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Wolf Culture

Month: September 2015

Will Iturbe Ignite?

Juan Manuel Iturbe’s transfer to Genoa was stopped short on the last minute of the mercato. Walter Sabatini’s last gasp kept Enrico Preziosi away from last season’s major investment, and in Rome until further notice. Yesterday, the 28th of September, Preziosi claimed, “We had an agreement, a handshake, and a single contract to be signed. Iturbe agreed with us, then greeted his teammates. Sabatini’s decision left me very complexed, and I have not had an explanation of his behavior.”

A strange decision by Sabatini, indeed. If he had wanted to sell Iturbe, there are a few explanations as to why he would take such hasty action, damaging relations against an organization Roma often does business with: 1) Sabatini had someone else planned which was kept secret, and that deal collapsed, forcing Saba to keep another winger. 2) Sabatini didn’t think he would be able to loan Ibarbo. 3) Sabatini spoke with management, and they believed that if Iturbe didn’t have a strong loan-spell, his value would deteriorate even further. 4) Management really does believe in him, just as they did last year when they spent over 25 million euros on him. 5) Rudi and Iturbe spoke behind closed doors, and were able to seek reasonable terms for his playing time and growth.

Will Iturbe make it past the January transfer window? That is another question entirely. In Roma’s seven matchesgarcia_iturbe played this season, he has featured in all but one. However, his total time is only 118 minutes. Not even three halves worth. In testament to what he can offer, Iturbe’s goal against Frosinone was a splendid half-field run, and a selfishly great shot, made by that of a confident forward. However, when given more time, he still struggles to play for a centerforward, and provide the build-up play so crucial for Rudi Garcia’s attack. Subbed out in just the 50′ in the draw against Sassuolo, Rudi does not hesitate to pull him when his failure to build becomes the obvious. Iturbe’s pout when leaving the field was a sign of the player’s discontent, but he had no one else to blame but himself for that match.

Iturbe is likely to start tomorrow against Bate. Without Dzeko or Totti, Garcia will be deploying three wingers, who will seriously need to work on building their play with one another. There will be no lobbing up to Dzeko and running onto the ball; the trident of wingers will be forced to act as one cohesive unit, or we will not succeed. If Iturbe can take it to the boys in Belarus, then there is still hope for him in giallorosso. If not, a rescue by Sabatini will not come again in January.

 

Sudiq Umar: Primavera Conqueror

La Spezia lies several hours’ drive north of Rome, hugging the Ligurian Sea with open arms, and rocky shores. The little brother of Genoa, Spezia never was a major center for calcio. Yet, thanks to a working relationship with the infamous Abuja Football College of Nigeria, Spezia came across two ultra-talented players in Sadiq Umar, and his brother, Abdullahi Nura. The latter a wingback, Sadiq began his career in Italy with a wondrous start: 26 goals in 24 matches. His performances warranted a call from the first team, and he sat on the bench for Spezia’s 2014/15 Serie B campaign, in a handful of matches. 

In a summer mercato filled with the likes of Mohammed Salah and Edin Džeko, it’s no surprise that not many (including myself) did not notice that Roma had purchased Sadiq and his brother, for a fee believed about 3 million euros total. All before it is October, Sadiq already has 6 goals and 1 assist in the two matches played. That’s right, two matches.

In last year’s 2-0 loss to Spezia, Primavera coach Alberto De Rossi stated,

Nura, with his pace, has an incredible ability to disrupt the opponent’s attack, take the ball, and start the attack for his team. Sadiq, with his physicality, reminds me of a better Tallo (who also had big figures of 17 goals in 18 matches for the Primavera).

Already towering over his opponents at 6’1″/1.85m, Sadiq’s physical presence must bewilder opponents, yet he will have to develop more aspects to his game if he hopes to make Roma’s first team in the future. Just tonight, Džeko and il capitano went down with injury, leaving only Ezequiel Ponce for fit strikers. With more 4 goal games and dominant performances, then maybe, just maybe, we will see Sadiq get the nod this season. At the very least, Roma has a very prospective brotherhood in its ranks, with Sadiq and Nura on the up.

A House That Won’t Be Divided: La Curva Sud

The 2015/16 Serie A season began in Rome with protests from the Curva Sud. Rather, the single-entity that is the Curva Sud was pushed into protesting, as the city of Rome installed plexiglass barriers to divide the Curva, partitioning a body of one, into a divided set of arteries. The complications to choreograph, sing, wave banners and flags so typically accustomed to the stands, have sparked not only stadium protest from the ultras, but worldwide attraction and notice from Roma’s fan-communities. Fighting for the soul of the Olimpico, they in hope, if not demand, the reestablishing of Roma’s 12th man.

The ultras released an official communication, which was spread in several different languages:

“Dear AS Roma fans worldwide,

We write you because something terrible is happening to the Curva Sud of AS Roma. Police is destroying Curva Sud: chants, banners, flags are the past by now. We want to let you know that at the moment, if you should come here one day for a derby or some other match, you won’t find anything you expect because the Curva Sud has been conducted to silence. If you want to share the protest, please write in english to tifosi@asroma.it writing “We support Curva Sud, stop repression.” Thank you.”

