty of names linked to Roma, the first man brought in was ultimately one that was originally linked to the Giallorossi back during the January transfer window. Despite Monchi not being able strike a deal then, his successor, Gianluca Petrachi, was able to do what the Spaniard wasn’t: land one of Italy’s up and coming defensive talents.
Number Six: Gianluca Mancini
Previous Club: Atalanta
Rank Last Year: N/A
Future Comparison: Leonardo Bonucci
Who Is He?
Mancini, no relation to Italy CT Roberto, a 23-year-old Italian, hails from Tuscany. He came through the Fiorentina youth ranks before beginning his senior career in 2015 with Serie B side Perugia. He was purchased in January 2017 by Atalanta but remained at Perugia on loan before finally donning the Nerazzurro of Atalanta for the 2017-2018 season. Mancini broke out last season in Bergamo, making 35 appearances and scoring six goals in all competitions.
His strong 2018-19 campaign was enough to convince Petrarchi to bring him to Roma this summer on a €2 million loan with an obligation to buy for €13 million plus another potential €8 million in bonuses. Mancini is also a member of Italy’s senior national team and was a starter for the U21 at this summer’s European Championships.
What Can He Do?
Standing at 6’4”, Mancini is a big, physical defender. However, don’t let his big frame make you think he’s no more than a lumbering liability. Mancini has decent pace and plenty of other assets to his game. He is a true modern day defender. With his big frame Mancini is able to win the physical battles and aerial duels with strikers. Yet, he is also a fearless passer who is able to open up play from the back. Plus, his prowess in the air makes him a constant threat on set pieces. Lastly, Mancini is fearless in his defending, not backing down from any opponents.
For a deeper read on the Italian, check out dallagente’s piece which is packed full of stats and more about Mancini’s game.
What Can He Become?
Mancini looks to have the tools to be a fairly stout defender for years to come. He grew up idolizing Marco Materazzi (hence #23) and I’m sure he wouldn’t mind emulating his career. When I look at Mancini, the first player that comes to mind is Juve’s Leonardo Bonucci. With the proper coaching and development then that could be his ceiling. At minimum, he should be a solid starting caliber center-back.
Like with any young defender, once he matures, he should begin to read the game better and choose when to use his physicality to limit giving up needless fouls; something that will improve with better positioning as well. That will help solidify his all around game. He is already part of the National Team mix and should remain part of the defensive rotation for the Azzurri, as well.