Developing young talent is an intrinsic part of modern-day football and it goes without saying that having a regular source of players springing out of the club nursery is even more vital for a side in dire straits.
The heavily in-debt Giallorossi barely made a brief cameo during last summer’s Calciomercato window, but that could have been a blessing in disguise as the lack of transfer activity might give the kids a chance to shine.
And some of them have clearly showed they already have what it takes to cut the mustard at the highest level as Roma’s youth sides have all made a fantastic start to the season.
In fact, the little Lupi are currently setting the pace in all of the three major leagues of the Italian youth system: Primavera, Allievi and Giovanissimi.
The Primavera championship is the flagship tournament of the youth sector in the peninsula and the main stage where the future stars of Calcio, aged between 15 and 20, learn their ropes.
And the Giallorossi team managed by Alberto De Rossi, the father of Roma and Italy star Daniele, have already proved to be one of the domineering forces after the opening eight games.
They consolidated their stranglehold on Group C with a commanding 3-0 victory away to much-fancied Bari last weekend, maintaining a five-point lead over second-placed Palermo.
De Rossi’s men have bordered on perfection so far and the demolition job in Bari was their seventh win of the campaign.
The only minor blip was a goalless draw away to reigning champions Palermo, but what makes it all even more impressive is the fact that the Primavera side can boast an immaculate defensive record, goalkeeper Valerio Frasca keeping eight clean sheets thus far, whilst the strike force has been regularly ripping apart opposing defences, averaging 2.3 goals scored per game.
It’s no wonder that Frasca was said to have landed on Chelsea’s radar over the summer and perhaps Claudio Ranieri has been taking notice of 20-year-old Claudio Della Penna.
The attacking midfielder has long been considered one of the hottest prospects at Trigoria and is firing on all cylinders after playing a starring role for Italy at the FIFA U20 World Cup finals in Egypt.
The Allievi Nazionali are also brimming with confidence as they lead the way in Group F, along with reigning champions Fiorentina, boasting a similar record of seven wins and one draw.
Among the youngsters coming through at this level is a certain Gianluca Caprari, whose name might not ring any bells but he has already had a brush with the limelight of Serie A, so to speak.
Caprari shot to fame in January 2008 when as a 14-year-old the ball-boy tasted the ire of fiery Palermo President Maurizio Zamparini after swiftly placing the ball for a Rodrigo Taddei’s corner that led to Amantino Mancini’s winner at the Olimpico.
“The class of 1993 has less flaws than the Allievi of previous years and this team are making excellent progress,” enthused coach Andrea Stramaccioni after Sunday’s 5-1 rout of Colligiana.
And former Roma striker Vincenzo Montella is also on cloud nine after his Giovanissimi Nazionali made it eight wins out of eight on Sunday after thrashing Giulianova 3-0.
Staying true to his footballing past, the ‘Aeroplanino’ has assembled a real goal machine that has notched up 42 goals so far ahead of next weekend’s derby against Lazio.
Montella has made a flying start to coaching
“I made the right choice and coaching thrills me,” says Montella.
Montella’s impassioned words are a good omen for the future of the club and the blueprint to great success.
There is no doubt that Roma fans have been spoilt in the last decade with the likes of Francesco Totti, Daniele De Rossi and Alberto Aquilani coming through the ranks.
But it’s also evident that youth development had gone decidedly stale at Trigoria in recent years, which is something that Roma can ill afford without a sugar daddy injecting endless amount of money into the club.
I have been able to watch some of these young graduates in action of late and I saw glimpses of brilliance, easing my fears that life without captain Francesco Totti would be unbearable when he will eventually retire. A new golden generation is ready to take the baton in their hands.
Vince Masiello, Goal.com