Hahah great start to the preseason, lads. I think there may be some more work to do before the season begins.
Cassetti, Panucci, Chivu, Tonetto
De Rossi, Brighi,
Mancini, Perrotta, Taddei,
On the bench: Bertagnoli, Mexes, Pizarro, Aquilani, Vucinic, Alvarez, Nonda, Pit, Rosi, Barusso, Freddi.
This is as good a point as any to talk about our new summer signings and how things might look this season. First, chronologically, is the Brazilian international centre back Juan, from Bayer Leverkusen. I think he's a good signing, and will presumably be first choice alongside Mexes. Chivu has still not left and they are now claiming it's 50/50 as to whether he will go, but I would be very surprised if he were to stay now that there's another centre back ahead of him in the pecking order. In fact, I think Juan was bought on the assumption that Chivu was off. I'll be sad to see him go but of him and Mexes I rate the latter more highly, so if one had to go better Chivu. Meanwhile Gianluca Freddi is our latest youth team player to be officially promoted to the first team, such that (at present) we have Mexes, Chivu, Juan, Ferrari and Freddi as central defenders, with Panucci or Cassetti at RB and Tonetto at LB. Back up at left back comes from Chivu (probably off to Inter) or Defendi (probably going back to Spurs since he's only on loan) so we might still be looking for another. Meanwhile Costa Rican defender Martínez has just been given the number 3 shirt so we must assume that he is part of Spalletti's plans.
In midfield we have a couple of newcomers: most exciting is Ludovic Giuly from Barcellona, who can play on either wing or as a support striker; he will help make us less dependent on the Mancini-Perrotta-Taddei triplet. Meanwhile joining De Rossi, Aquilani and Pizarro, who has confirmed that he is staying on after various co-ownership shenanigans with Inter, is the promising young Ghanian Ahmed Barusso. Arriving from Manfredonia, where he was a cult hero to the fans as he helped them achieve promotion from Serie D to C1 in just 2 seasons, via a stop in Rimini, he is supposed to be a hard-tackling but creative type, who will perhaps be useful in those games where Pizarro can seem a bit lightweight. Adrian Pit is a new Romanian midfielder about whom I can't tell you much.
And up front, after 6 seasons at Cagliari and a handful of national call-ups, Mauro Esposito has arrived to join Totti who is apparently now a striker, and Mirko Vucinic who has been given Montella's old number 9 shirt. Meanwhile a mysterious young Iranian, Keivan Zarineh, has also been signed from Rieti. Literally all I can tell you is that he is meant to be a forward.Oh and of course there is still the young Italian/Nigerian Okaka, who I think might be very good if he ever gets a bit of playing time. I rate Esposito and think that Vucinic deserves a chance to come good, so we shall have to wait and see whether these represent the reinforcements to our attacking line which last season showed we so badly need.
On the way out: Kuffour, Alvarez and Nonda who are technically still ours and have returned after their respective loan deals but who almost certainly have no future with the club; in all probability the midfielder Matteo Brighi, at Chievo for the last few seasons, is another such. Out on loan: Riccardo Faty, the French centre midfielder, and possibly Valerio Virga to follow. Meanwhile both Wilhelmsson and Tavano have gone back to whence they came at the end of their loan periods.
Anyway the website is pretty uninformative about what happened in Dortmund this evening, so I shan't be too concerned. In general I feel the squad is looking stronger than last season, but I still worry about our strength up front. It looks, from the new purchases, that Spalletti intends to stick broadly with the 4-2-3-1 we played last season, which continues to be alternately brilliant and flakey. On the bright side, as the Corriere dello Sport pointed out earlier this week, we now have a squad sufficiently large that we could put out 2 separate teams. Just about. And given how we struggled for cover last year, this is a not insignificant step forward. As an aside, that means there are no fewer than 8 of our first squad have come up out of our youth system, Romans born & bred. I think that's a pretty decent proportion myself.