Owner James Pallotta has declared his anger against the sanctions through Roma Radio: “The security measures? Roma have nothing to do with that, we’ve neither supported or demanded them. I’d ask fans to look at the model for the new stadium, the key part is the Sud.”

However, fans are calling for a stronger a statement, an official address against the city. Some fans believe the president has kept quiet due to a desire to weed out the ultras, and bring in a more gentrified fanbase; families and wealthy professionals, buying food, consuming the stadium amenities, and paying top dollar for a front row seat. All factors which would help Pallotta and co. receive a quicker return on investment. And Lazio’s owner, Lotito? They say he is only keeping his (big) mouth shut because he is at odds with his own fans.

In truth, it is not an ideal time for Jimmy to speak out against the city, as he vies for legislation to pass referendums for the new stadium at Tor di Valle. The new stadium will necessitate millions upon millions of euros for a new metro line, infrastructure, and other major investments and allowances by the city.

A Curva Sud regular who wishes to remain anonymous elaborates on the sentiment:

“Crack down on those hooligans who are responsible for violence, not the entire Curva; this is what we are advocating. It’s Pallotta’s silence we are protesting, when the government is doing everything they can to destroy our soul – Our Curva. A strong statement saying that this is imposed by the city and that the club is unhappy with it will be enough to calm the protesters issues with Jimmy and point their protest in the right direction, away from him. But while he remains silent, things will remain the same. The barrier won’t stop another shooting that happens a mile away from the Olimpico, so why separate brothers and friends inside. Step up your efforts on cracking down on fascists that might cause trouble (these are easily known on social media, as they like having their name out there), and leave those in the Curva alone to celebrate and chant their beloved club to victory.

This silence is doing nothing but breeding an air of betrayal amongst us fans, as the only ones that have the power to protest this officially are Jimmy and Co. They are opting to keep quiet, and it all feels as if our own management is an accomplice to this crime .

What’s sad is that before these barriers went, up before the security checks on 11 year olds at the Curva and the outrageous fines for not “sitting at your assigned seat,” there were no violent incidents inside the stadium, And what’s saddest of it all is that when this does happen fingers will be pointed at the ‘Barbarians’ in the Curva, when this could have easily been avoided with a few sensible, yet strong words from our owner to the mayor of Rome showing the fans our owner cares about them, and the essence of this team… Unless that violence is exactly what they want to prove their point once and for all, then go ahead with the Margaret Thatcher measures that killed any soul left in the EPL.

I for one, and this is what I wrote to the club,  attend about four matches a year, pay my flights and accommodation myself and I’m not rich, but until they fix this, I am not attending any games at the Olimpico – whatsoever.”

In addition, Roma Scudetto winner, Vincent Candela, came out yesterday and stated,

“They (councils) are doing everything they can to divide the fans, not only in the Curva. The Curva is a group, and they reason/make decisions all-together. I give my wishes that the fans return to the Curva, as the team needs them. In my time the Curva was decisive for Roma, at the beginning of the season, and helping us get through. When you know that the support is there with 60,000 people rather than 12,000, it makes such a psychological difference. It is strange that no player has spoken on the issue, as it is the fans who make us feel important. If not, then calcio is dead.”

From Roma Club Philadelphia, figurehead Gianluca Pugliese states,

“I think the Curva Sud is doing the appropriate thing with protesting against its division. For a lot of these fans, AS Roma is much more than a sports team. Instead, it’s a way of life, a perpetual love and the other side of a passionate relationship. Now that they can no longer express this through the Curva Sud, their distress and frustration is understandable. I hope this soon restores everything because it’s hard to watch games without the characteristic Curva Sud of AS Roma.”

Until the sanctions are lifted against the Curva Sud, you can expect them to keep singing on for their beloved wolf from outside the stadium. The Curva can never be divided.

The following is a catalogue of fan pictures and testimonials towards reclaiming the Curva Sud 

Indonesian Roma fan club above, protests outside the stadium below

The unfortunate reality of present day’s Curva

Roma fans below, protesting yet paying homage to Giuseppe “Peppone” De Vivo, figurehead of the Curva Sud, who recently passed away from terminal illness. Roma would beat Juve later that day

More fans from Indonesia rallying behind the Curva below

Above, Roma v. Barcelona in 2001, and then in 2015, last week

Below, more protests, as fans continue to sing and wave their flags outside the stadium

Panathinaikos supporting the Curva Sud

PanithanaikosCurva

In hope and belief of the magic once again

Salih Uçan: Now or Never

Roma headed into the hilly outskirts of Rome, towards the beautiful vacation town of Frosinone, just 11 days ago. A stadium backdrop enjoyed by emperors past and the wealthy of today, it seemed the sun was shining for the season debut of Salih Uçan; with Miralem Pjanić injured, Salih surely seemed the logical choice, in all faith towards Rudi Garcia’s 4-3-3.

Speculation boiled that week, would it be Salih, or would Totti be thrown into the playmaker role of a 4-2-3-1? On one hand, Frank would get some playing time under his belt; on the other, Salih would get some much needed playing time, and faith from the coach. After all, Salih hardly played last season, strangely nonetheless, due to what we have seen so far from him. This summer’s tour, he was one of the protagonists in the midfield’s creative role, so he would surely be getting some time within Roma’s first 5 matches, right? Right? Wrong. Rudi altered his cement tactics to a 4-2-3-1, and Salih would be riding the bench. As the game past 7pm, the sun was setting over the stadium, and a shadow consumed Salih Uçan’s hopes of getting a worthwhile run in the match. 2 matches since, and a heavily rotated squad post-Barcelona, the young Turk still hasn’t played.

