Roma have officially signed Italian veteran striker Valeria Pirone, bringing back a name to the club who last played for the Giallorosse under their old guise of RES Roma back in the 2014-205 season. Back then, Pirone was Roma’s joint-top scorer with 10 goals in 23 appearances before she took several moves around the league.
The journeywoman used her prior success at Roma to take a move to the big time with AGSM Verona in 2015, who were one of (if not the) strongest team in the land back then and competing in the Champions League. But Pirone’s most prolific season was in 2016-2017, where she scored 19 league goals in just 22 league games for Bergamo-based club Mozzanica. Unfortunately, Pirone’s career has been a story of highs and lows in perpetuity as the Italian then went through a long spell of injury and trying to recover her form at subsequent clubs Chievo, Hellas Verona, and last season’s stay at Sassuolo.
The fact that Pirone has barely stayed in one place during her career should make it no surprise to Sassuolo that their now ex-number nine chose to up and leave sticks back to Rome this summer. This was despite the fact that Pirone, now at 32 years of age, recovered her form and career in a major way with the Neroverde last season.
After Sassuolo lost Daniela Sabatino in the summer of 2020, they replaced one of Italian football’s all-time greatest scorers with Pirone and were rewarded with a veteran willing to embrace the number 9 shirt, the captain’s armband, and fire in 10 league goals in 22 league games as Sassuolo finished 3rd in the league, two places ahead of Roma last season. Still, 10 league goals aren’t a league-breaking level of marksmanship, so we were left to scour the club’s official statements for any hint as to whether Pirone was signed to lead Roma’s frontline this season, or brought in as a backup player to current Roma frontwoman Paloma Lazaro.
Roma’s Head of Women’s Football Betty Bavagnoli had this to say on the move:
“Pirone is a forward with a vast amount of experience, along with great ability and determination. We are convinced we’ve signed a player who will act as a guide for some of our young players - because her desire to fight for every ball is the perfect example of a winning mentality.”
Valeria Pirone commented on her move back to Roma:
“Joining Roma at this stage of my career is a big thing for me. It will give me the chance to play with some fantastic players and challenge myself. It is an honour for me.”
We’d have to say Pirone looks like she’s been signed as a squad player and someone who will use her experience of battling through the highs and lows to raise the mental strength and unity of the dressing room. Not only have Roma signed Sassuolo’s leading striker and dealt their league rivals a blow, but it seems the club is still keeping in mind the difficulties Roma faced in getting everyone to buy into the club’s direction during the first half of last season.
Warriors like Pirone will help keep a tight ship, whether she’s starting or contributing from the bench. All that said, Pirone comes back to the club facing a very different challenge compared to her last stay in the Eternal City.
Back then, RES Roma were only looking to beat the drop and stay in Serie A. This time around, Pirone finds an A.S. Roma team looking to finish in the Top two spots and taste their first round of European football in the future. We can’t deny Pirone is not the world-class, star striker we were hoping Roma would beat all odds to sign this summer (though her form last season was good enough for Pirone to earn a call-up to Italy training with the national team), but one look at the way she plays and celebrates her team’s success on the pitch tells you everything you need to know about Pirone’s determination to get results. As the striker herself said in a Sassuolo interview last season: “One of my faults is I don’t know how to fake how I feel.”
You’re getting a leader who wears everything on her sleeve in Pirone. Welcome back to Roma!