For as long as I can remember, Roma’s youth academy has been considered one of the best in Italy, if not Europe. It’s easy to see why: even if you exclude the obvious superstars in Francesco Totti and Daniele De Rossi from the conversation, academy graduates like Alessandro Florenzi, Lorenzo Pellegrini, Matteo Politano, and Alessio Romagnoli have all grown into players worthy of Azzurri call-ups, with several other youngsters like Gianluca Scamacca looking like they may one day break into the national team set-up as well.
Still, the players Roma taught from the ground up often find it difficult to break through into Roma’s actual senior side. Some of this is natural. Roma is a big enough club that she needs to have players who can win now (or at least win most of the time), and she can’t afford to act like a Sampdoria or Cagliari by filling the senior squad with Primavera players who are just getting their toes wet in Serie A football. Yet when Romanisti grumble (and they grumble a lot), one of the repeated refrains is that the senior squad needs to make better use of the Primavera side. As he starts his new job in the Eternal City, José Mourinho looks set to do just that.
Filippo Biafora of Il Tempo reported recently that Mourinho is set to include six Primavera players in his July 6 training with the senior side: goalkeeper Pietro Boer, defenders Amir Feratovic and Filippo Tripi, midfielder Nicola Zalewski, and forwards Riccardo Ciervo and Ruben Providence. Add in midfielder Ebrima Darboe, who is rightfully considered a member of the senior squad more than the Primavera squad these days, and that’s seven youngsters who will be getting the chance to prove themselves under the Giallorossi’s new manager.
It’s certainly likely that Tiago Pinto will send most if not all of these youngsters out on loan, but the fact that they’re getting this review from Mourinho is an indicator of how far they’ve come in Roma’s academy set-up. For my money, I think that Riccardo Ciervo might be the most likely to stick around the senior side for next season; he’s gotten quite a lot of hype over the years, and as any Romanista knows, there’s certainly an opportunity for young forwards to find space in the senior squad as it currently stands.
You might notice that there’s one obvious name missing from the ranks of potential youngsters getting a chance with Mourinho next season, and that’s Tommaso Milanese. Milanese is the only Primavera player who scored a goal for the senior side last season, and he’s long been considered a high-potential midfielder who could make an impact on the senior side sooner rather than later. Despite that, Biafora maintains that Milanese is probably not going to get a chance to train with Mourinho, as Roma may be looking to sell the Apulian (along with fellow midfielder Edoardo Bove) to a smattering of Serie B and A sides who are interested in his services.
Personally, I’m hoping that any sale of Milanese is in the style of Roma’s transfer of Lorenzo Pellegrini to Sassuolo in 2015; a loan in a transfer’s clothing, giving the receiving club true incentive to play a young midfielder in need of quality minutes. We won’t know if Roma are saying a presto or arrivederci until Milanese is transferred, of course, and that’s if he’s sent away at all.
It’s an exciting time to be a Romanisti for a multitude of reasons; Leonardo Spinnazola has been impressive at the Euros, the signing of José Mourinho has made even Francesco Totti happy, and the New Balance kits look to be only days away from release. If another Primavera player can join Ebrima Darboe in the senior side, that’d be icing on the cake.