Still just 21 years old, he is no secret back home in Turkey. A record transfer fee for a Turkish youth, Uçan joined Fenerbahçe for 1.4 million euros in the summer of 2012. Just 2 years later, our Walter Sabatini snapped him up, offering Fenerbahçe an offer they couldn’t refuse: 4 million euros for a 2 year loan, option to buy for 11 million euros at the end of this season (2015/16). He is a player Sabatini surely felt strong about, which shows that it can only be Rudi who is holding him at bay.

Atalanta and Bologna tried their best to take Salih away from Rome on loan this past summer, but Rudi denied it. Could Rudi be telling the truth, that Uçan was given limited playing time last season due to his recurring injuries? There is some truth to that, I do believe. In press conferences though, Uçan has been ambivalent when asked of his future. His tone is that of a player who isn’t being given confidence, or who feels beneficial to the squad. If he continues to impress in training and matches this season, then surely he should be rewarded with the match time and trust that he deserves. If he is given less, then Uçan could be another flipped investment on the ole belt of Walker Texas Sabatini Ranger. However, it is truly in Roma’s best interests to keep him in the capital. All the makings of playmaker in a 3-man midfield, and overall quality player, it’s Roma’s time to keep calm, and Salih Uçan.

Salih Uçan on Scoutnation.

Aces Wild: Alessandro Florenzi’s Growth & Transformation

When you turn Alessandro Florenzi’s card over, you will be unsure of what is revealed: A wing striker? Midfielder of three? Rightback? Right midfielder? What about a number ten? If you ask Florenzi, his humble response would most likely be, “Wherever the coach needs me.” That would be typical Ale for you, always at the disposal of his coach and team.

A protagonist of Roma’s primavera in the 2010/11 season, Ale was then sent to Crotone on loan. Playing as an advanced midfielder, he donned the number ten shirt. 11 goals in 35 appearances saw him awarded as the Serie B young player of the season, guiding Crotone to a respectable finish.

A return to Roma was meant to be, and for the 2012/13 season, Florenzi would become a young protagonist. Now just 21 years of age, coach Zdenêk Zeman utilized Florenzi’s skills to their potential. Growing under the miserly tactician, Ale excelled as a midfielder of three, running box-to-box, like a colt developing into a full grown thoroughbred. 3 goals in 36  appearances did not speak volumes, but a 21 year old getting 36 starts for the capital club is.

The 2013/14 season was premiered by the arrival of former French Ligue 1 champion coach, Rudi Garcia. Rudi’s 4-3-3 shocked all of Serie A, as Roma tied a club record of 10 wins in a row, and a staggering statistic of 25 goals scored and just 2 conceded in their push. Florenzi’s role was changed yet again, now as a right winger, or mezzala. It looked to be a perfect fit as his sprints combined with Totti’s brilliant passes down the right; the Inter-Roma match immediately comes to mind, where Roma scored 4 before the half, led by Totti and Florenzi’s dominance. 37 matches would be good enough for 6 goals and 7 assists in Serie A; quite a feat for a player in a brand spanking new position.

Would 2014/15 provide Florenzi with consistency in his position? No. Sabatini’s major target of the preceding summer was an Argentine who came under international spotlight, thanks to his darting, full field runs to goal for Hellas Verona. Just when it seemed our capitano futuro futuro would be cemented into the starting 11, his position was compromised yet again. For the entire season, the conversation pervaded throughout Roman radio and international forums: What was Florenzi’s best position? Would he be a part of Rudi’s plans again? Would a future senator of Rome become just a fringe player?

Ale took his destiny into his own hands this summer. Used as an emergency wingback during Maicon’s long term injury, Ale enjoyed success in his forward play, but had lots to learn in defense. And who could blame him? A player who began his career as an attacking midfielder, then deployed as a box-to-box midfielder, to a wing forward, and now to a back four? Preposterous. Seemingly. Not for Ale though; his determination, time spent reviewing film, extra field time dedicated to studying defensive movement has seen him grown steadily in just half a year.

A defensively shaky first-half performance saw Hellas Verona targeting Roma (and Florenzi’s) right flank in the first match of the 2015/16 season. Yet it was Ale who provided Roma with the salvage point, scoring a wild strike from the wing. In just 45 minutes, it was evident that his confidence had grown, and he put in a much stronger second half. He was coming into his own.

Home to Juventus would be a horse of a different color. The defending champions had no lack of speed, and new boy Paulo Dybala posed enough of a threat to keep any wingback busy on such a summer’s night. Yet, Serie A pundits gazed on, and Ale put in a world class shift, giving Juve little outlet on his flank. The spoils stayed in Rome, with a sack full of Juventus heads. The heatmap below tells a shocking story: Florenzi’s presence (left diagram) was felt in the majority of Juve’s centerhalf, yet Pogba, Evra, and Dybala (the three were collectively selected for the right diagram) could barely penetrate into Roma’s final third.

