During their inaugural campaign in the top flight, Roma had to pull out all the stops to conjure together a competitive roster. Pulling from the ranks of now defunct Serie A Femminile teams, as well as a smattering of players from Germany, Scandinavia and even colleges right here in the states, Roma’s roster was a clever mix of veterans and youth. However, once the season began, Annamaria Serturini and Agnese Bonfantini were really the only U-23 players to garner significant minutes, with Serturini eventually leading the club in scoring.
With a host of veterans brought in from abroad this summer, most notably Andressa and Andrine Hegerberg, this season figures to feature that same blend of youth and experience. However, don't let that blind you to the wealth of young talented on this squad. Much like their counterparts on the men's side, there is a hoard of U-23 talent bursting through the ranks.
So, much like we've done every summer for the past five years with the men, we're going to run through the Top 10 U-23 talents on Roma's Women's roster.
#10 Alice Corelli—Forward
Teenage striker Alice Corelli is the lone Roma Primavera talent to train with Bavagnoli’s senior squad this summer. Corelli first met football a decade ago, seeing her brother play around the house and deciding to pursue the sport herself. The results of Corelli’s ambition already speak volumes: she’s rising ahead of her years in the Roma Femminile ranks, and makes regular appearances at international level with the Azzurine U-16s.
Corelli is built like a tank compared to her contemporaries, and even compared to her seniors. Within the Roma ranks, she’s the prototype for the target-women striker that only Maria Zecca embodies among the senior players, now that Martina Piemonte has again left the country to pursue La Liga football. Can Corelli become the next Piemonte? Or even go one better and combine her physique with goalscoring at senior level?
So far, the signs are promising. Corelli jumped to the first team squad based on her prolific scoring record in last season’s Primavera campaign where she finished the season as the joint-capocannoniere of the women’s Primavera league, and her goals pushed Roma Primavera all the way to the Scudetto final. Alice Corelli now has one foot in the door of senior level football, and we wait for her first appearance this season.
#9 Emma Severini—Midfielder
Roma have doubled down on the theme of physically dominant teenagers by signing all-round midfielder Emma Severini from Fiorentina this summer. 16-year old Severini could play anywhere in the middle of the pitch and already has for both club and country. She has the physical beating of any midfield opponent, but her frame masks an even better technique on the ball that has football writers wondering what Severini can go onto become at this level.
Footage of Severini playing is scarce, but the articles surrounding her presence on the field are well in their numbers. The Italian prodigy leaving Firenze and join up with Bavagnoli is seen as a coup for Roma, even in the context of the heavy-hitter names signed ahead of Severini at senior level. She’s one of those Pogba-esque tuttocampista players that people struggle to confine to one position. Within Bavagnoli’s football, she can find the passes to break through lines or simply run through them, all while protecting the ball on the defensive end too.
Emma Severini was an Italy U-17 teammate of her now-Roma teammate Heden Corrado, during the 2018-19 Euro qualifying campaign. Severini played every single one of those seven qualifying games as Italy fell short of qualifying for the main tournament itself. She has strong competition in Roma’s midfield this year and it’ll be an achievement if she makes more than a handful of appearances with the Giallorosse, but expect her appearances with Italy to continue.
#8 Flaminia Simonetti—Midfielder
Another Roman in the ranks, Simonetti grew up idolizing none other than Francesco Totti, and while she doesn’t possess his sublime skills (but who among us does?) she is every bit as Roman as the club’s legendary number ten. Simonetti has been involved in virtually every manifestation of women’s football in Rome: RES Roma, Roma CF and now AS Roma, making over 100 appearances and scoring 15 goals since turning pro at all of 14-years-old.
Last season was Simonetti’s breakout in many ways. Though she played a bit role for the first half of the season, Simonetti managed a career high five goals in only 940 minutes. Playing in midfield and attack, Simonetti proved herself to be a valuable and versatile asset for Betty Bavanogli, winning and maintaining possession in the midfield while making late runs into the box to pepper the opposing keeper, all while playing three or four positions.
At 22-years-old, Simonetti’s career is at a bit of a crossroads. With Roma reinforcing their midfield and attack this summer they chose to loan Simonetti out to newly promoted Empoli. If she impresses, she could return to compete with Roma’s young and talented midfield, if not she can assume an even larger role with Empoli. So while we don’t know exactly where her future lies, Simonetti is just a footballer in the purest sense; you can’t define her, but she’ll always be in the thick of the action.
#7 Heden Corrado—Defender
If there’s one thing Roma fans love almost as much as Francesco Totti and Daniele De Rossi it’s when a young defender begins to burst through the ranks. While he ultimately revealed himself to be a Lazio fan (and really not that great a player), Alessio Romagnoli was hailed as the next great Italian defender when he first donned a Roma shirt way back in December of 2012, with many predicting scores of caps leading the Azzurri backline. And now that I think about it, that’s more of an Italian thing not just a Roma thing, but I digress.
You see, the reason I started off with that woebegone comparison is because Roma has another prodigious backline talent working her way up the ranks, 17-year-old Heden Corrado. Roman born and bred, Corrado grew up idolizing Sergio Ramos and following Juventus (we can forgive her, Roma’s team didn’t exist yet) and has featured for Italy at the youth ranks, most notably the U17 European Championships in 2018 where she started six matches before Italy was ousted in the group stage. So fast is Corrado’s star rising, she’s already being called the future of the Azzurre’s defense.
Corrado may have featured at other positions in her younger days, but take one look at her and you’ll see that she’s right at home in central defense.
Corrado (#14, top right), roughly 5’7”, is an imposing presence on the backline and is already one of Roma’s tallest players. And lest you think she’s just a bruiser, Corrado has a deft touch and a cool head, one that should ensure she’s ready to join Sara Gama and Elena Linari with the senior national team when the time comes.
In the meantime, look for Corrado to exceed the eight Serie A appearances she made last year. Roma made a lot of moves this summer, but none in central defense, suggesting that they’re reading to hand the reins over to Corrado and Allyson Swaby.
Corrado is going to be a good one, and certainly one Roma will want to keep at all costs. Central defenders don't necessarily get all the headlines, but Corrado could be the best of this lot before all is said and done.
#6 Camelia Caesar—Goalkeeper
21-year old goalkeeper Caesar has been around Serie A Femminile and holds the trophy accolades to show it. Caesar first arrived in Italy as a 14-year old signed to keep goal for the Torino women’s team. It wouldn’t take long before current Italy coach Milena Bertolini would take on Caesar, back when Bertolini was running the Brescia’s women team as the most promising Serie A club for promoting women’s talent in the country. Two league titles and several cups followed for Caesar, but her time in goal was intermittent as she traded appearances with teammate Chiara Marchitelli through the Brescia years.
Caesar has struggled to convince any of her coaches that she’s consistent, starting material. But she is still very young and brings an extraordinary amount of experience to Rome for her age. It’ll be her agility and calmness in goal that will convince Bavagnoli to take a punt on Caesar between the sticks or not.
A lot has changed since Caesar first showed promise with Brescia a handful of years ago. Caesar spent last season on the AC Milan bench before leaving for Roma this summer, and the Romanian’s international career has stalled for the last year. She needs first-team football to get her potential back on track. She has already ousted one Italy #2 keeper during her days at Brescia, and she’ll have to repeat the trick if she’s to get ahead of Rosalia Pippitone in Roma’s goal.
Stay tuned for part two later this week where we unveil the top U-23 Giallorosse talents.