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Zaniolo, Mancini Highlight Roma's Topshelf Talent in CdT Reader Survey

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We asked, you answered. Now let's separate the prime cuts from the dog food.

Italy Official Team Photo Photo by Marco Luzzani/Getty Images

It's spring cleaning season for most of us, a time when we shed all manners of excess: old hats and gloves, dress shoes from that one wedding three years ago, your C&C Music Factory t-shirts, and yes, even a few pandemic pounds. Roma's spring cleaning won't occur until the transfer window opens in July, but that doesn't mean they can't (or shouldn't) start taking inventory now.

The only way to truly discern which players are genuine building blocks and which ones are transfer fodder is to perform an honest assessment of their value to the club: are they carrying their weight or dragging Roma down?

We won't know the official answer to those questions for about 90 more days, but in the meantime, we thought it would be interesting to get your opinion on which of the 27 men currently wearing the imperial red and yellow of Roma are worthy of that honor.

Late last week, we asked you to classify every player currently on Roma's senior roster, categorizing them as follows:

1: Players they can cut without missing a beat.

2: A good relief player during times of injury or packed fixture lists.

3: An average player/intermittent starter/late-game sub. Useful but nothing special.

4: A regular starter with one or two above-average skills.

5: A building block, unquestioned starter, possible future star.

We had an almost overwhelming response, so without further delay, let's take a look at how the dust settled. The rankings were based on the plurality of the vote for an individual player. In other words, whatever rating one through five received the greatest portion of the votes is where that player ultimately ranked.

The One-Star Players

ACF Fiorentina v AS Roma - Serie A Photo by Giuseppe Maffia/NurPhoto via Getty Images

These players are a bit old, a bit battered and a bit bruised. But no matter what led them here, their best days are likely behind them.

  • Federico Fazio (69%)
  • Juan Jesus (81%)
  • Javier Pastore (75%)
  • Davide Santon (68%)
  • Daniel Fuzato (58%)

Instant Analysis

No real surprises here. Fazio, Jesus, and Santon have all seen better days, while you could write a book on Javier Pastore's struggles since signing with Roma. I was, however, a bit surprised to see Fuzato on this list; with only one appearance in a Giallorossi shirt, he still has ample time to prove his worth. Time will tell but I have strange confidence in the young Brazilian keeper.

The Two-Star Players

AS Roma v Wolfsberger AC: Group J - UEFA Europa League Photo by Silvia Lore/Getty Images

The smallest section of this distribution, these three players have their useful moments but if they left Trigoria tomorrow, I'm not sure there'd be many tears.

  • Pau Lopez (31%)
  • Antonio Mirante (40%)
  • Bruno Peres (39%)

Instant Analysis

It's a bit telling that all three of Roma's goalkeepers were essentially graded as below average. While Lopez has performed much better in 2021, the rumor mill churns out new keepers seemingly every day, so Lopez is likely to cash his paycheck somewhere else next season.

Peres, meanwhile, has stitched together one of the strange careers in recent memory, managing to save a bit of face over the past year with his career resurgence after bottoming out in the Brazilian minor leagues in 2019. Antonio Mirante, a backup keeper, feels about right as a two-star player at this stage in his career.

The Three-Star Players

FBL-EUR-C3-SEVILLA-ROMA Photo by FRIEDEMANN VOGEL/POOL/AFP via Getty Images

Now we're into the meaty part of the bell curve; the players who effectively serve as the baseline for these rankings. Never flashy and seldom at fault for a breakdown, these players are the foundation for any roster.

  • Riccardo Calafiori (35%)
  • Bryan Cristante (45%)
  • Amadou Diawara (49%)
  • Edin Dzeko (30%)
  • Borja Mayoral (48%)
  • Pedro Rodriguez (40%)
  • Carles Pérez (52%)
  • Bryan Reynolds (49%)

Instant Analysis

Geeze, talk about a grab bag! Between these eight players, we have teenaged up and comers, the club's third all-time scorer, a three-time Champions League winner who also won a World Cup, an Italian who is somehow also Canadian, and a couple of young Spaniards who may not even be with the club after July.

Being perfectly middle of the road feels about right for veterans like Dzeko and Pedro, guys who can still contribute in small doses, but I'd be curious to see where Calafiori, Reynolds, and Diawara would land a year or two from now.

The Four-Star Players

FBL-EUR-C3-ROMA-SHAKHTAR DONETSK Photo by FILIPPO MONTEFORTE/AFP via Getty Images

Rock-solid starters with a few genuinely above-average skills, these are the guys you expect to deliver consistently solid performances, with the occasional highlight-worthy goal or game-changing tackle thrown in for good measure.

  • Stephan El Shaarawy (52%)
  • Roger Ibañez (44%)
  • Rick Karsdorp (54%)
  • Marash Kumbulla (42%)
  • Henrikh Mkhitaryan (48%)
  • Chris Smalling (55%)
  • Gonzalo Villar (43%)

Instant Analysis

Another interesting mix of talents, Roma's four-star players feature a couple of veterans (Mkhitaryan and Smalling) who are still capable of playing at an extremely high level when healthy, two guys hitting their prime years (SES and Karsdorp), and a few of the clubs finest young talents (Kumbulla, Ibañez, and Villar).

Based on the simple physics of aging, it's not likely that Smalling or Mkhitaryan ever ascend to five-star players, but it will be interesting to see which of Ibañez, Kumbulla, or Villar climbs that ladder first.

And, I mean, what else can we say about Karsdorp's rebirth this season? If we ran this survey last year, I think he would have been laughed off the screen.

The Five-Star Players

AS Roma v Bologna - Italian Serie A Photo by Silvia Lore/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Finally, we've reached the cream of the crop. The pillars of the squad, the stars (or stars in the making) and the players we fear losing every summer.

  • Gianluca Mancini (72%)
  • Lorenzo Pellegrini (67%)
  • Leonardo Spinazzola (46%)
  • Jordan Veretout (57%)
  • Nicolo Zaniolo (88%)

Instant Analysis

I gotta admit, when I drew this survey up, I thought the five-star rank was Zaniolo or bust, so this was quite a pleasant surprise. Joining Zaniolo, who had the highest plurality of any player in any category, are the tireless legs of Veretout, the continued turnaround from Spinazzola, and two players in dire need of new deals: Pellegrini and Mancini.

Unlike the leanest summers of the Pallotta regime, Roma fans probably don't have to worry about losing any of these five-star faces this summer, so we might finally enjoy the sweet taste of continuity on our tongues next season.

Thank you to everyone who took the time to complete the survey—it was very enlightening. Look for our official rankings later this spring!