Days before Roma faced off against reigning Champions League champs Barcelona, the squad had to get through local side, Frosinone. Florenzi shown yet again, striking the post, making 4 tackles, and receiving WhoScored.com’s Man of the Match award.

This past Wednesday, the 16th of September was the greatest test yet for our Jack of All Trades. With Jordi Alba, Neymar, and oh yeah, Lionel Messi in town, Florenzi had his work cut out for him. 70% possession would not be enough to upset Roma’s shape and Florenzi’s flank though. The compact shape of the midfield and defense helped keep Ale with explicit defensive responsibilities, left to no confusion: close space down inside the box, try to provide Salah with a break. After Barca took a 0-1 lead through a Messi foul and offside call blundered by the referee, the tifosi kept spurring on their fighting wolves, hoping for a bit of la magica. 

La Magica is exactly what the Stadio Olimpico, Italy, and the world received in the 31st minute: Florenzi released his foot from half field on the right side, sending a guided missile towards goal. When it struck down into the net, the disbelief and shock could be felt all the way here to New Jersey, the islands of Indonesia, and back, engraining the moment just as the ruins of Ancient Rome continue to echo in eternity. It was a hope, it was a prayer, it was a miracle; Roma tied the Champions League crownees, and Florenzi’s dominance at rightback helped Roma achieve a monumental 1-1 scoreline. 3 tackles, and yet another Man of the Match award from Whoscored.com.

Florenzi’s development is truly remarkable, and there is no doubt that his perseverance and ability can see him as one of the best rightbacks in the game. Wondergoals, bombing down the pitch, and the learned skill of defensive awareness, Florenzi will keep growing as a player, and cementing his place as one of the top players to have donned giallorosso. Here is to you, capitano futuro futuro. Nonna is very proud.

A Romanista Graced by God on September 11th

Today, on the 14th year anniversary of the September 11th, 2001 attacks, I came across a very special, blessed story of a man, and Roma tifoso. The following words are from Anthony Zomparelli, on the truly incredible story of his miracle on that tragic day:

“It is an absolute honor and privilege to share this story with all the tifosi of our beloved giallorossi.

AS Roma has been a major part of my life ever since I was a young child. My parents are Italian immigrants, and when my father came to the United States in 1970, he brought his love of Roma with him. Of course, as every young boy does, I became a fan of my father’s favorite team. The opening theme music for the soccer program “90 Minuto” has been cemented in my mind since childhood. I grew up with the stories of Bruno Conti, Falcao, and the Championship season of 1983. I heard of the heartache in the 1984 Champion’s Cup final against Liverpool. And of course, I lived through “dark ages” of the 1990s as Roma failed to contend for the beloved Scudetto, although Giannini was a grand captain who deserved so much more. But through it all, I have always been a proud supporter of Roma, the team of my heart, the team of which I love. And without question, the one player who has really had an impact on me is Francesco Totti. He is a Roman and a true Romanista, the symbol of Rome and of Roma. I have followed his progression in Serie A ever since he was 16, and since we are so close in age I immediately felt a connection towards him. Following Totti’s outstanding performance in the 2000 European Championship, I entered the 2001 Serie A season with great expectations for Roma. The great reward of finally regaining the Scudetto after 18 long years was an absolute highpoint in my life. I will never forget the joy and tears I shared with my father and brother on Roma’s 2001 Championship victory. Ironically, in the 3-1 win over Parma, my favorite player, Totti, scored, as did my father’s player, Montella, and also my brother’s favorite player, Batistuta. The glory of that win will remain with me always and I thank God I was able to see Roma win the Italian championship.

With my little history out of the way, here is my story. I was an accounting consultant for Marsh & McLennan for over 13 yeras, which was located in the World Trade Center. I worked on the 100th floor of Tower One. On the morning of September 11, 2001, I called my office and said I would not be able to attend work due to an illness. However, the truth was that I was not sick at all. I wanted to be home to watch the Roma – Real Madrid UEFA Champions League game on television. This was a truly monumental game to me for many reasons: 1) it was Roma’s first appearance in this new Champions League format, 2) Roma were “i campioni d’Italia”, 3) Roma were facing the storied team of Real Madrid in Stadio Olimpico, and most importantly 4) the game was to be televised live on ESPN, which is truly special because Roma are never on U.S. television stations.

Unfortunately, what was to be a great day for me turned out to be a complete nightmare. We all know what happened in New York City that day, so there is no need to repeat the details. On September 11th, my company lost 291 employees, 10 of which were very good friends of mine. These people were not just my colleagues, they were a second family to me and no matter where I go in this life, they will always be in my heart. I am eternally grateful that I did not attend work that day. And I will forever be grateful to God and AS Roma for being the reasons I am still alive and well. When I heard that Roma would be coming to New York to play Real Madrid on August 8, 2002 in an exhibition game, it felt like Roma had won the Scudetto all over again. I purchased 6 midfield tickets to the match and was as excited as a child would be waiting for a gift at Christmas time. I would finally get to see my heroes in yellow and red!!! What I did not know was that a friend of my father’s usually drives Serie A players around the New York area whenever they visit the United States. He drove the Roma players around the city and visted the Empire State Building and Ground Zero (where the World Trade Center once stood). Upon visiting Ground Zero, my father’s friend mentioned my story of how I had missed the tragedy to watch the game on television. According to him, the players were stunned. He says that Batistuta and Tommasi asked if a meeting between myself and the team could be arranged. When I heard the news, I was stunned myself!!! I was so happy that such great superstars and champions found it in their hearts to want to meet me. I went to the Sheridan New York Hotel on the morning of August 7th to meet the team I have loved my entire life. I was able to meet with Batistuta, Tommasi, Candela, Emerson, Samuel, Panucci, Antonioli, Pelizzoli, Bombardini, Cassano, and Capello. Unfortunately, Totti had injured his left knee and could not make the trip to New York. I had only a few minutes with them due to their hectic practice schedule, but I will cherish those moments my entire life. I was able to get autographs and take some pictures with them as well.

