With the start of their 2018 campaign just days away, Roma are looking to build upon their successes from the previous season under Eusebio Di Francesco, which saw them finish third in Serie A while also making a deep run into the Champions League semi-finals. The area that underwent a complete and total facelift this summer was the Giallorossi’s midfield. Sporting director Monchi made his thoughts of Roma’s midfield set-up from last season loud and clear as he brought in a staggering five new midfielders during this transfer window. Here’s a deeper look at Roma’s midfield for the upcoming season.
Radja Nainggolan – Sold (Inter, €38 million)
Gerson – Loan (Fiorentina)
Javier Pastore (PSG, €24 million)
Steven Nzonzi (Sevilla, €26.5 million)
Bryan Cristante (Atalanta, €5 million loan with €15 million obligation to buy plus €10 million in potential bonuses)
Ante Coric (Dinamo Zagreb, €6 million)
Nicolo Zaniolo (Inter, €4.5 million)
Expected Starters (4-3-3 Formation)
Roma were in desperate need of a revolution in their midfield and that certainly happened. Roma’s preferred midfield from last season, which consisted of Radja Nainggolan, Daniele De Rossi, and Kevin Strootman was, to put it very kindly, very poor and very slow. Neither of the aforementioned names suited Eusebio Di Francesco’s tactics and they provided very little attacking ability. Enter Ramon Monchi. The Spanish sporting director wasted no time this summer in overhauling Roma’s midfield. Radja Nainggolan, who suffered his worst season at the club, was sold while former Fluminense wonder boy, Gerson, was sent to Fiorentina on loan. Monchi, meanwhile, brought Javier Pastore and Steven Nzonzi to the Italian capital in two big-money moves while also adding Atalanta’s Bryan Cristante, who scored 9 goals for La Dea this past season, as well as Ante Coric, a youngster with a bevy of top flight European experience, and Nicolo Zaniolo, a teenaged sensation who performed sensationally at the U19 World Cup this summer.
The new names that have arrived in the midfield will give manager Eusebio Di Francesco a variety of options and the ability to utilise various formations. The biggest single need Roma had this summer was finding a defensive midfielder to replace 35 year old Daniele De Rossi. De Rossi still has the ability to perform at a high level, though, it’s unfair to expect him to do it multiple times per week; Monchi resolved this problem by bringing a familiar face to Rome in Steven Nzonzi. The Frenchman provides the ball recovery and tackling ability that was lacking last season and he should be a perfect fit in Serie A. Meanwhile, Javier Pastore signaled his return to Italy after seven seasons in France. The former Palermo man, despite his injury record, is the creative outlet Roma have been seeking ever since the departure of Miralem while Bryan Cristante is a perfect fit for Di Francesco’s mezz’ala role, unlike Kevn Strootman. Coric adds fantastic depth alongside Lorenzo Pellegrini while Nicolo Zaniolo could benefit from a loan move in order to find continuity.
If the Giallorossi are to improve upon their results from last season, it will all begin and end with the midfield. Roma lacked depth in the middle of the pitch but that was addressed this summer by Monchi. The many additions could perhaps even raise the levels of Strootman, De Rossi, and Pellegrini, who will all be in a massive fight for playing time. If Javier Pastore is able to rediscover his form and Nzonzi can continue playing at a high level, the Giallorossi will have undoubtedly improved the quality of their midfield and could potentially be a stronger force this season than last.
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