Eternal City ambition: can Roma challenge European elite?
Roma, 10/1 favourites with Coral to lift the Europa League, clearly have lofty ambitions for the future, which will also hopefully help reinvigorate Serie A along the way.
The Giallorossi have recently unveiled impressive plans to construct a new 52,500 seater stadium inspired by the Colosseum, in a nod to Rome’s fascinating history.
Set to be completed by 2017, Roma’s new home should certainly see more fans and consequently funds flood the capital club, with a potential knock-on effect at other elite Italian sides.
Speaking recently, Roma Primavera coach Alberto De Rossi, father of superstar and talisman Daniele, outlined new owner James Pallotta’s influence, stating: “Mr Pallotta is revolutionising everything—there’s so much energy, he’s like a volcano!
“They’re working to ‘internationalise’ the club… You can really feel it, there’s a great desire to improve,” added De Rossi senior.
As evidenced by the Giallorossi crashing out of the Champions League at the hands of Premier League giants Manchester City though, the Serie A side still have some way to go before they can challenge at Europe’s top table.
So while fans wait for the future to unfold, how can the Stadio Olympico side push on and ensure they are more than also-rans in the short and medium term?
Fresh faces in defence
Roma’s rearguard could certainly do with a makeover, with full back and centre half both problem positions.
Disappointing Cagliari-owned defender Davide Astori will likely return to his parent club at the end of the season and, whilst youngster Costas Manolas and currently sidelined Leandro Castan may be a partnership for the future, the Giallrossi have not yet adequately replaced Mehdi Benatia.
A little strength in depth would be welcomed, and the capital club is said to be keeping tabs on Tottenham’s Vlad Chirches. Rather than snapping up Spurs’ surplus, however, Roma should try and compete for the services of soon-to-be free agent Fabian Schar.
At full back, with veteran Maicon also on the treatment table, the Giallorossi should certainly aim to upgrade both left and right back roles. Adaptable Matteo Darmian looks the most likely option, but Domenico Criscito and Davide Santon could provide more experience.
Protecting the posts
Almost any goalkeeper can look out of sorts when protected by a porous defence, but Morgan De Sanctis, who conceded 11 Champions League goals in just four appearances this season, has had long enough to prove himself.
A superior stopper is clearly required and there are plenty of up and coming talents out there, with apparent Arsenal target and future Italy number one Mattia Perin, Fiorentina custodian Norberto Neto and Australia star Mat Ryan amongst them.
A striking star
It may seem like blasphemy to any Giallorossi fanatic, but fantastic Francesco Totti will one day hang up his boots.
Inter academy product Mattia Destro had looked like a natural replacement for the Roma legend, but seems to have fallen out of favour with Rudi Garcia and looks set for a summer switch.
Pallotta has spoken of adding “another striker for depth” but it may be prudent for the club to find their next superstar instead of a squad option.
An audacious move for Radamel Falcao has been mooted and the Colombia hitman would be just the kind of big-name draw to help lure others to the Olympico.
Stopping the Serie A exodus
The Eternal City outfit have been sending conflicting messages about the availability of their best players, with top clubs said to be circling for the likes of Kevin Strootman.
Speaking of Strootman, owner Pallotti stated: “I wasn’t going to sell him anyway”, but later added: “If someone comes in with a stupid number for a player, you have to listen to it. You can’t just say no, no matter what.”
There is no question that Roma must retain their main men if they are to remain an attractive destination. Serie A must stop selling it’s best players to La Liga or the Premier League if Italy is to truly re-establish itself as a football superpower.
This means the likes of Juan Iturbe, Gervinho, Radja Nainggolan and Miralem Pjanic must be kept at all costs. If they can hold onto their prize assets the sky could be the limit for Roma who are 11/4 to beat Juventus to the Serie A title.