Meeting Roma was the greatest experience of my life, but I had no idea how much media attention I would receive because of it. I was interviewed by the Roma Channel and I was told by family members in Italy who watched it, that it aired during halftime of the Roma – Real Madrid exhibition match on August 8th. I was also interviewed and featured in many newspapers. My story was printed in Corriere Dello Sport – Stadio, La Gazzetta Dello Sport, Il Tempo, Il Messaggero, and La Provincia. But I am most proud of being interviewed by Stream TV for Italian television. The Stream crew were kind enough to fly from Rome to New York to visit me at my home for an exclusive interview. I was able to share my feelings on the WTC tragedy to all my family and friends in Italy and express my thanks to the Roma team. The television crew also gave me an autographed jersey from Vincenzo Montella. He wrote, “Per un grande tifoso, Tony, Ciao! Vincenzo Montella #9.” The fact that Montella took time out of his personal life to send me is best wishes is something truly special to me and he will always have a special place in my heart. Grazie L’Aeroplanino!!! The Steam crew also promised me that whenever I visit Rome, front row seats to a Roma game will be waiting for me. I can only imagine what it would be like to sit in the Stadio Olimpico and watch Totti lead Roma onto the field. I simply cannot wait to get there!!!!

On this anniversary of the World Trade Center Tragedy, all I can say to all of you around the world is to live life to the fullest. Life as though there is no tomorrow, live life without regret. Embrace your loved ones and enjoy all that makes you happy. I am thankful that I have my family, friends, and my precious Roma, which will always make me happy and proud, in winning or losing. As the song by Antonello Venditti goes….”Grazie Roma!!!!!”

Anthony Zomparelli continues to work in Manhattan, now across the street from the new World Trade Center buildings. You can find Roma Channel’s story on him here.  There are countless stories I could personally tell you, and that thousands of people affected by the attacks could tell you. Anthony’s story is truly one of the most miraculous.

Eyes on Verde, Frosinone-Roma 12/9/2015

Frosinone are the type of team that Serie A became notorious for: parking the bus, catenaccio, stuff it in the back and hope we get lucky type. At least, that is what most Serie A spectators would be expecting. In reality, Roberto Stellone’s Frosinone side is a modern, full football fighting squad. In fact, Frosinone’s first match of the season saw them take the lead over upper middleweights Torino, only to lose 2-1 later on.

Before the season commenced Stellone warned the other Serie A teams: “I told my lads to relax and face the game the same way they did last year. Frosinone will make everyone suffer and we’ll always attack, especially at the Comunale, where our fans can give us that extra push…I promise Frosinone will take on every opponent with open football, hunger and determination. The attitude will always be the same”

The second week’s loss against Atalanta was also a strong effort, with heat maps showing Frosinone trying to press high and occupy the middle of the pitch. Regardless of the 0-2 that day, the first two weeks of the season proved that Stellone’s side would definitely not be going down without a fight.

With two losses in hand, Stellone is now forced to dare a bit more with his choices (#DaretoZlatan). While coming up against a true heavyweight in our Lupetta, he does have a secret weapon, one used only marginally in the season’s first two matches, yet was a one-man powerhouse in preseason. He comes in a small but sturdy package, all the way from Naples, yet made in Roma. His name is Daniele Verde.

Daniele Verde shone in 2014/15, achieving his first Serie A start. More importantly, it was his drive and determination that helped lift Roma when it needed, with a spitfire performance against Cagliari. His 2 assists split the islanders’ defense, and earned the title as Man of the Match. He would play only 4 more performances last season, and just 95 more total minutes.

If Stellone dares just a bit more and gives Daniele the trust he needs, he could have a very threatening fantasista on his hands. When Roma faces off against Frosinone this Saturday, we will all be awaiting his face, either from the starting gate, or at least a substitution role. Early signs point to Daniele as a centerpiece in the Italian attack for years to come, and it will be up to his volition if he feeds upon his ability, and becomes the star we saw in giallo e rosso just 6 months ago. Just as we hope in his maturity and return to Rome, we also hope that he does well to impress his true home team. Just not too good this Saturday Daniele. 

