This transfer window is an exciting one for Roma fans. With Thomas Di Benedetto set to take control of the club at the end of July, rumours are rampant about players on whom the Giallorossi might look to splash their newfound American dollars. From suggestions such as Argentinean duo Javier Pastore and Erik Lamela to possible arrivals from the US such as Michael Bradley, Landon Donovan and Timothy Chandler, the Lupi are being linked with all manner of players.
While many of these prospective signings may leave fans salivating, they all have one thing in common; they are not Roman. In recent years, the Giallorossi have managed to remain competitive despite spending relatively little on players compared to the likes of Inter, Milan and Juventus. Outlays on players such as Jeremy Menez and Maro Borriello have been kept to a minimum as the club have continued to promote homegrown talent from within. Young players hailing from Rome such as Gianluca Caprari and Stefano Pettinari have made first team debuts in recent seasons as successive Coaches have striven to keep the squad essentially Roman.
The reason for this is the entirely individual footballing culture of the Italian capital. For example, when a group of Ultras were unhappy with the way the side were performing, they went to the training ground to protest. Rather than being ignored, they were granted an audience with Francesco Totti and reassured that the players were doing everything they could to improve the club’s fortunes.
For many squads this level of interaction with the fans would be too much to take. Roma, though, are a squad lead by Romans. Last season they were coached first by Claudio Ranieri, a Roman who began his career with the capital club, then by Vincenzo Montella who spent ten years playing at the Stadio Olimpico. Club captain Francesco Totti grew up a Giallorosso and turned down opportunities to join a number of other clubs on the peninsula in favour of signing for Roma as a child, the same can be said of vice-captain Daniele De Rossi better known as ‘il Capitan Futuro’ to the fans.
The club’s youth system continues to produce Roman talent, too. In Roma’s victorious Primavera squad, no less than 18 of the players hailed from amateur clubs in the capital. Alessandro Crescenzi and Marco D’Alessandro, both members of the Italy Under 21 squad, were born in Rome as was Andrea Bertolacci who impressed on loan at Lecce last season.
It seems, then, that there is no excuse for the side not to remain Roman even after the eventual departures of the likes of Totti and De Rossi. In a similar way that new Coach Luis Enrique has admitted that it is his responsibility to continue to provide the fans with the kind of attacking football that is traditional at Roma, it is the responsibility of the incoming board to continue to promote the development of local young players in order to stay loyal to the traditions of the club. The importance of balance cannot be overestimated as Di Benedetto and company look to improve the club while remaining faithful to it’s roots.