Roma is a club with a long history of promoting players through its youth academy.
Look at club legend Francesco Totti, for instance. No player in the club’s history has scored more goals, made more appearances, or assisted more strikes than Totti. The Italian forward spent his entire career at the club, originally joining the academy when he was 13.
Remarkably, four of the club’s top ten record appearance holders, including Totti, were born in Rome, with three of them winning the World Cup. Daniele De Rossi and Bruno Conti are also on that list, with Giuseppe Giannini being the exception — he “only” made 47 appearances for Italy, finished third place in the World Cup, and won the Coppa Italia three times.
Unsurprisingly, being a Romanista on a team proud of its history and homegrown talent carries a lot of weight, and local prospects who looked promising initially have not panned out as hoped (although current captain Lorenzo Pellegrini has). With Roma again turning to its academy after several less-than-successful years, there are some exciting talents coming up: one of the best is Niccolò Pisilli.
CM Niccolò Pisilli, 18, AS Roma
Pisilli was, of course, born in Rome and is a product of the club’s youth academy. In 2021, he helped AS Roma win the under-17 Campionato, playing nearly an hour of the final against Cagliari.
The following season, Roma reached the semi-finals of the under-18 Campionato, with Pisilli again playing a big role. Despite missing large parts of the season due to injuries, he scored nine goals and registered three assists. He was also promoted to Roma’s Primavera side for part of the season.
The Primavera is the highest level of youth soccer in Italy, with the majority of players being 19 or younger. This is Pisilli’s first full season in the Primavera, and, with Roma in first, he’s been very impressive.
Pisilli has five goals and three assists, directly accounting for nearly 25% of Roma’s goals this season. This included this wonderful strike against AC Milan:
Pisilli is a very dynamic midfielder. He’s a strong finisher who can carry the ball up the field and make turns fast enough to lose defenders. However, he’s also talented on defense, intercepting passes and putting in strong tackles regularly. Pisilli’s vision really separates him from others: he knows exactly when to step to the ball and where to find his teammates with his passing, no matter where they are on the pitch.
Pisilli clearly sees his future with Roma, having just signed a contract that will keep him at the club until 2026. While he’ll likely finish the season with the Primavera, I’d recommend a loan move to a Serie B side next season — similar to what Juventus did with Nicolò Fagioli. After that, he could return and fight for a role or seek another loan move. At 18, Pisilli is already too good to be in the Primavera.
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