A.S. Roma Clubs & Romanisti Around The World

This article is intended to bring together Romanisti from around the world, who are figureheads and contributors to their respective Roma club. I asked the participants to respond to three questions: 1) Info on their Roma club and their contributions to Roma, 2) If they were ever able to see an international Roma tour, and 3) Who was the greatest signing for this mercato, and who would surprise us?
It was fantastic to hear from all the following participants, and please enjoy the following:

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Gianluca Pugliese, Roma Club Philadelphia

“I am part of Roma Club Philadelphia (Gianluca is being modest, he helped establish the club), and I saw Roma play in America on two separate tours. The first was the summer of 2012 when Roma had a friendly against El Salvador in Redbull Arena. It was the first time I saw Totti live and was fortunate to see the team win. The second occasion came in the summer of 2014 when Roma was taking part of the Guinness International Cup. I saw them play against Inter at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia. The day before, I was waiting around their hotel and was fortunate enough to be there when they came back from training. I had the pleasure of meeting some of the players, Garcia, Pallotta and even Zanzi. The next morning, Roma Club Philadelphia hosted a grand tailgate that attracted Roma fans from all over the county and it was an honor to meet all of them. Despite the loss, this was probably the best weekend of my lifeEven though it is hard to pick a favorite new signing after just 2 games, I think the player I am most excited for is Dzeko. Rumors of buying him have been lingering around for over a year now and to have lastly finalized the deal this summer felt like a huge sigh of relief. He played well in the short preseason he had with the team and what is better than making your debut goal against Juventus? I am looking forward to see what more he has to offer, especially with players like Salah and Falque on his sides. I think the player that will most surprise us is Szczcesny. It seemed like when word first got out of his signing, many fans were quick to judge Sabatini’s actions for signing a player who seemed to have had a questionable reputation at Arsenal. However, I think thus far, Szczcesny has been great, on and off the field. He has made some phenomenal saves and seems to be gluing well with his defense. On top of that, he has shown to be mature, professional and motivated to win with Roma.”

Roma Club Philadelphia’s major tailgate before Roma v. Inter in Philadelphia, August 2014.

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Alessio Ambrosetti, Austin ASRoma Fan Club

” I am the President of the Austin ASRoma Fan Club. I followed the team around in my Roma wrapped jeep with my family last summer in Denver, Dallas, and Philadelphia. It was an amazing experience and I am glad they’re coming to the US a lot more now. I think the player I was more intrigued about was Szczesny simply because it was weird to me that the number 1 keeper for Arsenal would chose to leave the EPL for Serie A. It has proved to be an amazing buy and most of my Arsenal friends were sad to see him leave. I think we will be surprised by Falque. He is a very dynamic winger, not like Gervinho. So let’s keep an eye out on him.”

Check out Roma’s official videos following Alessio’s journey here. They’re fantastic.

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Jos Recine, Roma Club Montreal
“I am the president & founder of Roma Club Montreal. I haven’t attended any North American Tour Im usually in Italy at that time, I bring Canadian soccer players for trials and one of our working partners is Bruno Conti, Director of youth development of A.S. Roma. Dzeko is the addition adding height for set pieces and big enough to play back against the net to hold the ball for our great midfielders to come in… I believe the big surprise and who will have great season is Lucas  Digne.”
 
Jos pictured with Bruno Conti at Trigoria
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Camillo, Roma Club Sydney
“I belong to the Roma Club Sydney in Australia. I am the president of the club. We are a young club but the first official club in Oceania. Roma games have only just begun to be televised in Australia this year, so we have had our share or troubles following them. However, this love knows no boundaries and it hasn’t hindered us.
I saw Roma play in Melbourne. I travelled with a few others from the roma club Sydney and watched both their games against Real Madrid and Manchester city. They weren’t the most exciting games, but it was very early times in the pre season preparation. I think the team still had to find some form at the time. It was still amazing to watch them. It was my first time ever watching them in person and I was lucky enough to be invited along with some of the Melbourne Roma clubs to watch the team train as well.
My favourite addition this transfer market is by far Edin Dzeko. Its been a long time since we’ve had the privilege of a striker of that calibre playing for us. I think a less notable signing that will surprise us is Iago Falque. He was impressive in Melbourne and was amazing against Juventus. I think he will be key for us this season.”
RomaClubSydneyinMelbourne
Roma Club Sydney members on tour to watch Roma in Melbourne, Australia
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 Stefano, Roma Club Ireland
“August 1st, 2014 marks the birth of the first and only AS Roma Club in Ireland based in Dublin. The idea was to bring together all the Roma supporters here in Ireland – Romans, Italians and Irish, all under one roof. I am the founder and President of the Club. In only a few weeks were able to bring our fans and banners to the the Etihad Stadium in Manchester City, Allianz Arena in Munich and Rotterdam. We have also taken our fans to the Stadio Olimpico for the most important games last year. This year, we will also be going to Barcelona and Leverkusen. The greatest signing of the market is Gerson, and the one to surprise us most will be Iago Falque.”
Roma Club Ireland pictured outside the Olimpico.
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 Marcus Ranney, Roma Club Washington DC
“Roma Club Washington DC, which was founded in February of 2014. The Club meets for every game at Ireland’s Four Courts in Arlington, VA and is currently comprised of over 50 members. Throughout the season the Club and its sponsors (Four Courts and Byford Realty) host brunch, pool, and raffle events to try to bring together the District Roma Community. Our most widely used hashtag for all event notifications is . The Club has a great working relationship with other clubs, such as Roma Club Philadelphia, New York, and Boston and is globally recognized by the Unione Tifosi Romanisti (UTR). Roma Club Philadelphia’s tailgate in 2014 allowed the CurvaDC to network with other Roma Clubs along the east coast.
The best addition to the mercato was undoubtedly Edin Dzeko, a proven talent in the premiere league, and the exact player Roma has been looking for in the past 5 seasons. His size, strength and technical ability will allow Roma to attack with another dimension and more importantly add the aerial threat. The less notable that will provide value will be Iago Falque. The attacking winger was extremely dangerous for Genoa last season and has already shown his worth in providing Edin Dzeko with the game winning assist against Juventus. The other “big transfer” move that people should not overlook is the retention of various players for the coming season. Naingolan, Pjanic, and Manolas are all three starters that were rumored at times to be out the door. Radja in particular provides the grit and character that will make Roma one of the toughest midfield threats in Europe.
Roma Club D.C. outside their restaurant venue for Roma v. Juve last week!
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Giovanni Peluso, The Roma Club NY, & Personally
The Roma Club NY began in 2008 under the leadership of Giovanni Peluso. I was able to get a couple words from him: “Roma Club NY now has over 400 members, and our section is represented at the Olimpico with our banner. We have been a member of UTR since the club was founded, and we now present all matches possible at Bar Basso in Manhattan (by Columbus Circle). The best signings of the mercato are Dzeko, Digne, and Szczesny.”
Personally as a member of The Roma Club NY, I have greatly enjoyed my experience in being part of the community. Regardless of not being born in Rome or Roman, I was always made to feel comfortable, and I continue to attend. Last year, The Roma Club NY hosted a fantastic Christmas party, with a raffle where signed memorabilia and special Roma products were awarded to the winners and highest bidders. If you are interested in coming to watch a match and have a panino, contact RomaclubNewYork.org, or give me a shout on Twitter of Facebook. This video was shot at the conclusion of last May’s derby win at the Roma Club NY.
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Summer 15′ Mercato Review

