Roma must act fast to solve defensive problem


Roma made significant progress last season following the arrival of Luciano Spalletti. The Giallorossi stuttered through a season-wrecking winter period which cost Rudi Garcia his job. Recovery under Spalletti took Roma to the Champions League qualifiers and hopes of continued progression both at home and on the continent.

But there is one major headache approaching the new campaign. Roma already knew defensive reinforcements were required. But recent injuries have made them increasingly vital.

Antonio Rudiger’s ACL injury suffered during Euro 2016 preparations with Germany sent alarm bells through the Italian capital. The 23-year-old came into his own at the heart of the Giallorossi defence last term, stepping up in place of Leandro Castan. The Brazilian was on the mend following a brain problem, naturally a slow process.

That leaves Kostas Manolas in need of a defensive partner. Roma spurned off advances for the Greek defender and have signed Juan Jesus from Inter on loan. Castan has joined Sampdoria on loan this term, while January signing Ervin Zukanovic has moved to Atalanta.

It’s a similar situation out wide. Roma were unable to find an agreement with Paris Saint-Germain to make left-back Lucas Digne’s stay permanent and he has moved to Barcelona. Alessandro Florenzi regularly stepped in on the opposite flank and did well, but is not a natural fit. Summer signing Mario Rui was supposed to be the solution, but he too has suffered a long-term knee injury.

That leaves the Giallorossi scrambling. “His [Rui’s] injury is very costly to us because it comes in combination with that of Rudiger,” Spalletti said on Monday. “Earlier we were close to fixing our defence, but now we need to operate on it again.”

The boss confirmed Roma are on the hunt for two more defenders. But with little time to act. Thomas Vermaelen is the top central target. Tottenham’s Fazio is another option. Matteo Darmian is the main priority out wide, however Manchester United would prefer only a permanent deal as opposed to Roma’s loan proposal. That could open the door to Inter’s Danilo D’Ambrosio.

Serie A does not start for another three weeks, yet Roma are involved in the Champions League qualifiers. The capital club has attacking depth, but Spalletti will want his new players to have time to gel before those crucial matches in mid-August. Roma have misfired with late-window signings in recent seasons – for example, Zukanovic and Seydou Doumbia – and cannot afford slip-ups here.

If they do, it could well compromise the season before it has even got underway.

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