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Ranking Roma’s Youth, #6: Gonzalo Villar

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In just a half season in the Italian capital, the young Spaniard has already begun to turn heads.

Gonzalo Villar of As Roma in action during the Serie A... Photo by Marco Canoniero/LightRocket via Getty Images

Everyone loves to sign the next big thing on the transfer market, but if there’s one thing our sixth ranked player proves is that there’s plenty of value to be found if a sporting director looks hard enough. Enter Gonzalo Villar.

Number Six: Gonzalo Villar

Frosinone Calcio v AS Roma - Pre-Season Friendly Photo by Matteo Ciambelli/DeFodi Images via Getty Images

Age: 22

Position: Midfielder

Current Club: AS Roma

Future Comparison: A Poor Man’s Xavi

Who is He?

The 22-year-old Spaniard came through the Elche youth ranks before graduating to their B side in 2014 at just 16. Then in 2015 he moved to Valencia where he split time between the youth and B sides before returning to Elche in 2018. Upon his return to Elche, Villar became a regular of the second division side, making 35 appearances. He’s also currently a member of Spain’s U-21 side.

Upon his arrival in Rome from Elche for just €4 million Euros in Juanuary, Villar was a relatively unknown quantity. Now he looks to stake his claim as an important piece of Paulo Fonseca’s midfield rotation.

What Can He Do?

His body of work thus far has been small (just 292 minutes for Roma), but the early returns speak to Villar’s potential. Villar is a central midfielder who’s strength is his passing ability from the regista role. However, he’s more than your average regista who sits back and distributes. Villar looks to get forward and played in more of an attacking role at Elche. He also has shown the desire and ability to win the ball back. He has the mentality of a total footballer and could play regista, mediano, mezzala, trequartista all in one game.

Against Juve, we saw a player who put in a complete performance in the midfield. Villar ran more than anyone on the pitch (11.44km), completed 96.7% of his 30 passes, dribbled 6 opponents, and won the ball back 4 times.

His finishing leaves something to be desired, as we saw against Parma, but he knows how to set up teammates, recording two assists in Roma’s first preseason friendly.

What Can He Become?

Villar has seemingly won over Fonseca and many Romanisti in his short time in the capital. He’s far from a finished product, but he looks to be a player who can dictate play from the center of the park with his passing ability.

My initial reaction was to compare him to David Pizarro, but Villar is less of a specialist. Dallagente, our resident Villar-file, describes him here:

Pizarro was almost entirely a forward-looking player (mostly because he didn’t have the pace to run back anyway) whereas Villar plays 360 degrees. He’s not afraid to pass it in any direction if that’s what it takes to move the opponent around. The only player I can think of is Dejan Stankovic, or the most obvious one in Xavi.

Whether he's a poor man's Xavi or latter day Stankovic, Roma will have gotten plenty of bang for their €4 million.