The following is a review of A.S. Roma players coming and going. There are many fresh faces, and many missing faces. The deals are rated on a 1-10 scale.

Out

Adem Ljajić: A very confusing move, not typical of Walter. For just 1.75 million euros for the loan and an option to buy for 11 million, Roma have in fact lost money on the player, and strengthen a rival. Played out of position for the entirety of his career in Rome, Adem still managed to put up strong numbers, and was a good compliment to the attack. 20% of the sale heads back to Fiorentina, meaning Roma will actually lose about 1 million euros when considering the company payed roughly 14 million for him 3 years ago. Although it is preferable that Inter has Ljajić on their wing rather than Perotti or Eder, the deal still strengthens a rival. A poor deal. 2/10.

Ashley Cole: This August 14th, it was thought that Cole terminated his contract, with a year remaining. He may have gotten word from Saba that Roma was “moving in a different direction,” and/or saw other opportunities for playing time (and cash) back in England, or in the MLS. Cole, regarded as one of the best players of his generation, never really hit it off with Roma; a victim of Arjen Robben’s opener in the 1-7 thrashing against Bayern, and a couple lost steps over the years. He will eventually terminate his contract with the club based on mutual consent. N/R

Alessio Romagnoli: “Young, future defender of Italy, filled with potential; the next captain of Roma.” Or, “overrated defender, people just love him because he is Roman. Sabatini made out like a fox; 25 million euros? Perfect.” There are two sides of the argument, but the undeniable is that Alessio is in fact a Laziale. That is just about everything when considering who the next captain will be. Alessio never showed an insatiable desire to stay, unlike DDR, Totti, and Florenzi. In my opinion, he will become a B+ player, but doesn’t have the tenacity, toughness, or athleticism to break into the top echelon. I’m grading this transfer a 9/10,

Mattia Destro: “Will you just leave already Mattia?” The common phrase heard among Romanisti. Well, he is gone now, for 1m euros on the loan and 9m obligation to buy. Bologna have a forward who can keep them afloat, Destro will have playing time ahead of the Euro 2016, but most importantly, he is off Roma’s books. 10m back to the bank, for a total loss of -6m, due to Destro’s initial transfer fee of 16m when Roma purchased him from Genoa. Not entirely Sabatini’s fault, as most expected Destro to keep growing, rather than regress. 7/10.

Jose Holebas: Bought for 1.5m euros, and sold for 2.75m. A transfer which Jose seemingly knew nothing about until he was sold, this was a confusing one; why sell a cheap option, that covers depth? I don’t understand this one, other than Saba not looking to waste time, and would rather get someone younger in and start his growth process at Roma. A strange transfer, but the replacing him with an unproven wingback in Emerson does not further the depth strength. 5/10,

Seydou Doumbia: A loan back to CSKA Moscow, then a transfer to China for exactly what Roma paid for him. A rushed transfer in January, Seydou struggled to find form, and seemed a shadow of his former self. A hole Sabatini dug himself into, which he miraculously climbed out of. Thank heavens for that Chinese money. Would be a 10/10, but Sabatini dug himself into this one; 8/10.

Gianluca Curci: He has transferred to Mainz. It was thought he could’ve been kept around for the homegrown quota, but oh well. Nothing taken, nothing lost. N/A.

