Anytime any Roma side beats any Lazio side at any level in any sport, it's cause for celebration. While the senior Giallorossi have had their struggles against the Biancocelesti in recent years, we've seen some absolute thrashings of Lazio at the Primavera levels during that same period; a trend that continued this weekend. In their round five fixture against Lazio earlier this afternoon, Alberto De Rossi's boys continued their perfect start to the season by waxing their neighbors in a 4-0 rout.
With goals from Ruben Providence, Tommaso Milanese (he may have gotten on the wrong school bus), Filippo Tripi and Riccardo Ciervo, Roma made light work of seventh place Lazio, while extending their lead on the top of the table to five points in the process. Results aren't the be all end all of Primavera football, but De Rossi certainly seems to have found the right mix of ingredients with these kids.
In case our headline didn't clue you in, let me introduce you to the star of this particular match: 19-year-old Ruben Providence. Plucked from PSG's scrap heap in the summer of 2019, little was known about Providence at the time. Still, despite the lack of press coverage, we couldn't help but get excited about Providence's potential.
Here was our brief assessment of the then 18-year-old winger, who, at that point, had just appeared on PSG's youth scene in the UEFA Youth League:
Providence...seems like he’s your prototypical touch and go winger, one who can drift in from out wide and be in the middle of the box after a couple quick give and goes, but you’ll also notice he spends a fair bit of time driving the ball right through the middle, and showed off some impressive dribbling and hesitation moves to shake off Tottenham’s left back multiple times. So, as far as wingers are concerned, he’s showcased pretty much everything one desires from a wide player.
That was a pretty muted assessment all things considered, but without having a bevvy of stats, information or videos, there's only so much insight one can offer about a kid so young and inexperienced. But Providence showed out in his debut, scoring a goal against Chievo in September of 2019. Unfortunately, that would be Providence's only strike of the season, but he would chip in three assists (including two in a 4-2 win over Inter) over the course of a debut season that included 17 appearances (811 minutes) in all competitions.
With players like Alessio Riccardi, Riccardo Calafiori and Devid Bouah overshadowing him, Providence sort of got lost in the shuffle, but if the season's first five matches are any indication, he's more than making up for lost time.
Providence has featured in all five of Roma's matches thus far, tallying 418 minutes, the most recent of which—90 minutes today against Lazio—were perhaps his most impressive yet. In today's 4-0 derby laugher, Providence drew first blood with a cutting goal from the left flank while he set up Roma's second goal with an equally impressive exhibition of skill.
On his first half strike, we caught a glimpse of Providence's speed, agility and close control:
Almost immediately, you get a keen sense for what makes Providence so special at this stage in his development: he has an explosive first step, top-end speed, and pretty decent agility and balance; skills that enabled him to carry the ball and drive past several defenders from approximately 45 yards out...and he finishes it all off from an incredibly tight angle against an on-rushing keeper.
Lest you think Providence is a head-down, shoot first winger, take a look at this assist:
In almost a carbon copy of the prior play, Providence cuts in sharply from the left flank, dribbling past and shielding the ball from a defender, before playing a beautifully weighted and precisely-placed low cross to Milanese to double the Giallorossi's lead. In addition to showcasing his quick first step and dribbling ability, Providence flashed impressive vision and presence of mind to find Milanese in the middle of box, playing the ball with perfect touch and timing to give Milanese a gimme goal.
Primavera success doesn't always translate to the topflight, but if the true marker of success at this level is growth, then Roma fans should be over the moon about Ruben Providence's progress. With one goal and two assists through five matches, Providence has already equaled his goal output from last season and is well on his way to surpassing his three assists from last term.
However, the most impressive part of Providence's season thus far is a far less glamorous statistic: time on the pitch. With 418 minutes under his belt already (roughly 80 minutes per appearance), Providence seems like an integral part of De Rossi's plans this season and if he can even sustain a fraction of this pace throughout the year, it may not be long before he's factoring into Roma's senior equation.