Even though he only made his club debut last season and has yet to play a full Serie A match, Riccardo Calafiori has loomed large in Roma's plans (and their hearts) over the past 24 months. After tearing multiple ligaments in his knee during a UEFA Youth League match against Viktoria Plzen in October of 2018, Edin Dzeko soon dedicated a goal to the young Roman, posing for a photo holding up Calafiori's shirt, while none other than Roma legend Daniele De Rossi visited Calafiori during his recovery from knee surgery.
We've certainly seen Roma rally around injured players before—you'll remember the club posing with Rick Karsdorp's kit after he was hurt in his first match—but you don't often see such an outpouring of support for a Primavera player, which speaks not only to the special nature of Roma as an all-inclusive environment but to Calafiori's sheer talent and potential, not to mention his future with the club.
Calafiori was just one of several prodigiously talented prospects making their way through the youth ranks last year, but where players like Alessio Riccardi and Devid Bouah were sent on loan to Serie B clubs, Calafiori survived the cull, earning Paulo Fonseca's trust this summer and breaking training camp with the senior squad.
It hasn't been a smooth transition to the top flight for Calafiori, who missed most of the young season following a COVID-19 diagnosis, but in 90 outstanding minutes yesterday against Young Boys, he reminded us all why his inclusion with the senior team this summer was such a huge deal—he wasn't a token addition to the end of the bench, he was being groomed for an actual role.
Roman born and bred, youth standout, shattered knees, a stirring comeback story and represented by Mino Raiola; Calafiori couldn't be more Roma if he tried. But it's that last point that has the Eternal City worried.
For several weeks (if not longer), Roma have been trying to negotiate a new deal for their 18-year-old full-back, but, as is often the case, dealing with Raiola is seldom a straight-forward affair.
With claims that Raiola was seeking a €1.2 million salary, it seemed like an impasse was brewing between Calafiori and the club, who were rumored to offer “only” €500,000 per year. And that 58% discrepancy threatened to stall Calafiori's Roma career before it began, or even worse, deliver him to the evil clutches of Juventus.
But, fear no more...
According to Gianluca Di Marzio, Roma and Raiola are working on a new five-year deal for Calafiori, whose current contract is set to expire in June 2022. While Di Marzio didn't speculate on any precise wage figures (only claiming that “important figures” are being discussed), as Il Tempo speculated earlier this week, the two sides could meet somewhere in the €800,000 neighborhood—a good salary if you can get it.
Whether the new deal is four years or five years, half a mill or more, locking down Calafiori should be priority number one for Tiago Pinto. He's young, aggressive, brimming with confidence and plays a position of need for Roma—this is a no brainer.
Lock him down, ditch that #61 shirt and enjoy the show!