After a self-imposed hiatus from Miotto’s Musings due to finals, your favorite semi-regular series on Chiesa di Totti is back for the international break! My return couldn’t come at a better time, as Roma’s recent losses to Parma and Napoli before the international break are obviously exclusively because I had to step back from my musings. I’m sorry for those losses, of course, but now that I’m back in the fold, we can expect the Giallorossi to win all of their remaining matches.
Zaniolo’s Euro Dreams Dwindling
Remember Nicolo Zaniolo? The guy who’s the most exciting Italian attacking prospect since Mario Balotelli exploded on to the scene, the kid who can slalom through defenders like nobody’s business? You’d be excused if you forgot him, or at least if you’ve forgotten him outside of his exploits in the tabloids with various supermodels. The Italian international and Next Great Hope For Roma has barely seen the pitch since his ACL tears in 2019 and 2020, but after a check-in with his doctor, it looks like Nicolo may be set to return to the pitch in mid-April - just weeks away.
Even with that return on the horizon, though, Italian National Team manager Roberto Mancini has effectively silenced rumors that Zaniolo might be returning to the Azzurri squad in time for the Euros this summer, saying:
We’ll evaluate (Zaniolo) when he’s back. We are thinking about his situation, but we can’t take any risk if he is not ready. He is young, and he will have the chance to play other important competitions.
Miotto’s Musing: Although Nicolo will naturally be disappointed to not have a chance to win silverware with the Azzurri this summer, this is definitely for the best. Sure, Francesco Totti was able to come back quickly from a potentially career-ending injury for the 2006 World Cup, but he was 30 and had had years and years of world-class play under his belt before that injury. Zaniolo on the other hand is still 21, and although his play at the top level has been mesmerizing to date, we don’t really know much about his future play-style or ability now that he’s had both of his ACLs fixed. It’s far better for him to work back into form slowly but surely with substitution appearances and a summer of training than to move too quickly and sacrifice future ability for a spot at the Euros.
Roberto Mancini is right: if Zaniolo can return to even ¾ of his form from before his ACL tears, he’ll be going to plenty of Euros and World Cups with the Azzurri over the course of his career. Missing one tournament won’t be the end of his chance for national glory.
Television and streaming rights are what make the world go ‘round in sports these days. Sure, it’s important to get people into the stadium when the world isn’t struggling with a major pandemic, but the bonkers contracts that are handed out for television rights are the foundation of all those sky-high transfer fees and player contracts. We’ve already written recently about what DAZN’s purchase of Italian domestic rights to Serie A might mean for the league and for Roma, but it’s also notable that ViacomCBS recently purchased the US rights to Serie A for a reported €55 million. That means that Champions League football, Europa League football, and Serie A will be on one streaming service next season if you live in the United States.
Miotto’s Musing: The €55 million fee for broadcasting rights in the United States is small potatoes compared to the domestic rights Serie A secured from DAZN, but one might argue that it’s even more crucial of a move for a league that is still working to break into the American market. ESPN+ is a fine service, and obviously ESPN is arguably the leader in sports news stateside, but signing with ViacomCBS’ streaming service, Paramount+, will probably be a good thing for Serie A, Roma, and Paramount+ itself. For the league and Roma, being paired with a service that will be streaming all Champions League and Europa League matches can only help expand their respective footprints in the United States, while Paramount+ gets a huge slate of matches to show on their fledgling service. We’ll see how this all turns out once the fall rolls around, but I’m cautiously optimistic that moving from ESPN+ to Paramount+ will be a great thing for American followers of Serie A.
Letting Go Of Lopez
Tiago Pinto’s hunt for a new starting goalkeeper continues apace, as although Pau Lopez has shown signs of improvement over the past few weeks, it’s certainly not enough to warrant further investment in him as Roma’s #1. Practically any goalkeeper with promise or ability is being linked to the Giallorossi these days, with Pierluigi Gollini, Alphonse Areola, Maarten Vandevoort, Alex Meret, and Alban Lafont all touted as potential purchases by the rumor-mongerers in the past week.
Miotto’s Musing: We’ve spilled a whole lot of digital ink on potential Edin Džeko replacements over the past several months, and for good reason, but I wouldn’t be surprised if Tiago Pinto’s priority in his first summer mercato wasn’t a star striker but a long-term solution at goalkeeper instead. Since I started seriously following the Giallorossi, the club has typically never been short on offensive capability; even in this muddled, underwhelming season, the reason why Roma is anywhere close to contention for a Champions League spot is its offense.
I’m not expecting Pinto to find a new Alisson Becker, but even a goalkeeper who can mimic Wojciech Szczęsny’s time in Rome would probably be enough to put the club into far more serious contention for silverware, domestically and in Europe. Wins start in the back, and the Giallorossi have exciting defensive prospects everywhere but between the sticks. Bringing in a commanding goalkeeping presence will make more of a difference now and in the future than any striker the Giallorossi can afford on the open market; let’s just hope that Roma’s new DS avoids signing another dud.