AS Roma Season Preview: Totti’s Last Stand

Blog by: Rishab

One Last Try (gettyimages)

One last time:  Roma legend and skipper Francesco Totti plans to hang up his boots at the end of the season. They won the first game of the season 2-0 away at Livorno. (Getty Images)

Watching AS Roma play last year was a privilege. That is until they decided to get serious and terminate Zdenek Zeman’s contract. With the introduction of caretaker manager Aurelio Andreazzoli, the team started to play a more structured style of football, and managed to edge out bitter rivals Lazio for sixth place in the Serie A.

The squad has undergone a host of changes during the transfer window, having bid adieu to stars such Pablo Osvaldo and Marquinhos to Southampton and PSG respectively. Roma have also bid farewell to club legend Simone Perotta; the World Cup winner decided to hang up his boots after nine years at the club.

It is widely expected that the eternal city will also say goodbye to Erik Lamela, 21. The Argentine international has been linked with a €35m move to Premier League club Tottenham Hotspur and is being hailed as the replacement for Real Madrid target Gareth Bale. If this deal goes through, then the Gillorossi would’ve lost both of their Serie A top scorers in the mercato.

It isn’t all glum news for the fans of the club, though, as the board has bought in quality replacements for every single position to back their new manager, Rudi Garcia, who has taken over from the caretaker manager after spending five years in France at Lille.

The young manager has bought with him a sense of belief to the team, which is also reflected in the off field dealings in the transfer market. The club has already secured the signatures of several high profile players including former PSV Eindhoven midfielder Kevin Strootman.

The Dutch international had been linked with clubs such as Manchester United and AC Milan but Roma swooped in with a €16.5m bid to steal him from under everyone’s noses.  Strootman is known for being a defensive midfielder who specialises in breaking up play, but equally impressive is his tactical knowledge that allows him to pick immaculate passes at the most crucial of times.

The Giallorossi have also bought in former Arsenal winger Gervinho for a reported €8m. The Ivory Coast international will be looking to impress after a relatively quiet stint in the Premier League that saw him score just nine goals in 45 premiership appearances.

They also solidified their defence after signing U-19 Croatia international Tin Jedvaj from Dinamo Zagreb and Moroccan centre-back Mehdi Benatia from Udinese. The new centre-back pairing will be looking to combine with stalwarts such Nicolas Budisso and Federico Balzaretti and will also be hoping to link up well with former Brazil international full-back Maicon.

The team is also looking to bring in a replacement for Lamela and as such is taking steps to secure the transfer of Adem Ljacic of Fiorentina. The young Serb has been at the centre of a long and drawn out transfer saga between the Florentine outfit and AC Milan, but now appears to be on his way to the capital to replace the departing Argentine.

The eternal city will depend on their captain Francesco Totti for one last season, before the World Cup winner finally hangs up his boots and passes on the torch to Daniele De Rossi, another thoroughbred Roman.

For the first time in years does the Stadio Olympico have a team that can keep up with the league leaders and actually challenge for a place in the Champions League. The goal has to be that then, but the reality of the situation is that every single team in the top half of the Serie A standings from last year has improved considerably.

And with the loss of two (potentially three) key players, AS Roma can develop only to a limited extent, which might not be enough to qualify for the Champions League. Having said that, it is important for Roma to know that this season is set up to be the most competitive in more than a decade and no one can say who will come out on top with any surety.

Predicted Finish: 6th

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