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Is Roma Angling for a New Right-Back?

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Is that even a realistic target, and what would it mean for Alessandro Florenzi and Rick Karsdorp?

Lille OSC v AS Roma - Friendly match Photo by Aurelien Meunier/Getty Images

Man, the summer has really blown by, hasn’t it? It feels like only yesterday that Roma announced Paulo Fonseca as their new manager; that was nearly two months ago. Add in Gianluca Petrachi’s long-awaited appointment and the five men’s senior team signings he has brought, and it’s been an eventful couple of months for the Giallorossi. However, there are quite a few questions hovering over Trigoria at the moment. Beyond the obvious Will Dzeko/Schick/Defrel/Pastore/NZonzi/Coric/WowThisIsALotOfNames Be Sold?, there’s also the matter of defensive reinforcements.

The signing of Gianluca Mancini was a boon for the Roma of both the present and the future, and trading Luca Pellegrini for Leonardo Spinazzola looks like it may be a prudent move in the long run. Even given those signings, Fonseca and Petrachi are still on the hunt for two more defensive additions: one more centerback who can ideally pair with Mancini in the long term, and a right-back reinforcement to either spell or replace Alessandro Florenzi in the starting eleven. We can have the discussion of whether Florenzi deserves a starting spot at right-back anywhere, just like Romanisti have had it for the past, oh, I don’t know, three years? Regardless, it’s important to look at the names that Roma’s been linked to on the fullback front, if only to get a sense of the piggy bank that Petrachi is still playing with this late in the mercato.

There are two big names linked to Roma and Fonseca’s desire for fullback reinforcements: Elseid Hysaj of Napoli and Davide Zappacosta of Chelsea. Both would provide either starting-caliber right-back prowess or excellent rotational ability, yet, as per usual with Roma, price point will certainly be an issue. Antonio De Laurentiis reportedly won’t budge from his €20 million valuation of Hysaj, which seems excessive for Roma given her troubles with Financial Fair Play. Meanwhile, Zappacosta’s Chelsea move (originally orchestrated by our very own Gianluca Petrachi) bumped his salary to nearly €4.5 million a year, which doesn’t exactly fit with Roma’s salary structure at the moment.

It’s not a surprise that Zappacosta and Hysaj are on Roma’s wish list for a new full-back. Even when Zappacosta was at Torino and Luciano Spalletti was at Roma (wow, how time flies), he was reportedly a target for the Giallorossi. Hysaj hasn’t been linked much to Roma before, but the Albanian’s performances for Empoli and Napoli have always been promising. If there’s one thing Roma appears to be looking for this summer, it’s Serie A experience; Hysaj combines relative youth (25) and good experience on the peninsula in a way that appears to be particularly enticing to Roma’s new DS.

Of course, no matter how good Hysaj and Zappacosta may be, one of the biggest stumbling blocks for Roma to bring in a new right-back is that Roma already has a few expensive right-backs on the books. We can, and will, continue to debate Alessandro Florenzi’s effectiveness as a right-back, but considering Jim Pallotta’s intent to keep Roma as Italian as possible, it seems unlikely that Florenzi will be sold. Rick Karsdorp, on the other hand, has looked like a dead man walking (at least in a Roma kit) for nearly his entire tenure with the Giallorossi. Unfortunately, it’s equally true that, despite constant rumors of an imminent departure for the Dutchman, all of those rumors have translated to zero movement on his part. With mere weeks left until the start of the 2019-2020 Serie A season, every hour passing increases the chances that Karsdorp will still play for Roma, at least until January.

Personally, I’d expect a move for either Hysaj or Zappacosta to only happen if Karsdorp is sent away. Barring that, I can’t see the unfortunately tight-pursed Roma splurging on a third right-back who should theoretically be starting. If Karsdorp isn’t sent away, well, at least Devid Bouah might get a chance with the senior side.

Poll

How should Roma proceed at right-back?

This poll is closed

  • 26%
    Bring in Elseid Hysaj
    (172 votes)
  • 21%
    Bring in Davide Zappacosta
    (137 votes)
  • 46%
    Platoon the role between Alessandro Florenzi, Rick Karsdorp, and Devid Bouah
    (297 votes)
  • 5%
    Other: I know better than Petrachi, and I’m going to sound off in the comments to let him know who he should really be going for
    (37 votes)
643 votes total Vote Now