The Chinese economy has done something wonderous – or, is it absurd – for world football. Players who were being paid three million six months ago, now find their salaries quadrupled, if not more with offers from Shangai, Gangzhou Evergrande, and other imperial clubs within China’s mainland.
In Italy alone, we have seen the Chinese Yen come to the rescue of the debt-riddled and managerially-failing Milan clubs. Following Silvio Berlusconi’s headaches (too much Bunga-Bunga) and Massimo Moratti’s “modest” bank accounts, the Chinese have offered lifelines to the stripes in Lombardi.
In irony’s truest form, now the Chinese ownerships have declared their intent to transform the teams into young Italian powerhouses – the new shining stars, le stelle of Italia. Yes, that’s right, after Inter’s literal foundations in being the international club of Italy, for foreign players, the emphasis has now shifted to the owners proclaiming their love and mission to make the team Italian. Milan’s Mr. Bee, or whoever it is now, has attested to just the same. Try to wrap your head around that one.
This got me to thinking, was it really important that Roma had an Italian identity? I tweeted after the Genoa-Roma match that it wasn’t important, that I’d rather sign the Lithuanian national team if it meant a Scudetto for Roma. But, that’s not entirely true, and I apologize.
After a long thought, I considered… What does it matter if a young player from Piedmont, Torino, or Modena comes to play for Roma? That somehow their Italian pride will make them a better player when playing for their nation’s capital? It’s a stretch.
What’s more important is that the player is a product of Rome – manufactured from the Primavera and/or the inferno that is the Eternal Capital. One who understands the ambiance, the attitudes, the pressures, and maybe most importantly, the expectations.
Further, Romans are not like other Italians – they see themselves as Romans first, then Italians, as “Frank” is famously quoted as saying.
But what is important, and what is crucial to the team’s essence, and to the missing tifosi, is that there is Roman blood within the squad.
It’s impossible to think of a Roma without the Bandiere – the true leaders, those who sacrifice greater successes and riches for the sake of their city and their team. Do I have to say it? TottiDeRossiFlorenzi. One word.
In terms of nurturing the next Bandiere, the “Go on loan and figure it out” policy has really been a thorn in Roma’s side. In fact, it has almost always failed.
Amato Ciciretti, who was supposed to be “The next Totti” went on loan for a couple years, was released by the club, and is now being scouted by Napoli. Marco D’Alessandro is becoming a useful piece at Atalanta. Lorenzo Pellegrini is growing exponentially at Sassuolo (thank God for the buyback), Gianluca Caprari was bought by Inter, Federico Viviani and Valerio Verre both showed signs of promise following their Primavera-championship-winning-years, Elio Capradossi is lost somewhere in Bari, trying to find his way. The list goes on.
A solution to this catastrophe of Roman talent is to make a “B Team,” like there is in Spain. But lets stay on task here.
The Primavera squad right now, still led by Alberto De Rossi, just keeps marching to success. They just conquered Inter 1-0 to speed to the semifinals of the Coppa Italia.
The Giallorossi will continue to risk losing their young treasures if smart loans are not made, to competent and fostering clubs which nurture Roma’s boys. But that’s a lot to ask for as well.
Marco Tumminello is another one of these – a Stefano Okaka Chuka, a Sadiq Umar. The next big striker who is supposed to lead Roma for years to come. It’s crucial that Roma does everything they can to provide the best environment for his development – either by training with the first-team and slow introduction, or on-loan at a healthy club with option to repurchase.
With this Roman identity strengthened – this Romanità – the club will reestablish itself as more than just a team. It is Rome, and if we keep the emphasis on coveting players from the system as strong as the flow of the Tiber, we can be assured of pride and victory to come.