The forgotten man: Daniele Verde

Over two years ago now, a young Italian forward showed glimpses of talent as he found himself playing for Roma’s first team. Wearing the number 53 shirt, Daniele Verde made a decent impression at the age of 18, making seven appearances under Rudi Garcia. Just what has happened to the Neapolitan winger since his breakout season with the Giallorossi?

Let’s go all the way back to the start. In 2010, he joined Roma’s academy, spending the next four years there honing his talent and becoming a winger (he had been spotted as a full back at Pigna Calcio). The culmination of his journey was a key role in Roma’s 2014-15 UEFA Youth League campaign with the Primavera. Guided by manager Alberto De Rossi, Verde scored in both fixtures against CSKA Moscow in Group E. The team featured the likes of Arturo Calabresi, Elio Capradossi, Antonio Sanabria and Lorenzo Pellegrini, now a first team squad member at Roma. The young Lupi finished second in that group, advancing to the knockout stages. Verde was not involved again until the semi-finals, where Roma crashed out against a strong Chelsea side that included Dominic Solanke, Ruben Loftus-Cheek and Andreas Christensen.

Verde was impressing enough to be given a chance in the first team, where he would compete against the likes of Juan Iturbe, Adem Ljajic, Victor Ibarbo and Gervinho for a place in the team. None of those players are still at the club; perhaps this makes it understandable why he was given a chance. Regardless, Verde was an exciting prospect, and wanted to prove himself on the pitch. He made his senior Roma debut against Palermo in January 2015, and it wasn’t to be his last opportunity that season; the squad was heavily affected by injuries, pushing Verde higher up the pecking order. On 8th February, he was entrusted with a starting berth against struggling Cagliari. Several of his Primavera teammates were also included in the matchday squad for the trip to Sardinia. Roma won that game 2-1, and it was young Verde who set up both goals, as Adem Ljajic and Leandro Paredes scored. Verde was beginning to make an impression.

He went on to make a total of 10 appearances in all competitions for Roma that season, his only other start coming against Feyenoord in the Europa League. 22 times he was included in the matchday squad but did not play. Throughout the season he was selected to represent Italy for UEFA U19 European Championship qualification, scoring one goal in six appearances as his country failed to progress beyond the Elite Round.

In the summer of 2015, Roma added Mohamed Salah and Iago Falque to their squad, creating extra competition for Verde. Subsequently, the youngster was loaned out in order to gain further experience. The chosen destination was Frosinone, who had just been promoted to Serie A for the first time in their history. However, he struggled to make an impact at his new club, making just six Serie A appearances and failing to score or assist any goals. In January, he stepped down to Serie B to finish the season on loan at Pescara. He helped the team win promotion via the play offs, as the team returned to Serie A for the first time in four years. In 10 appearances in all competitions, he contributed three goals and one assist. Also progressing nationally, he made his debut for Italy’s U21s in September 2015, replacing current Fiorentina star Federico Bernardeschi in the match against Slovenia. He was in very good company – the line up also featured Andrea Conti, Daniele Rugani and Marco Benassi.

The winger, no longer a teenager, would spend the next season in Serie B as well, as Avellino took him on loan. In the 2016/17 season, Verde scored eight goals in 32 league games, also making five assists, as Avellino finished 17th out of 22 teams (they would have finished in 14th had they not been deducted three points for their involvement in match-fixing in 2014). Consistency had been added to Verde’s game and he had begun to show that he can create and score goals for his team.

Verde proved to be quite popular among Roma supporters and some may have been disappointed not to have seen his name on the squad list for the pre-season training camp in Pinzolo which will take place from tomorrow. Two other youngsters who had spent 2016-17 away on loan have been included on the list, after all: Matteo Ricci and Sadiq Umar. Several Primavera players have also been included and will take great value from the experience of training with the club’s head coach. But, what is going to happen to Verde?

That question may have been answered overnight. The expectation is that he will join Hellas Verona on loan with an option to purchase. Roma will then have a counter option, should Verona exercise that clause, to bring him back to the capital (very similar to the deal between Roma and Sassuolo for Federico Ricci last season, which has resulted in the Neroverdi purchasing the winger outright). Transfer expert Gianluca Di Marzio has reported that Verde is to extend his contract with Roma until 2020 today, before the loan move is formalised.

With Verona returning to Serie A for the new season, it will be an opportunity for Verde to test himself against the best once again. Hopefully, the loan spell is beneficial to him, and he can be of use to Roma in the future again. Let’s not forget, he performs better in a 4-3-3 formation, the exact preferred system of Eusebio Di Francesco. Still only 21, he should have a long career ahead of him. In the future, Verde may just have a chance to carve out an opening for himself in the Eternal City.

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