Three straight seasons of following this Roma team has led us here. We’re finally confident enough that we can do a full U-23 Countdown for the women’s team, after finding ourselves hitting the ‘Refresh’ key on transfer news, checking up on friendly schedules, and generally losing our patience with the wait for the new Serie A Femminile season to kick off.
Hey, watching Roma win a Coppa Italia will do that to you as a fan.
On one hand, the current Roma crop of youth know that they’ve now got experienced cup winners standing in their way, in a senior squad that’s hungrier than ever to march up the Serie A table this coming season. On the other hand, Roma hired Alessandro Spugna as manager and knew his calling card was promoting and developing youth into senior football, through his priors gigs at Empoli and even Juventus Primavera. So who—out of our names below and in this coming week’s full countdown—can convince Spugna to roll the dice on them?
Ranking Roma's Youth: Honorable Mentions
Safia Khady Tall
Prior Club: Guingamp
Future Comparison: Lindsey Thomas
We’ve seen French forward tall for less than one half, as she came on for Roma in the middle of the club’s 4-0 drubbing at the hands of Bayern Munich this August. But we were immediately surprised with how Tall’s physique and presence lack nothing compared to her senior teammates.
There was nothing Tall could do to get in the game or make an impression on the match against Bayern in that AMOS French Cup final, but coming up against one of the top four teams in European football and having less match fitness than them (Bayern kick off their league season earlier than Roma do) meant that was completely expected. It’s still flattering that Tall took the jump from an academy like Guingamp’s in France to find her feet in Rome, so maybe ex-Roma forward Lindsey Thomas told Tall what was up before Thomas took her move to AC Milan this summer.
And Thomas is exactly who we’re comparing Tall to, if you’ll excuse the easy stereotype of comparing French forward for compatriot forward. Same nationality but also same versatility of roles along the frontline, Spugna giving Tall game time against opposition the likes of Bayern Munich (literally the best opponent Roma has ever faced in the club’s brief history—even if only in a friendly) is a serious vote of confidence that the young Tall can hang at Serie A level.
We figured Serena Landa might make a comeback to serve as the vice-Glionna for Roma this season, but it may just be Tall taking up that right-wing spot from off the bench.
Prior Club: AC Milan
Future Comparison: Camelia Ceasar
Normally CC would be way up (way, way up) in our U-23 Countdown in any given summer, let alone after her Coppa-winning heroics this past May. But we couldn’t actually agree on whether November-born Ceasar was actually eligible for the countdown, given she turns 24 in the middle of the coming league campaign.
But we’ll pay respects with an honorable mention all the same. We’ve said everything there is to say about CC in our post-season goalkeeping review weeks ago and our most recent pre-season goalkeeping review. It still sometimes makes you double-take that Ceasar is only 23 years of age, given all the accolades she’s achieved in the game at Torino, Brescia, and Roma already.
Prior Club: Brescia
Future Comparison: Sarah Bouhaddi
Very much like Ceasar before her, Gilardi became an accomplished keeper at Brescia while the Italian is still in her teens. Three seasons with one of Italy’s traditionally best clubs in women’s football saw Gilardi enjoy youth-level wins over bigger franchises like AC Milan and Atalanta’s youth teams in recent years before Gilardi was promoted to Brescia’s first-team keeper at senior level in Serie B last season. She played 19 games in total before agreeing to move to Roma this summer, in the process becoming a reserve keeper all over again.
We’ve yet to see Gilardi in action, but she’s described as a sweeper-keeper for the present and future: Good with her feet and brave when it comes to rushing out of goal. That’s pretty important when it comes to Spugna’s all-around offensive tactics, so it’s no surprise that Gilardi is the only one of four Roma goalkeepers on the books that has been signed on Spugna’s watch. French international goalkeeper Sarah Bouhaddi is seen as the master of sweeper-keeper play in the women’s sport, so that’s what we imagine Gilardi is aiming for in the future.
Will Gilardi get a look in on any senior action for Roma this season? Maybe a cup game? She’ll never both Rachele Baldi and Camelia Ceasar to slip up ahead of her, not to mention Roma Primavera’s back-to-back champion goalkeeper Katia Ghioc alongside her.
Prior Club: Roma C.F.
Future Comparison: Barbara Bonansea
This is more of a now-or-never call for Vigliucci, who is one of the many young talents A.S. Roma poached from their development deal with Serie B’s Roma C.F. (whose youth academy was rebranded under the A.S. Roma name for now) in recent seasons. Then Vigliucci popped up on our TV screens in time for Roma Primavera’s Final Four playoffs this past spring, where she was essential in keeping Roma up the pitch and easing the pressure off the team by holding onto the ball down that left flank in an almost Diego Perotti-like manner.
She’s more of a ball-carrier and creator than the prolific Barbara Bonansea, but they occupy the same area of the pitch in their respective careers. Vigliucci has been given the entire pre-season to train with Roma’s senior team this summer, so that’s either a show of faith in the club that now is Vigliucci’s time or it’s a precursor to a move elsewhere. It could be the latter, given that Vigliucci didn’t actually play in any of Roma’s pre-season games, but the club have developed an intriguing talent in Chiara all the same.
Prior Club: N/A
Future Comparison: Sara Gama
We don’t know what to say on Corrado that we haven’t already praised her for in every one of the last three summers. She was one of our very earliest hopes in the U-23 Countdown but things just haven’t gotten started for Corrado in Rome, despite the fact the local kid now has a Coppa Italia winner’s medal to her name (thanks to her brief appearance in the cup last year) as well as having contributed to Roma Primavera’s league title successes of recent years.
Originally a midfielder converted to a center-half with the ability to play the ball out of defense, Corrado has now been sent out on loan to Serie A club Napoli this season (and what a team they’re putting together, by the way). But it’s still not encouraging that, in Roma’s pre-season friendly against Napoli, Corradi’s fellow Roma-loanee teammate Emma Severini saw game time off the Napoli bench where Corrado did not. The last thing we need is for Corrado to sit on a Napoli bench all season. Now is the time for Heden to put her earlier injury woes behind her once and for all, and prove what she’s got in Serie A for 2021-2022.
Position: Central Midfielder
Prior Club: Fiorentina
Future Comparison: Martina Rosucci
We can’t mention Corrado without mentioning Severini. As we said just above, Severini has also joined Corrado out on loan at Napoli this season and even played against Roma in a friendly this pre-season, where Tutto Calcio Femminile rated her performance as very encouraging the day after the game.
Severini scored arguably one of the best goals of Roma’s season last year, which flew completely under the radar because it came at the bookend of a cricket-scoreline victory for Roma in the cup. But she’s not just a midfielder who can score long-range goals, having also proven (for Italy and former club Fiorentina at youth level) that she can mix it up defensively in the tackle and help keep her team high up the pitch with her presence.
Severini wasn’t so stellar in Roma’s Primavera Final Four playoff run this past spring, looking surprisingly off the pace at U-19 level in the run-in, but she’s still helped Roma’s youth teams win back-to-back league titles all the time. The next challenge for Emma is to help Napoli beat relegation for the second Serie A season in a row this year before Roma decides whether it’s the right time to welcome the teenage midfielder back into the fold next summer.