Cengiz Under is a player who currently goes by the tune of four goals and two assists in the last three games, not bad for a Turkish 20-year-old Serie A debutant. With Eusebio Di Francesco successfully navigating the storm of scrutiny he endured over the holiday period, he will be delighted to enjoy calm while Roma’s newfound love steals the show.
As soon as Under’s rocket-propelled shot whipped past the helpless Albano Bizzarri, the collective gasp from Giallorossi supporters is something they may revel in getting used to. Under’s start has been nothing less than outstanding. With Monchi, the man who unearthed Roma’s crown jewel undoubtedly basking in the fruits of his labour, Under has proved why Roma can expect a stream of such talents from the Spaniard’s scouting system.
Even though the squad has been moulded somewhat perfectly for Di Francesco, Monchi was brought to Roma to keep their finances in order. Fattening the cattle for market is his skill set, and while January’s Edin Dzeko saga is now a faded memory, fans know that any inkling that Roma is a finishing school for Europe’s Elite would be grossly incorrect.
Cengiz Under may well be spinning Monchi’s eyes with dollar signs, but the reality is that the director of sport signals a new era for Roma, an era which is exactly what they need at this present time. Finding value in an era when the actual transfer fee has become somewhat arbitrary is invaluable for clubs existing outside of the mega rich. Under represents the advantage of Roma acknowledging their place in European football and exploiting that.
Tactically, Di Francesco’s switch to a 4-2-3-1 has succeeded in freshening up a side which had begun to look stale. By simply switching the tip of the midfield diamond, he has managed to spark an upturn, one which is to the delight of Roma’s best player Radja Nainggolan.
Under Spaletti, Nainggolan’s positioning in the attacking midfield strata was something he reveled in, and Di Francesco’s subtle move to encourage a more positive, front foot approach has breathed new life into Roma.
A goal glut of eight in their last three fixtures have put Roma in the driving seat for Champions League qualification, and if Di Francesco’s smart switch indicated anything it is that he has dispelled any notion than he is out of his depth.
Ahead of a tough trip to Eastern Europe in midweek to take on Ukrainian giants Shakhtar Donetsk, Roma have enjoyed the perfect preparation. A refreshing tactical switch which has coincided with the emergence of the phenomenon Under has seen Roma thrust out of their dip. With Cengiz red hot and Di Francesco enjoying a second wind, a place in the Champions League quarter finals looks a real prospect.
For now, Roma should bask in the hope Cengiz Under has inspired. He may only be 20, but Roma will be thankful Monchi took a chance on the Turkish gem, who looks destined for greatness.