Before we begin this, our 10th annual countdown of the top U-23 players in the Roma system, let me offer a quick primer. Over the past nine years, our countdown has predominantly featured first-team players who happened to be under 23 years old. But things took an unexpected turn in 2023.
By the luck of the draw, José Mourinho's squad is comprised mainly of players 24 years old and up, which is great for The Special One, but it put our countdown in a bit of a bind. While I always hoped we could expand the series to include a U-18 list of actual prospects, we simply don't have the resources to make that a reality.
To do the series and those players justice, we'd need time to find reliable primary source material (scouting reports, match reports, highlights, etc.) to produce a series with appropriate depth and breadth. However, given the composition of this year's squad, our 2023 U-23 list does feature quite a few teenagers, so we tried our best to get as much data and information as possible, but the internet wasn't exactly bursting with information on some of these younger players.
Rant over. Let's get on with the countdown!
Number Ten: Giulio Misitano
Shades of: Mauro Icardi, Ezequiel Lavezzi, Nicolo Zaniolo, Lautaro Martinez, maybe Eden Hazard
Who is He?
This is where we meet the limitations of scouting young Italian players online. A Roman by birth, Transfermarkt lists Misitano as a duel Italian/American citizen, which likely stems from the fact that he spent part of his youth in New York, playing in the Metropolitan Oval Academy, where Giallorossi scouts spotted him.
Misitano began his Giallorossi career at the U-16 level, and since then, all he's done is score goals... lots of them.
What Can He Do?
In the clip above, from a U-17 match against Lecce in March 2022, Misitano (wearing the number 9 shirt) had a hand in all three Roma goals. On the first goal, we see Misitano begin the play with a clever shoulder dip, giving the defender pause before he makes the turn and races down the left flank. From there, Misitano cuts in slightly, drawing two defenders toward him before he plays the ball to the point of the 18-yard box, setting up the goal.
But his second assist is even prettier. After picking up the ball about 35-yards from the goal, Misitano stutter-steps to shake free from the first defender before dribbling around him and then hitting him with another stutter/drag/curl move, pulling another defender toward him before centering the ball into the middle of the box to set up Roma's second goal. And finally, we see Misitano grab his own goal, using a similar bag of skills, finishing off the match with a calm left-footed goal.
Of course, that's just one illustrative example. Still, in 69 appearances at the youth level, Misitano has scored 39 goals and provided 12 assists, proving he can contribute in all phases of the attack.
What Can He Become?
This is always the tricky part of these pieces, especially when dealing with a player as young as Misitano. We've certainly seen kids with prodigious scoring records fail to advance through the system. However, the fact that Misitano has already shown an impressive level of dynamism, partly because he's played multiple positions in attack before becoming a striker, bodes well for his future.
And with no center-forwards of note blocking his path to the Stadio Olimpico, Misitano stands as good a chance as any young striker we've seen in Trigoria over the past several years. This year, his first full season at the Primavera level will be critical in his development, but he impressed in last year's Coppa Primavera, scoring one goal in two appearances.
As we've seen this summer, Roma's inability to develop a proper striker has hamstrung the club at the highest level, leaving Tiago Pinto scrambling to find a suitable replacement for the injured Tammy Abraham. So, if they're patient with Misitano and give him sufficient time to develop, he may be able to solve the club's homegrown striker riddle.