Roma and James Pallotta’s desire to stop discarding young talent
In recent years the Giallorossi have produced an abundance of youth team graduates that have blossomed at other clubs. After seeing this trend, the Lupi president wants to put a stop to it
Developing young players is not something that is prioritised by many Italian clubs, who historically tend to prefer star names and experienced heads in their squads.
This season Serie A followers have witnessed many youngsters emerge and they have adapted quickly to the rigours of senior level football. Clubs like AC Milan and Atalanta have gone down this path and the starlets at these teams could become stars at club and even international level in the not too distant future.
One club which has not been keen to integrate youth team products into the first squad is Roma. Although teams battling for trophies won’t worry too much about a youth policy, the Giallorossi has been a club that has offloaded many players who have thrived elsewhere.
Lupi president James Pallotta spoke to radio program Sirius XM FC after Roma lost 4-2 to Lyon in the first leg of their Round of 16 Europa League tie and he revealed his desire to see more Giallorossi players from the youth academy gain more playing time.
“We have sent on loan [to other clubs] youngsters that would have given the starters a chance to rest,” he said. “The other teams are enjoying their benefits [and] in the future it is going to change.”
He further elaborated the point when he later spoke to Roma Radio. While some clubs are developing the Giallorossi’s youth, there are others who still fail to gain valuable experience.
“I do not like to see them lent out, but we try to send them where they can gain experience. But a frustrating thing is that in many cases, we send players to accumulate experience and playing time and they get neither one nor the other. And often, those who play in their place in the team are not better than them. ”
Since Pallotta become Roma president in 2012, most of the Lupi’s young prospects have done better at other clubs or their careers have been in limbo.
One beneficiary of the Giallorossi’s willingness to offload prodigies are Sassuolo. Winger Matteo Politano, central midfielders Lorenzo Pellegrini and Luca Mazzitelli, and defender Luca Antei are owned by the Neroverdi but they came through the Lupi youth system while Federico Ricci is on loan from Roma after starring for Crotone in Serie B.
Politano and Pellegrini are key players for the Emilian side while Ricci has made 20 Serie A appearances for them, sometimes as a starter and other times in a cameo role off the bench.
In January Sassuolo signed 18-year-old Gianluca Scamacca from Dutch giants PSV Eindhoven but until the winter of 2015 he was a Roma youth team striker. If he can follow in the footsteps of Politano and Pellegrini, he could be another jewel that the Neroverdi helped to polish off.
Pescara have taken some Giallorossi youngsters on loan in the past and they even managed to fully own Gianluca Caprari and Valerio Verre before selling them to Inter and Sampdoria respectively.
Although Alessio Romagnoli and Andrea Bertolacci starred at Sampdoria and Genoa respectively, their form did not convince Roma enough to keep them. Romagnoli was sold to Milan for €25 million and Bertolacci went for €20m.
A number of youth team graduates are on loan at different clubs around the Italian peninsula, particularly at Serie B clubs. Daniele Verde plays for Avellino, Arturo Calabresi is based in Brescia, Lorenzo Di Livio is currently at Ternana, Elio Capradossi has been at Bari, and Christian D’Urso is at Carpi. The Lupi also have striker Umar Sadiq on loan at Serie A strugglers Bologna.
It is debatable that these players would have made an impact at Roma or if they would help the Giallorossi become a greater contender for trophies but it is evident that the Roman club produces enough talent for themselves and the rest of Italy.
It remains to be seen if Pallotta keeps his word but previous experiences have shown that if the kids can’t stay at Trigoria, someone else we appreciate their talents.