Player Analysis: The Hunt for Verona’s Marash Kumbulla Is On!

According to several reports, eternal capital foes Roma and Lazio are eager to sign Verona’s Marash Kumbulla. The 20-year-old Italian-Albanian is surely one to watch out for.

Kumbulla might not be a household name yet but the youngster is quietly going about his business, developing at a great pace and showing just why he is discreetly being watched by Europe’s elite.

The youngster impressed for Hellas Verona during the 2020-21 campaign. Last season, it was expected that the Gialloblu would struggle to survive but they ended up finishing eighth in the Serie A table.

This was a memorable campaign for Verona and their coach Ivan Juric from a defensive perspective. It is not easy to score against Verona, who conceded the fewest goals in the league after the top three in the standings. And the young Albanian born Italian international played a big role in that.

According to multiple reports, Verona are already bracing for life without their young defender whose departure would help fill the club’s coffers (25M euros is the figure that has been touted).

Reportedly, both Roma and Lazio are eager to sign the highly-rated defender so we could see a small scuffle for his signature. So what is it that has made the youngster one of the most wanted players in Italy?

Well, to begin with, Kumbulla fits in perfectly at Verona, thanks to Juric’s willingness to give the club’s academy graduate a fair chance. The youngster’s defensive style compliments Verona’s aggressive man-marking style. Verona are a very intense defensive side and Kumbulla settled in nicely in a three-man defense.

Blessed with a great physique and excellent anticipation, the youngster thrives in one-on-one situations and doesn’t mind getting closer to the center circle in order to snuff out chances before they create complications in defense.

If we look at this Wyscout report, it is clear that Kumbulla is phenomenal at winning duels in his own penalty area.

As this image shows, Kumbulla is very different from most center backs in his age group in a sense that he would rather stay on his own two feet during pressure situations than go for a sliding tackle which can be a great risk if a defender is facing a pacey forward.

Kumbulla is a very instinctive defender and this allows him to confidently face off against the best forwards Serie A has on offer. For instance, in the historic win over Juventus, the Albanian was one of the best players on the pitch and completely neutralized Douglas Costa.

By the time football was brought to a screeching halt due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Verona boasted one of the best defenses in the league and were fighting for European qualification.

One of the most unique elements about Kumbulla’s rise has been the fact that despite his tender age, he is already so accomplished when defending in the forward areas of the pitch. Another thing that sets him apart is that he is very comfortable with the ball.

These days, managers prefer defenders who don’t start feeling giddy while in possession of the ball. Due to his ability to carefully assess a situation before making a pass, Kumbulla would be the ideal player for any side that plays with a three-man defense.

Currently, there is quite a battle going on between Roma and Lazio to secure the highly-rated player’s signature.

Marash Kumbulla was one of the key players in Verona’s fantastic past season – where the Gialloblu also managed to beat title-winner Juventus

Roma had been trying to do everything they could to sign Chris Smalling on a permanent basis from Manchester United. The Englishman spent last season on loan in Rome and became an integral member of the starting XI. Paulo Fonseca is keen on bringing him back but the Red Devils have proven themselves to be really stubborn when it comes to the player’s asking price.

Roma don’t want to pay over the odds for a player who might not have many years left in top-level football.

Kumbulla offers an interesting proposition. Although there are a few areas where he needs to improve on, the young defender is already settling in nicely in top-level football and at the age of 20, has a lot of time to grow and improve.

In fact, Roma can make a great profit out of selling him if he continues developing the way he is right now. But it remains to be seen if the Lupi would be able to sign him.

Lazio have also shown a lot of interest in the youngster and would definitely be trying to do what they can to beat their bitter rivals to Kumbulla’s signature. Moreover, Milan have also shown great interest in signing the youngster.

The residents of San Siro are building for the future and after acquiring Sandro Tonali from Brescia, are eager to continue injecting fresh blood in their ranks.

According to Italian transfer market guru Fabrizio Romano, Kumbulla is more interested in signing for Roma which means that this transfer saga is going to continue for a while.

But that’s not it!

Reportedly, Tottenham are also looking at the youngster’s profile and could move in if José Mourinho is given the green light by Daniel Levy.

The 2019-20 campaign was a breakthrough season for the Italian-Albanian. The youngster never looked out of place in the starting XI and showed that despite his age, he is good enough to play at the top in Italy.

Kumbulla is a smooth operator. If there’s a loose ball, he will make sure to get to it first and will then weigh his options (even if he is closed by an opponent) and then provide an incisive pass that would set off an attacking move.

While at Verona his incisiveness rarely resulted in goals, if he were to move to Roma, Lazio or Milan, Marash Kumbulla might become the number one key passes providers among defenders in the Serie A next season.