The Rebuild of Roma and Their Place In the New Serie A Order

The tale of the 2019-20 Serie A season was intriguing, to say the least. Juventus were crowned champions for the umpteenth time but the margins have slimmed.

Juve had secured the Scudetto by Round 36 but Inter managed to claw back their lead to a single point. Lazio and Atalanta were a further four points behind. That makes up for an exciting reading and it was.

Both Lazio and Atalanta entertained their fan base. Lazio even led the points table at one stage. Both sides usurped Inter on the points table, only for the Nerazzurri to come roaring back. It is in this backdrop that one can understand Antonio Conte’s frustrations.

These top-four will likely battle again next year. It will be interesting to see Juventus under Andrea Pirlo. Both Gian Piero Gasperini and Simeone Inzaghi will tweak their respective sides. Antonio Conte might even have Lionel Messi in his ranks to give the Old Lady a run for its money.

That makes one wonder where does Roma see themselves? The Giallorossi were runner-ups in the 2016-17 season and have been falling in the Serie A title race ever since. Roma improved on their sixth-place finish in 2018-19 with a fifth place in the recently concluded campaign.

While the top four were separated by five points, Roma were a further eight points behind the Champions League slots. Coach Paulo Fonseca had a tough task on his hands as it is, and the takeover of Friedkin Group will add more pressure. The targets will surely change and a Champions League slot should be in their cross-hairs.

On 11 June 2019, Paulo Fonseca was appointed as manager of Roma

If Roma are to continue on their path as always, it looks difficult for them to break into the top four. The other teams have settled squads and only need minor tweaks. On the other hand, the Giallorossi need to rejuvenate their aging squad.

Edin Dzeko has been a loyal servant to the club but he will be pushing 35 come to the final rounds of next season. The backbone of this squad is made up of players pushing 30 and above. Javier Pastore, Aleksander Kolarov, Federico Fazio, Diego Perotti, Henrikh Mkhitaryan, and Nikola Kalinic all tip the wrong end of the age scale.

Of those under 30, few can be called genuine stars apart from Lorenzo Pellegrini, Nicolò Zaniolo, and Cengiz Under. Justin Kluivert has yet to impress on a regular basis, and the rest of the roster are making up numbers without adding much value. That is why Roma succumbed to the likes of Udinese, Bologna, and Torino at home during the past season.

The permanent signings of Gianluca Mancini and Jordan Veertout were handy additions, as they both have a high ceiling for improvement. They are shrewd purchases that will help the club making bank if they realize their potential. Moreover, they come to reinforce some areas where Roma needed strength after many injuries that derailed them in January and February.

Jordan Veretout celebrates with team mates Nicolo Zaniolo and Leonardo Spinazzola

However, the Giallorossi still have some issues in attack and need a central defender. Roma need a center-forward and a left-winger. Dzeko provided 16 goals but whether he will be able to successfully deliver for the whole season is a question that needs to be asked.

On the wings, Pedro’s arrival can be a solution as his experience will be useful. Still, his signing won’t fully solve the problem as he is not the player that he was at Barcelona anymore. Pedro struggled in his last couple of years at Stamford Bridge and expecting him to be prolific at his age is counterproductive. Carles Perez is another shrewd purchase, but expecting too much from him after sitting on Barcelona’s bench for far too long would also be wrong.

On 25 August 2020, Roma announced the signing of Pedro on a three-year contract

Then there is the purchase of Chris Smalling from Manchester United. The defender gave a good account of himself but was caught napping when he came up against much faster rivals. Pairing him alongside Mancini is a double whammy, both are positionally competent but slow to react.

With the error-prone Pau Lopez as their last line of defense, Roma are bound to suffer. The club are looking at options between the sticks but it will be more of the same. It will be a gamble on an upcoming player who can be later sold for profit. This has been the trend at Roma for far too long and it is not going to take them back into the top four reckonings.

Over the past few years, Roma have been buying players with talent, and by the time they can add value to the squad. With help from their new billionaire owners, Roma can push the envelope a little bit further. There are players who would like to ply their trade in the Eternal City. The only question is, will they change their mentality and make that push.