There aren't many hard and fast rules to being a Giallorossi fan but page one of the AS Roma Fan Manual includes explicit instructions on how fans should react when a Roman suits up for the team: you should go mental... in the best possible way. We've mentioned it many times in these spaces but when a local kid suits up for the Giallorossi, it just hits a bit differently. You can't explain exactly what it matters, you just know that it does... a lot.
And those emotional swings are more extreme when the kid in question is returning to Roma. We saw it several years ago when Lorenzo Pellegrini first started making a name for himself with Sassuolo, sending Roma fans into a tizzy wondering when our golden boy would return to the fold. Fortunately for us, the Giallorossi were clever enough to insert a €10 million buyback option when they sold Pellegrini to Sassuolo in the summer of 2015, making for a relatively stress-free reunion when the club's former ballboy returned to the capital in 2017.
Here we are five years later and Roma finds themselves in nearly the same boat: desperately trying to reacquire a talented, Roman-born midfielder from the Neroverdi. Only this time around, they didn't have the foresight to include a team-friendly buyback clause into the equation. And with all due apologies for burying the lede, Roma are trapped in a potentially expensive version of Groundhog Day as they attempt to bring midfielder Davide Frattesi back to Trigoria.
Frattesi, who came up through the Roma ranks before being sold to Sassuolo in the summer of 2017, is fresh off an impressive debut season with the Neroverdi. In his first taste of the top flight, the 22-year-old Roman looked cool, calm, and collected, logging 38 appearances in all competitions, adding four goals and three assists for good measure. The stats may not have been overwhelming, but for a kid making his professional debut, Frattesi looked like he belonged, and that speaks volumes about his maturity and suitability for Roma's latest project.
And with his hometown club looking to remake their midfield, Frattesi's Roman return makes as much narrative sense as it does practical sense; the fit is almost too good to be true. According to multiple sources in Italy, Roma are intent on chasing that fit to the ends of the earth, remaining locked in negotiations for Frattesi, who the Neroverdi value at some €35 million.
At first glance, that price feels a bit steep for a kid lacking significant top-flight experience, but Roma may attempt to use their 30% resale stake in Frattesi to drive the price down. Meanwhile, outlets like Sky Sport, Tuttomercatoweb, and La Gazzetta dello Sport each claim that Roma are willing to include young talents like Felix Afena-Gyan, Tommaso Milanese and/or Cristian Volpalto to reduce Frattesi's cost even further.
Despite his Roman roots—not to mention all the recent business between the two clubs—wresting Frattesi back from Sassuolo will be no easy feat. However, given all that he means to the fanbase and all that he'd bring to the table for Mourinho, bringing Davide Frattesi home could very well be Roma's most important move of the summer transfer market.