AS Roma Serie A Preview: Change Is Good in Italy's Capital
By Oliver Wilson
Eleven years have passed since Roma last called themselves champions of Italy, and while a return to the form that brought the Scudeto to Rome 2000/01 is still a long way away, Giallorossi are making the right steps to return to the promised land of the Champions League.
Change has been rife at the club this summer and it all started at with the man in charge back in June.
Former manager Luis Enrique’s departure in early summer was no big loss to fans in the capital. His side smashed in 60 goals during last season’s campaign, one of just four teams to break the 60+ goal mark in Serie A, but the 54 conceded meant a late push for a Champions League spot was impossible.
The Spaniard's departure opened the door for the return of an old friend to the club, Zdenek Zeman.
65-year-old Italian Zeman spent two years at the club between 1997 and 1999 without ever achieving greatness, but his time in the lower levels of Serie A and B has helped mature his style, allowing him to be given a last shot at the big time.
Zeman has wasted no time in making changes. Brazilian defender Juan is gone, while Fabio Borini’s move to Liverpool has helped free up some capital and wage space at the club.
In return come Matias Destro and Frederico Balzaretti.
Destro, from Genoa, is technically on a one-year loan costing Roma €11.5 million, but the option to buy Destro at the end of the year for another €4.5 million is almost certain to be taken out on the exciting 21-year-old.
Combined with the equally young Bojan, Roma are hoping that youthful exuberance will bring another 60+ goals to the Stadio Olympico, but can they close the floodgates at the back?
Balzaretti’s signing will hopefully act as some sort of plughole as he looks to carry his Euro 2012 form into Serie A season. The left back’s help more then likely push Heinze into the center of defense and will provide experience and support on the left flank, both going forward and back.
Midfield depth has also been added in the form of USA international Michael Bradley. His season in Chievo provided invaluable experience to the Italian style of football and, after adapting with flying colours, Roma have decided to pick up one of the best exports in US soccer.
Roma’s budget may not be totally spent, but their two big signings will more then likely close the American owners wallets for the time being.
Their purchases could well be enough to make up for the short comings of last season, and a top four finish could well be on the cards as AC Milan struggle to keep their stars, and Juventus face ten months without manager Antonio Conte.
To ensure that charge both Pablo Osvaldo and Daniele De Rossi will need to repeat their incredible seasons from a year ago.
Di Rossi has been waiting to take the baton from Francesco Totti as Rome’s favorite son, and his performances over the last 12-months have warranted that opportunity. While Totti’s shining light begins to fade, De Rossi’s grows ever brighter in the heart of Roma’s midfield.
Osvaldo, however, is the firepower behind the strikers. The Argentine finished as the side’s top scorer last season and all eyes will be on him to see if he can repeat the feat, and carry Roma back to the upper echelon of Serie A.