For most of the past few seasons, Ebrima Darboe was just another name (though one with an incredible backstory) on Roma's crowded list of prospects hoping for a crack at the first team. While the young Gambian midfielder had plenty of intrigue, we simply didn't know where he'd fall on the Primavera prospect spectrum: Was he a Zaniolo in the making or just another kid bound to fall short of expectations?
Entering the 2020-2021 season, we weren't exactly expecting an answer to that question either. But thanks to a spate of injuries in Roma's midfield, former manager Paulo Fonseca gave the then 19-year-old midfielder his first taste of first-team football with an eight-minute cameo against Sampdoria in early May.
Darboe only saw 12 touches at the Luigi Ferraris that afternoon but just four days later he saw his first significant action for Roma...against Manchester United...in the Europa League semifinals; not exactly a hum-drum match in which to test one's mettle.
However, with 61 impressive and undaunting minutes on the pitch against United, Darboe quickly became an indispensable part of Paulo Fonseca's swansong with Roma, starting the final four matches of the season (and Fonseca’s tenure with Roma).
Thanks to the poise, composure, and effectiveness with which he played down the stretch, Darboe became less an afterthought and more a center piece for Roma's next big project, so much so that Darboe is already in line for a new contract extension.
According to Il Tempo, Roma and Darboe's reps are working on a four-year extension for the 20-year-old midfielder, one that will pay him a reported €500,000 per season, though that figure will reportedly rise with each successive year of the contract.
Either way, this is a tremendous signal of intent from the club and their new manager José Mourinho. By locking down Darboe, not only is Roma safeguarding against a foreign club plucking him from their grasp, they're letting Darboe how important he is, not just to the future of the club but its present.
This is an incredible story and an incredible development for what we hope will become an incredible player.