As even more non-essential industries grind to a halt around the Italian peninsula due to the coronavirus pandemic, the Serie A rumor mill continues to churn out stories. With nobody quite sure when, or even if, the league campaign will be able to resume, many have already begun to look to the summer’s transfer window. Just the other day we discussed Andrea Belotti being linked to Roma for the umpteenth time. Then on a Saturday a few more names were tied to the Giallorossi by Corriere dello Sport.
The Italian sports daily claims that Roma are looking to make four moves this summer. Four moves that essentially become six when you take into consideration the returns of Nicoló Zaniolo and Davide Zappacosta from ACL injuries. The four positions pinpointed by the article are left wing, center back, reserve striker, and midfield.
While Stephan El Shaarawy’s desire to return, United raising the valuation of Chris Smalling, and yet another link to Mariano Diaz were all mentioned for three of the positions, let’s focus on the fourth: midfield. Three names were mentioned by CdS. First there was the potential of a Bosman move for Giacomo Bonaventura. Then the potential for a swap of plusvalenzas with Juve of Bryan Cristante for Rolando Mandragora. Lastly, and as CdS called him, the true objective: Gaetano Castrovilli of Fiorentina.
Castrovilli would certainly be an intriguing name for the Giallorossi midfield. The 23-year-old Pugliese midfielder was one of Serie A’s breakout players before the season was abruptly halted. Castrovilli went from little known commodity to a household name on the peninsula after just a few months when he received his first Azzurri cap back in November. It’s a rise that has caught the attention of the big clubs around the league; namely Napoli and Roma.
Fiorentina generally has played a 3-5-2 both under Vincenzo Montella and Bepe Iachini with Castrovilli featuring mostly as a left mezz’ala. However, early on at hometown club, Bari, and later while at Cremonese on loan, Castrovilli did play in more of a trequartista role. Something that suggests he could be a versatile midfield cog for Paulo Fonseca.
Castrovilli has played just over 2,000 minutes in the Viola midfield this term, contributing three goals and two assists. His three goals are more than any Roma midfielder this season, but it’s another aspect of his game that likely makes the Roma hierarchy salivate. The 23-year-old is a great dribbler of the ball.
This season Castrovilli is averaging 3.2 successful dribbles per match. In comparison, only one Roma player is averaging more than 2 successful dribbles per match: Zaniolo at 2.4. This dribbling ability has also allowed Castrovilli to draw 2.6 fouls per match. This is again superior to any Giallorossi player with Zaniolo closest at 2.3 fouls drawn per match. Meanwhile, no other Roma player has drawn more than 1.6 fouls per match this season.
Castrovilli’s dribbling ability would bring a new facet to Roma’s midfield. His offensive skill set which couples that dribbling with good vision and pace could help Roma create numerical superiority on the break. That’s something that could be lethal when incorporated with Roma’s pacy wingers and Lorenzo Pellegrini’s defense splitting passes.
Despite Castrovilli’s upbringing as an attacking midfielder, he has proven to be no slouch in defending. He has averaged 1.8 tackles per match, which would be joint lead with Amadou Diawara for the most on Roma’s current roster. This suggests he should be able to transition to Fonseca’s 4-2-3-1 in both the double pivot and as a change-up to Pellegrini in the trequartista position.
All of these characteristics have drawn some comparisons to Marco Verratti’s game. That’s some high praise for an up and coming Italian midfielder. But just how feasible this move is for Roma remains to be seen, especially considering they won’t be the only big club vying for his signature.
While Castrovilli would be an intriguing addition to the Roma midfield, there are likely some obstacles to this move. For one, the price tag will be lofty. The Viola refused Napoli’s €40 million offer for Castrovilli back in the winter window. It would likely take at least that much, if not more, to pry him away from Fiorentina in the summer. For a team in Roma’s position that’s no small fee for a player who has played less than one full season of top flight football.
It’s also said that Fiorentina’s owner Rocco Commisso is not fond of the idea of selling Castrovilli. In a summer where Federico Chiesa could also push for a move away from Florence, it would be a tough pill to swallow for Commissio to lose both of his young Italian stars.
CdS claims that Alessandro Florenzi could be used as a makeweight to help convince Commisso and his Roman DS Daniele Pradè of sending Castrovilli south to the capital. Nothing like making a rumor just a bit more juicy. Let the mill keep spinning.