Roma Head of Women's Football Betty Bavagnoli has shown a knack for attracting top-tier international talent over the years, signing former League MVP Manuela Giugliano and Brazilian standout playmaker Andressa Alves during the summer of 2019. And just last week, Bavagnoli pulled off another masterstroke by signing three-time capocannoniere Valentina Giacinti.
While those are all impressive signings in their own rights, Roma's real watershed moment—the transfer that made you sit back and go whoa—came in January of 2021 when they signed Italian international Elena Linari. Having played abroad for Atletico Madrid and Bordeaux—the only member of Italy's magical 2019 World Cup squad to do so—Linari was arguably the best and most famous Italian footballer in the women's game.
To say that signing caught us off-guard was an understatement, but Linari's impact on the pitch since then has been almost incomprehensible. Since making her debut with the Giallorosse on January 23, 2021, in a 2-0 win over Sassuolo, Roma has gone on to win 70% of their league matches while earning 82% of all possible points, scooping up the 2021 Coppa Italia and securing their first-ever Champions League berth along the way.
While she's not solely responsible for that record, the correlation between her arrival and Roma's ascension is hard to ignore. And with Serie A Femminile finally achieving full professionalization this season, there was some worry that Linari might head abroad again, but fear no more Giallorosse fans:
Earlier today, the club shocked us again, announcing that Linari has extended her stay in the Eternal City through 2026. The 28-year-old center-back—like so many others who have signed or extended their deals with Roma recently—pointed to the club's ambitions as her reason for sticking around:
I am proud to have the opportunity to extend my contract with Roma
There is a great project in place here and I am delighted to continue to be part of it.
I am determined to achieve lots of great things in these colours; I hope to repay the faith the club has put in me and the affection the fans have always shown me.
With the additions of Austrian international Carina Wenninger, Japanese international Moeka Minami, and Swedish hybrid defender Elin Landstöm, Linari will lead an incredibly cosmopolitan defense as Roma fights for their first-ever league title.
Linari was crucial to Roma's recent turnaround, and if they meet their lofty objectives, you can rest assured she'll be front and center in those efforts.