Federico Viviani: 4m euros saw Fede transferred to Hellas Verona. Another Romanista many thought would break into the squad and be De Rossi’s heir, has become just another pawn for the club. Is that a bad thing? Not necessarily. Vivani evolved from a defensive midfielder into a more true center midfielder, and for that, Roma is just too well-equipped. To say that Viviani is better than Salih Ucan would be false, and although he could have played a role in the club for the future, Roma will continue to point to higher quality players. A modest fee for a player without a true season in Serie A, and an excess for Roma. A deal with minimal effect. 5/10.

Andrea Bertolacci: Now this one, this one stung. The only thing that took the venom out of this deal was the 20m euros A.C. Milan paid for him. He came off a fantastic season for Genoa, and a great few years with them; many thought he would become Miralem’s replacement, others like me thought he would become a great player to add into the quality of the midfield, and contend with Miralem for the creator spot. Sabatini though, chose the cash, allocating the cash where it was needed more. Just for the record, Andrea is a life-long A.C. Milan fan. 8/10.

Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa: Mapou would typically play a great match, marred by a blunder or two. This lapse of concentration is what made Sabatini accept his transfer to Lyon. The derby hero was sold for 9.5m euros, with Roma making 1.5m off the deal, after the 8m euro obligatory purchase. 7/10.

 

In

Iago Falque: Roma’s earliest acquisition of the mercato surprised most, but in truth, Iago will be a good purchase. The Spaniard has been a vagabond during his career, at Barcelona, Madrid, Tottenham, and Genoa. Still just 25, he will enter his prime in Rome and could be our Lavezzi. Clinical, sufficient at supplying the forward, and quick around the box, Iago will surprise many this season. 8/10.

Radja Nainggolan: There was a rush of anxiety throughout this deal, as Cagliari pressed Roma against the fence, and Juve were poking their heads in. As co-ownership ended, Roma needed to make a move, and finalized for 9m euros. N/A.

Victor Ibarbo: A loan to Watford, considered surplus to the bench. Roma will have option to buy him at season’s end, and could make a profit if they were to flip. N/A.

Mohamed Salah: A wild deal, full of legal discrepancy between Chelsea, Fiorentina, and Salah. Inter entered the frame in July, then being accused of an illegal approach by Fiorentina’s management. Fiorentina was probably correct in that matter. The legal issues will continue between Chelsea and Fiorentina, but Mo is a Roma player. A loan of 5m euros, with option to buy for a further 17m, this is the winger Roma has so sorely needed; dynamic, relentless, creative, and acute. 8/10.

Edin Džeko: 4m for the loan, 11m euros to exercise the option to buy. In his first match at Roma’s Opening Day v. Sevilla, he scored in the third minute. He opened his Serie A account in the massive win over Juve in front of the Curva Sud, with what would become the winning goal. A rockstar, for a rockstar deal and price. 10/10.

Antonio Rüdiger: The young German international is regarded as one of the top centerback prospects, yet is coming off a serious knee injury. The 11m euros could go two ways: Antonio becomes the next big thing and regains his fitness, or has a career plagued by injuries, debilitating his success. A gamble Saba felt worth taking. 7/10.

Lucas Digne: At 17 years of age, Lucas was given a starting place in Rudi Garcia’s championship winning Lille side. With the young man now rejoining his mentor, Lucas could develop into a premier leftback. One of the world’s hottest LB prospects when joining PSG, his value slipped due to inconsistent playing time behind Maxwell. Roma will pay 2.5 million euros for the loan, and will have the option to purchase him at season’s end, for a fee believed to be about 11 million euros.  A fantastic start in the win over Juve immediately made him a fan favorite. 10/10.

Norbert Gyömbér: A mystery really, I would be lying if I said I knew lots about him. However, the 23 year old is a Slovakian international. Saba believes he will be a good choice for 4th CB, and I suppose all we can really do is trust him. There aren’t any Youtube videos on him either, so I can’t pretend like I know what I’m talking about here. N/A.

William Vainqueur: Arriving from Dynamo Moscow, the former French-U21 international was one of the most dominating midfielders in the Belgian League. 26 years old, he will be entering his prime, and should make decent depth while Kevin Strootman attempts to retake the field some time in the latter half of the season. He had an 88% pass completion rate last season in Russia, and we will surely see him take the field for the Coppa, and in substitution roles. We were expecting someone a bit more renowned, but it seems Rudi Garcia had his eye on the Frenchman. 6/10.

Wojciech Szczesny: The man who saved the match against Juventus, the Polish Jungle Cat. No one may call him that, but it doesn’t hurt trying to start a trend. A rating for the top-notch goalie cannot be justified because figures for the deal were not made public. It is not even clear if whether or not there is an option to buy Szczesny. N/A.

Ezequiel Ponce: 4.2 million euros for the services of the youngest player to score a goal in the Argentinian top flight. On a 5 year contract, Ponce is just 18 years old and is renowned as one of the world’s best attacking talents. Still raw to the highest leagues of Europe, we will not know what to expect until further review. N/A.

 

Once more info is released, ratings could be adjusted. But as of September 1st, 2015, this mercato gets a 7.

 

 

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