For the first time since the start of 2021, the Giallorossi have gotten a break of longer than five days between matches. A match with eighth-place Hellas Verona is staring them down on Sunday, and although the stakes couldn’t be higher on the pitch for Paulo Fonseca, the off-the-pitch rumblings around the club have continued at a fever pitch.
Another week in a mercato, another flurry of stories about Edin Džeko’s supposedly-imminent departure from the Giallorossi. This time, though, the stories seem to indicate that it’s more Roma looking to offload the Bosnian than the other way around; we’ve already written about the (apparently fake) Icardi-Džeko swap, while the Alexis Sanchez-Džeko swap appears to have just enough of a chance of happening that Gianluca Di Marzio says that Tiago Pinto and Piero Ausilio are meeting today to try to make the swap happen:
Add in the fact that Džeko will reportedly not be in the squad for Roma’s match against Verona on Sunday, and even if this turns into a whole lot of nothing for the winter, it does seem that the Giallorossi are getting serious about moving on from Džeko sooner rather than later.
Miotto’s Musing: As I said last week, I have no idea what’s going to happen with Džeko this mercato. I will note that rumors that pop up in the news with only a couple of days left in the transfer market almost never come to fruition, particularly with player swaps like the Džeko - Alexis Sanchez move that’s supposedly gaining traction.
My new musing on this Džeko drama is simply this: wouldn’t it be nice if Roma could actually develop a starting-caliber striker in-house? Think about all the young striker talents Roma has bought through the past decade, and think of all the promising strikers who have come up through the academy. Marco Tumminello, Gianluca Scamacca, Patrik Schick, Edoardo Soleri, the list goes on. All of these players were forwards heralded as potential long-term solutions at striker, yet each never was given the minutes necessary to take the leap while in Rome.
Part of this is the nature of the Roman environment. With the exception of a Zaniolo here and a Calafiori there, Roman coaches are hesitant to throw a young player into the deep end, both for the player’s sake and for the sake of their continued employment. This is particularly true for the striker position, where simple counting stats make it much easier for fans or the media to say “This nineteen-year-old with his entire career ahead of him is a bust because he hasn’t become Lionel Messi overnight.”
I don’t have a solution for how to enable striker prospects to find success in Rome. So far, it seems as if Borja Mayoral has been the exception to the rule, but he’s already 23 and grew up playing for Real Madrid; if there’s anywhere with brighter lights and a more demanding media than Rome, it’s the city of the Galacticos. All I know is that until Roma gets a new stadium, the Giallorossi are going to have to get significantly better at developing forward talent. Signing a player like Džeko towards the end of his career and still getting five years of great production out of him is a one in a million event. A successful club can’t be built on that.
In slightly lighter news, the club also announced this week that they were setting up a new youth academy in New York, appropriately named the AS Roma International Academy. Francesco Calvo, the COO of Roma, had this to say in the press release:
“Evidence shows us that there is a huge rise in the demand for football coaching among young Americans. Our coaching programmes and overall philosophy fit perfectly with this growing interest in the game. To be bringing the club’s values to New York is undoubtedly a moment of great pride for all of us.”
They even set up an Instagram page for the new academy, detailing why you or your child might want to entrust the Giallorossi with football development:
Miotto’s Musing: This isn’t the kind of investment that pays off immediately, but it’s the kind of investment any club with aspirations for European glory needs to be doing, and not just in the Tri-state area. Even if the Giallorossi don’t uncover “The Next Christian Pulisic” through this academy, or even a “Next Bryan Reynolds”, the players who play in the New York Academy will hopefully become fans of the senior club, increasing the reach of the Giallorossi internationally. If done right, this relatively minor piece of news can be a big win for the club’s long-term prospects.
Interesting to note that they used Džeko’s image there, too.
Silvestri Between The Sticks?
You might have noticed that Roma’s current goalkeeping team has been sub-par, to put it mildly. To put it slightly less mildly, there is no doubt in my mind that out of the top six clubs in Serie A right now, the Giallorossi have the worst starting goalkeeper of the lot. That kind of gaping hole in a squad that is still somehow contending for a spot in the Champions League tends to create a lot of transfer rumors. It’s like if you buy a Maserati without a steering wheel; everyone knows you’re going to need to buy that wheel sooner or later, and hopefully one that doesn’t fly off while you’re driving.
Enter Marco Silvestri, currently of Hellas Verona and putting together a pretty nice season for himself, conceding under a goal per match and leading a defense that is tied with Juventus for fewest goals allowed. Calciomercato.it is reporting that Silvestri has impressed enough this season to catch the eye of Roma, Lazio, and Inter. All three clubs would be planning on purchasing Silvestri in the summer, and with his rumored price-tag being only €8 million, you can expect the list of suitors for his services to only grow.
Miotto’s Musing: Roma needs a new goalkeeper as much as Americans need another round of government stimulus checks: a whole hell of a lot. Personally, I’ve lost what little hope I had left for Pau Lopez, and I’m essentially resigned to him either rotting on Roma’s bench next year or being sold for peanuts compared to his original €23.5 million the Giallorossi paid for him. There are a lot of reasons to be skeptical of Silvestri as a long-term solution at goalkeeper, including the fact that eighth-place Hellas are the biggest club he’s ever played for at age twenty-nine. Given that, if his price tag truly is less than half of Lopez’s, he could be a good short-to-medium-term solution for the Giallorossi at goalie. Would I prefer a goalkeeper who was younger and had a chance of starting for his national team? Yes, but beggars can’t be choosers, and Roma are certainly begging for a better goalkeeper right now.