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Roma’s Forward Group is Among Serie A’s Most Talented

The additions of Paulo Dybala and (potentially) Andrea Belotti mean that Tammy Abraham will no longer be a one-man show up top.

Tottenham Hotspur v AS Roma - Pre-Season Friendly Photo by Fabio Rossi/AS Roma via Getty Images

Despite some impressive individual performances by Tammy Abraham and Lorenzo Pellegrini, Roma’s 59 league goals last season were the fewest scored by the club since the 54 they netted in 2014-15. After tallying seven goals in the first two matches of the season, Roma eclipsed the two-goal mark only five times in the final 36 matches. Roma's Conference League title, and even their sixth place Serie A finish, owed more to their defensive improvements than a prolific attack.

Much of that was due to a lack of a secondary scorer behind Abraham (17 league goals) and Pellegrini (9 league goals), as Henrikh Mkhitaryan's five league goals were testament to the club's disappointing individual goalscoring performances; a deficit that Tiago Pinto addressed this offseason.

With Paulo Dybala and (potentially) Andrea Belotti arriving on free transfers, the forward group now boasts one of the most creative players in the league and a striker with 100 league goals.

The Forwards

  • Tammy Abraham
  • Paulo Dybala
  • Stephan El Shaarawy
  • Felix Afena-Gyan
  • Andrea Belotti*
  • Nicola Zalewski**
  • Nicolo Zaniolo***

* Belotti is rumored to be arriving on a free with Eldor Shomurodov leaving to Bologna or Torino.

**Listed as a forward officially, Zalewski will likely play mainly as a LWB.

*** Listed as a midfielder but will likely function as a forward

Key Player: Paulo Dybala

Tottenham Hotspur v AS Roma - Pre-Season Friendly Photo by Ahmad Mora/DeFodi Images via Getty Images

With all due respect to Tammy Abraham and all he brings to Roma's frontline, Dybala adds an entirely new dimension to the attack and immediately becomes its key man. The Argentine is a pure fantasista—one the Italian Capital hasn't seen since Francesco Totti hung up the #10 jersey for the last time five years ago. Dybala declined the number 10 shirt out of respect for Totti's legacy, but make no mistake; he has the skill set to carry on that tradition.

Dybala can do it all in attack. He can score. He can thread the needle. He can create chances for others. He can beat his man off the dribble. And, of course, just like Totti, he can pull a rabbit out of his hat when his team needs a hero. You name it, and he can do it. And he's done it in Serie A for a decade now, first with Palermo and then Juventus—and at just 28-years-old, he's still in his prime.

His presence alone should take Roma's attack to the next level, giving the club another goalscoring threat to take some pressure off Abraham and Lorenzo Pellegrini. He'll also be an asset off set pieces, providing a sublime southpaw to complement Pellegrini's precise right foot. Meanwhile, his creativity and passing should create a plethora of chances for Abraham, Zaniolo, Pellegrini, and Belotti to punish opposing defenses.

His injury history is concerning, so Mourinho must manage his minutes wisely. But, if Dybala can stay relatively healthy, then Roma's attack should drive opposing defenses crazy.

Player Under Pressure: Tammy Abraham

AS Roma v Atalanta BC - Serie A Photo by Paolo Bruno/Getty Images

Tammy isn't under the same kind of pressure that, say, Rick Karsdorp is as he tries to hold onto his starting role. No, Abraham is firmly entrenched as Roma's starting striker after scoring 17 league goals and 27 in all competitions last season. Still, he's under a different sort of pressure: the pressure to outperform himself and prove that last year was no fluke.

With the addition of Dybala, Tammy should find himself with even juicier chances this season. Plus, Belotti's impending arrival should afford Abraham more rest than last year, which is a good thing in the long run, as he was run ragged due to the lack of a proper backup striker.

Adding Belotti will also introduce some friendly competition in the Roma striker ranks. If Tammy goes into a cold spell and Belotti stays hot, Mourinho could be faced with a tough decision. Ultimately, this friendly competition should push Abraham to new heights. If not, and things start slowly, he may feel more pressure than expected.

X-Factor: Stephan El Shaarawy

AS Roma v OGC Nice - Pre-Season Friendly Photo by Gualter Fatia/Getty Images

Quickly approaching his 30th birthday, Il Faraone is far from the hot shot prospect he was coming up with Milan as an 18-year-old and probably isn't even the 11-goal scorer that left the Capital for China after the 2018-19 season. However, the man in the #92 shirt can contribute, even if it's in a reduced role.

Last season, El Shaarawy played just over 1,000 minutes and scored three league goals. That doesn't sound like a lot, but two of the three salvaged points (four, in fact) for the Giallorossi last season—even if his contributions are limited, Roma will need that El Shaarawy this season. If El Shaarawy can again show a penchant for scoring late in matches, he could become Mourinho's favorite last roll of the dice.

A Year From Now, We'll Say...

This was one of the most lethal attacks in the league. Abraham will be in the mix for Serie A's top goalscorer, while Dybala and Belotti add two more double-digit goal scorers to a team that sorely lacked secondary scoring last season.