We’ve seen Roma attempt to battle Juventus on the transfer market numerous times over the years, but rarely do the Giallorossi ever beat out the Bianconeri to a player’s signature. Nevertheless, every once in a while, Roma actually comes out on top. It happened with two notable signings over the course of the last decade or so when Roma beat out Juve for Juan Iturbe and Patrick Schick. Unfortunately for Roma, both of those players turned out to be busts in the Italian capital, and the club was left with little to show for its heavy investments.
Just about six months ago, Roma beat the Bianconeri to the signature of another player. though. That transfer saga may not have garnered the headlines of Iturbe or Schick, but all reports indicate that Juve was going hard after American teenager Bryan Reynolds. In the end, Reynolds chose Roma over Juve and his pal Weston McKennie.
The detail that seemed to swing the €6.75m deal in Roma’s favor was the fact that Roma wouldn’t immediately send Reynolds out on loan. He would be given a chance to earn playing time at a major European club. And as the season wore on, Reynolds started to get some looks under Paulo Fonseca.
It was a speculative buy. A classic low-risk, high-reward signing. One that could pay major dividends for the Giallorossi if Reynolds pans out, but won’t kill them on the books if he doesn’t.
And it appears that even with the arrival of José Mourinho, Reynolds will be given the opportunity to repay some of Roma’s faith in him as Rick Karsdorp’s understudy. According to reports, the Giallorossi have turned down numerous loan offers for Reynolds from newly-promoted FC Venezia and others around Europe. Clearly, Mourinho and Roma like what they’ve seen from the now 20-year-old American. So, let’s discuss just what that is and why it landed him in our U-23 top 10 countdown.
Number Nine: Bryan Reynolds
Future Comparison: Alphonso Davies lite
Who Is He?
Born in 2001, just days after Roma’s last Scudetto triumph, Reynolds is part of an up-and-coming generation of footballers from the United States honing their craft with some of Europe’s biggest clubs. Reynolds arrived at Roma from FC Dallas of Major League Soccer whose academy he joined at age 12.
Reynolds made his professional debut at age 17 for Dallas in May of 2019, eventually totaling 29 appearances in his brief MLS career. And in 2020, he was named the club’s Most Valuable Player, Defensive Player of the Year, and Breakout Player. Quite the haul for a 19-year-old at any club.
Reynolds is the second American to don the Roma shirt (Michael Bradley 2012-2014) and became the youngest American ever to start a Serie A match last spring. He’s represented the United States at various youth levels, something his father Keith also did. However, Bryan has already gone a step further than his old man by making his US senior side debut on March 28.
What Can He Do?
Reynolds is a well-built kid, standing at 6’3”. He possesses explosive athleticism, which is what makes him such an intriguing prospect. However, his game as a right-back still needs a lot of work, considering he’s been playing the position for less than two seasons.
Having played in an offensive role in the early stages of his career, the attacking phase of Reynolds’ game is more polished than the defensive side at this point. With that attacking experience, two of Reynolds’ best attributes from his MLS days are his combination play and crossing ability. Those are nicely illustrated in this scouting report from just before his Roma arrival in January by Half Spaces.
He’s got the physically imposing frame to be strong both on and off the ball. That being said, he needs plenty of work in the defensive phase of the game and he has looked overwhelmed at times during this preseason. However, during my interview with Brian Sciaretta of American Soccer Now back in February (Fast forward to about 21 minutes in for the full interview), he praised Reynolds as a quick learner who could improve with the right coaching. So, with Jose Mourinho and his staff in place, the defensive education of Reynolds should be in full swing this season.
What Can He Become?
As Sciaretta put it, the dream for Roma would be for Reynolds to develop into something along the lines of an Alphonso Davies in terms of playing style. With the size and athleticism that Reynolds possesses the hope would be that he could be the modern full-back that could use his pace to bomb forward and create offense while also using his size to win physical duels.
He’s a long way off of Davies at this point in his career, but with the proper refinement and more experience he certainly has the potential to at least be a solid attacking full-back. Just how good he becomes overall likely depends on how well he can pick up the nuances of defending because he has all the physical tools to be a very good player.