Rasmus Kristensen is ready to become the second player to move from Leeds United to Roma in 2023 after Diego Llorente – and some fans with knowledge of both clubs have been telling Giallorossi Yorkshire what to expect.
When Giallorossi Yorkshire was set up in 2017, connections between the two words in the name were rare – but in 2023, it almost feels like some of Roma’s transfer activity has been designed specifically to fit the niche.
Roma have renewed the stay of Llorente for another season after initially loaning him in from Leeds United in January, while Kristensen is set to follow him on the same terms from the same club.
Llorente was already known to Roma fans thanks to his loan spell last season, whereas Kristensen may be more of an unknown quantity.
Therefore, Giallorossi Yorkshire has spoken to three people who support both Roma and Leeds – Dec Campbell, Tom Hill, and Giorgio Paci from AS Roma North UK – to see what they think about the two bits of business between their two clubs.
Kristensen was actually linked with Roma before he went to Leeds. What was your reaction when Leeds signed him last year?
Dec: I was excited about Kristensen at first. I only saw him play in the Champions League but he always seemed to have a good game or produce a goal involvement.
Tom: I do vaguely remember Roma being linked to him, although they were never serious links as Salzburg’s €15mln price tag was out of our reach. When Leeds signed him I felt quite positive about his season ahead and thought he would be a serious upgrade from Ayling, who I’m not too keen on to be quite honest.
Giorgio: Ah was he?! I never actually knew that. I didn’t know much about him, but with his Red Bull pedigree and having played under Marsch at Salzburg I was optimistic. I thought it showed a desire to really support Marsch and I hoped it was a sign of a good season ahead. Obviously it didn’t quite turn out that way!
Obviously it was a disappointing season on the whole for Leeds. How would you rate how Kristensen did individually?
Dec: He was amongst the disappointing signings for sure, marking was his main issue but also didn’t look a threat going forward – which I thought was going to be one of his strengths. He showed more promise at centre back.
Tom: Very disappointing indeed. I would honestly say though that Kristensen is maybe one of the only few who saved himself. He wasn’t consistent, but then again no one was and it’s never easy playing in a team fighting a relegation scrap and being coached by three very different managers. I’m not saying he had a great season, but I saw some good aspects to his play and think he could be a solid addition for Roma. Fingers crossed.
Giorgio: 5 out 10. Had his share of the mistakes but did chip in with a few goals and some good attacking moments. Ultimately he was brought in to replace Ayling at RB and ended the season behind Ayling in the pecking order which probably says it all.
What are some of Kristensen’s strengths and weaknesses?
Dec: His mental attributes are a positive, his passion and willingness to work for a team is every manager’s dream. His weaknesses appear to be in his technical ability, just never really looks a threat on the ball.
Tom: He’s clearly a very physical player, solid in the defensive side of things, great speed and can play both right and centre back. I did notice though that, on the ball, he can be quite clumsy and he’s not the most technically gifted player.
Giorgio: He has good pace which helped fix some defensive mistakes and looks lively going forwards. Defensive positioning was concerning though.Embed from Getty Images
Between Kristensen and Roma’s existing right-backs, Celik and Karsdorp, how would you rank them in order of preference?
Dec: Celik – Karsdorp – Kristensen. I’m not sure if Karsdorp and Mou ever made up after that spat, but I thought he would’ve left the club already. If he does, Kristensen could be a suitable backup to Celik – I think there’s more to come from Zeki.
Tom: Celik has been a massive let down this season, only game where I thought he was great was against Milan. Karsdorp has clearly had a tough season, his spat with Mourinho which was then followed by a season-ending injury, and I’ve never been a massive fan of him either. I would currently put Celik and Kristensen on a par, with Karsdorp bottom and most likely heading out of Roma this summer.
Giorgio: Celik, Karsdorp, then Kristensen. But, I am happy to be positively surprised.
Is Kristensen the kind of player you can imagine being suitable for Jose Mourinho?
Dec: I think he would be good under Mou actually, I mentioned his mental attributes being a positive so I think he’ll fit right in. He also has a passion for tackling and you’ll often see him celebrating them like goals – he’s great for getting the crowd going.
Tom: I think he could be perfect for Jose, very physical, likes to get up the pitch but also knows how to defend, and loves a scrap which is always a criteria required by Jose.
Giorgio: Potentially yes. It would not surprise me in the slightest if Mourinho turned him around. His tenure at Roma proves he has a skill to turn ex-Premier League players into great Serie A ones. I remember how underwhelmed I felt at the signing of Matic, only to be really impressed watching him play under Mourinho. It could go either way for Kristensen I think.
As for Llorente, were you surprised by how he did for Roma last season?Embed from Getty Images
Dec: I was actually, I was surprised Roma wanted him because his performances for Leeds were below what was expected – but so were most of the team, so was it just a case that he couldn’t thrive at Leeds? He’s comfortable on the ball but not very dominant, I think he needs a solid, imposing partner to really shine.
Tom: I was quite surprised, very impressed by his performances and was really hoping a deal got sealed soon.
Giorgio: He did much better than I expected. Again, I would attribute that to Mourinho’s talent. The Leeds part of me was happy to see him go in January (especially seeing how high the permanent option was!), and the Roma part thought it was a bad move but that he probably wouldn’t play anyway. In the end his Roma performances were a pleasant surprise and I think he will probably do quite well next season after a full Mourinho pre-season.
Roma didn’t use their option to buy Llorente this summer. Do you think it’s fair to be taking him back on loan?
Dec: His time is up at Leeds to be honest – so let Roma have him. The clause for £18m was very Football Manager-esque – no one believed they’d actually pay that. 10m would have been a good fee and I was hoping Leeds made it mandatory to avoid being messed about again.
Tom: It’s obviously a sticky situation. Roma are currently very restricted on the market with the FFP parameters imposed on them, and Leeds are going through a very strange period with a lot of uncertainty and with most players having an option or just simply requesting a straight loan for the season, it’s putting them in an even more complicated situation. I think a fair deal for both parties would have been a loan with an obligation to buy related to appearances and Champions League qualification.
Giorgio: You could say Roma are exploiting Leeds’s position as a relegated team but why shouldn’t they. It is how the business works after all. Roma want him and Leeds definitely don’t want to be paying his wages as a Championship club so another loan probably works well for everyone in the end.
If you had to make a prediction now, do you think Kristensen and Llorente will be successful enough to stay at Roma beyond the 2023-24 season?
Dec: Two ways I’d look at it – I don’t think they are good enough to be starters for a Europa League side and as a fan I’d like us to aim a bit higher. Both excelled before Leeds and have done well for their national teams – so maybe it was just the struggles at Leeds that affected their performances.
Tom: I think Llorente could well end up following in Smalling’s path and stay at Roma for several seasons if he builds on these past six months. Kristensen is hard to predict, but considering his abilities and style I think he could be a perfect match for Jose’s football.
Giorgio: I think Llorente will be signed permanently next summer. Regarding Kristensen my gut would say no, but it is hard to judge until we see him play.