Today’s Super Bowl Sunday here in the United States, but for us Romanisti, it’s a far more important day: the day after yet another loss to Juventus. All kidding aside, Roma certainly looked better against Juventus than they did against Lazio and Spezia. I’ll admit that’s a low bar, but hey, I’m trying to be more positive in 2021. Given that, away we go with Miotto’s Musings, Volume III.
Allegri Allegations Annulled
The dance between Max Allegri and the Giallorossi has been years in the making; it seems like every time the manager’s seat in Trigoria gets even lukewarm, Allegri’s name is mentioned as a possible replacement manager. With Roma’s recent struggles with Paulo Fonseca, Allegri’s name popped up yet again in the rumor mill, with some reports even suggesting that the Giallorossi had already signed the Italian manager to take over from Fonseca following the end of the season.
Those rumors look to be scuppered, though, with TuttoMercatoWeb getting an interview with Allegri’s agent that effectively pours cold water on any chance Roma and Allegri meet up this summer. Massimiliano Branchini called the rumors “pure fantasy,” which is about as concrete of a denial as he could put out. Unless he’s lying, that is.
Miotto’s Musing: Max Allegri signing with Roma would certainly be a statement of intent by The Friedkin Group, but I’m not entirely sure it’s the right signing for the Giallorossi at the moment. In the immediate aftermath of Roma’s loss to Juventus, many noted that Roma’s problem wasn’t necessarily tactical, but just player quality and depth. Roma has star players, but they’re definitely not the caliber of player Allegri is used to working with towards a Scudetto. There’s a reason reports are now suggesting Allegri may be bound for Real Madrid; that’s the level of club he typically manages, and Roma is far away from that level for the moment.
If I were Dan Friedkin, I’d have a little more faith in Paulo Fonseca and give him and Tiago Pinto a full summer with a larger checkbook, instead of just throwing a big contract at Allegri and hoping for the best. Fonseca hasn’t been a perfect manager for the Giallorossi by any means, but if we’re being realistic, Roma can’t attract a higher-quality manager than him (at least for now). By contrast, Roma’s place in the table would be far more secure if the Giallorossi had real upgrades at goalkeeper and striker, and Roma has shown itself as being capable of attracting star-level players at that position in the past. Those kinds of investments can translate to more points on the board far more quickly than yet another managerial change.
In my book, it’s far better to try to develop some semblance of continuity at the club than to once again hit reset on the “Turn Roma Into A European Superpower” Project. Worst case scenario, that reset button is hit next year, right? I’m sure that there will be a market for many of the young players on Roma’s books right now.
Coulda Chosen Cragno?
Speaking of goalkeepers that might be an improvement on Roma’s current FUBAR between the sticks, Football Italia has a juicy piece of gossip from one Graziano Battistini, agent of Cagliari shot-stopper Alessio Cragno. Battistini alleges that if former Walter Sabatini protege Ricky Massara had stayed in Rome instead of moving on to A.C. Milan, Cragno would most likely have ended up playing for the Giallorossi. Granted, this is a player’s agent speaking to the press, so take anything he says with a grain of salt. Still, though, imagine Cragno in Pau Lopez’s place. Intriguing, no?
Miotto’s Musing: I’m not exactly shocked that a former Roma Director of Sport was looking at signing one of the better goalkeepers in Serie A. After the sale of Alisson Becker to Liverpool, the Giallorossi have basically been in a perpetual search for the Brazilian’s replacement; looking for love in all the wrong places, so to speak. I doubt Cragno moves to Roma this summer, as he looks set to be a long-term replacement for Samir Handanovic at Inter. Nevertheless, a rumor like this popping up tells us more than just “Cragno’s agent is trying to keep up the interest in his client’s services.” Let’s just hope that nobody in Tiago Pinto’s camp is under the impression that the search for an Alisson replacement is anywhere near over. Goalkeeper by committee just won’t cut it if the Giallorossi wants to be a Champions League power.
Ciervo’s Chance Coming?
You’d be excused for not noticing that there was a new face on the bench for the Giallorossi against Juventus on Saturday. Fonseca called up Latina-born Primavera player Riccardo Ciervo with the rest of the senior squad yesterday (he’s the kid with the number 16 kit in the picture above), and although he didn’t see the field against The Old Lady, if the rumor mill means anything, he might be seeing Serie A minutes quite soon. The Corriere Dello Sport claims that Ciervo is “one of the most interesting prospects in the Primavera squad this year”, with the Giallorossi apparently fending off transfer interest from Sampdoria earlier this year. With Ciervo signing a renewal last November tying him to Roma until 2024, it sure seems like the winger might be getting minutes under Paulo Fonseca sooner rather than later.
Miotto’s Musing: If you’ve read any of my articles in the past, you know that I’m a big believer in Roma using its highly-praised Primavera set-up to fill in cracks in the senior squad. There are a couple of reasons for this. First, I’m a sucker for whenever a new star is born for a club, particularly if that player is from seventy kilometers outside of Rome like Ciervo. Second, Primavera players are typically cheap, usually on long-term contracts, and hungry for minutes at the senior level. That combination of positives just isn’t replicable with any other potential senior transfer; even a young prospect like Max Kumbulla came in with a large price tag and higher contract because the Giallorossi outsourced his development to Hellas Verona. Letting a player like Ciervo see the field can see their value grow by leaps and bounds, even if they aren’t 100% ready for the jump to senior football. In short, it’s a smart choice for any club to promote Primavera players.
Of course, there’s zero guarantee that Riccardo Ciervo is the next Francesco Totti, let alone a serviceable Serie A player. Regardless, for a club like Roma with aspirations that often exceed its financial capabilities, it is absolutely crucial to find Serie A level talent early and put it in the best position to succeed. Paulo Fonseca has done a remarkably good job with younger players in the senior squad; players like Gonzalo Villar and Roger Ibañez were not exactly viewed as superstars-in-the-making before they put on a Roma kit. He’s also given chances to other Primavera players, with Riccardo Calafiori and Tommaso Milanese standing out this season already. While the Giallorossi are in a fight to the death for Champions League placement, it might be harder to justify minutes for Primavera players. Even so, I hope that the second half of the season sees more time for Calafiori, Milanese, and Ciervo. They just might show that Roma’s depth problems can be solved in-house.