After so many years spent in the wastelands, wandering aimlessly in search of a decent full-back pairing, Roma finally emerged from the wilderness last season, with Rick Karsdorp and Leonardo Spinazzola surfacing as one of Serie A's best full-back duos. However, thanks to Spinazzola's Achilles injury at Euro 2020 and the mounting fatigue on Karsdorp's own surgically repaired legs, Roma is suddenly back at square one: frantically searching for help at perhaps the hardest position to fill in football—full-back.
With Spinazzola on the mend, there is hope on the horizon, but when you factor in Karsdorp's already heavy workload (his 1,038 Serie A minutes are second-most among Roma outfield players) and José Mourinho's reticence to play Bryan Reynolds, the stories linking Roma to a variety of right-backs begin to make sense.
We don't have a direct line to Tiago Pinto, but Roma's GM would be wise to consider these five humble suggestions. This list is a mixture of names already connected to Roma and a few who fit similar profiles: steady players with ample experience but by no means star players.
And we'll start with a reunion for which some fans are already clamoring.
Club: Manchester United | Age: 22 | Contract: June 2023
Having spent parts of two seasons with Mourinho at Old Trafford, it was only a matter of time before the two Portuguese were linked with a reunion. In many ways, Dalot is your typical post-hype prospect: a young player whose reputation is propped up as much by potential as production. While he is undeniably talented, playing time has been hard to come by for the 22-year-old. Whether it was at the Theatre of Dreams with United or the San Siro with AC Milan last season, Dolot has done more watching than playing, logging little more than 1,200 league minutes the past three seasons.
Despite that lack of experience, Dolot fits the Mourinho profile: an active and aggressive defender, one who is particularly adept at reading and predicting attacking moves, as evidenced by his club leading three interceptions per 90 minutes.
His Mourinho connections are likely driving these stories, but Dalot's potential will always make him an intriguing option for full-back needly clubs like Roma.
Club: Lille | Age: 24 | Contract: June 2023
The list of clubs linked to Çelik seemingly grows by the day, so he may not be the easiest capture on this list, but for Pinto and Roma, the juice may be worth the squeeze. And with Lille facing nine-figure debts of their own, someone is going to capitalize on their misfortune, so why not Roma?
Since debuting with Lille as a 21-year-old in 2018, Çelik has scored five goals and chipped in 10 assists in 117 appearances (all comps). Çelik may not create as many scoring or shooting chances as Karsdorp, but with an average of 4.64 balls played into the final third (per 90 minutes) and 1,271 yards in progressive carries, the kid can definitely move the ball up the pitch.
With a rumored €20 million price tag, Çelik certainly won't come cheap, but he can supplant and possibly even replace Karsdorp in the not too distant future.
Club: Arsenal | Age: 26 | Contract: June 2022
Already mentioned as a secondary option to Dolot, Chambers could kick-off 2022 by joining his countrymen Tammy Abraham and Chris Smalling at the Stadio Olimpico. After missing an entire year due to a torn ACL, Chambers found his way into Mikel Arteta's good graces last spring, making 13 appearances between the Premiership and Europa League down the stretch.
While Chambers has found playing time harder to come by this season, given his skill on the ball and impending free agent status (and the fact that he can play center-back in a pinch), he could be a cheap and intriguing option for Roma this winter.
The Chambers-to-Roma stories were quickly refuted by the Italian media last week, but with a minimal transfer fee attached, if any, he could become Roma's new right-back by default.
Club: Sampdoria | Age: 29 | Contract: June 2023
He may not be the most exciting name on this list, but the 29-year-old Sampdoria defender is no stranger to Roma fans. Since arriving from Legia Warsaw in the winter of 2017, Bereszyński has been a mainstay for Sampdoria, making nearly 150 appearances in all competitions since then.
Known more for his defensive capabilities and positional versatility than attacking prowess, Bereszyński could be considered the ideal midseason acquisition. With ample Serie A experience, a hard-nosed style, and a penchant for protecting the ball, Bereszyński is no shrinking violet. Drop him under the bright lights of the San Siro, the hostile surroundings of the Stadio Diego Maradona, or some random rainy night in Genoa, and the results will likely be the same—Bereszyński is solid.
And for a club that is just embarking on a major remodel under Mourinho, steady players like Bereszyński are worth their weight in gold.
Club: Rennes | Age: 29 | Contract: June 2023
We're going off the beaten path with this selection, but the soon-to-be 30-year-old Mali international is a passing machine. According to Football Reference, compared to full-backs in Europe's major five leagues over the past year, Traoré ranks in the 80th percentile or higher in the following categories: passes attempted and completed, progressive passing distance, long passes completed, long passing percentage, passes into the final third, progressive passes, passes into the penalty area...you get the picture.
He's done equally as well carrying the ball, too, compiling similar rankings in carries, progressive carries, carries into the final third, fewest times dispossessed, etc. Defensively, while he’s not quite as exemplary, Traoré ranks in the 77th percentile in tackles + interceptions, so if nothing else, he's an active defender.
Traoré will likely miss the first month of the New Year while on duty with Mali at the Africa Cup of Nations, but with his age, experience, and considerable assemblage of skills, Traoré would be an excellent addition to a still-developing Roma squad.
There you have it: five simple suggestions to fix Roma's lack of depth at right-back. But which player would you choose?
Which right-back should Roma sign?
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