Roma President James Pallotta has hailed Nicolo Zaniolo and Lorenzo Pellegrini as ‘future leaders’ for the Giallorossi.
Zaniolo and Pellegrini helped Roma take a 2-1 lead in their Champions League last-16 tie with Porto on Tuesday, the former scoring both their goals, and Pallotta sees the promising pair at the Olimpico for the long haul.
“I thought we played very well as a team and it was unfortunate that Porto got that goal,” he told SiriusXM FC.
“You have to remember though that before last night, Porto were on a 26-game unbeaten run, they last lost in October.
“Guys like Zaniolo and Pellegrini are intelligent, mature and thoughtful beyond what you would think... you are talking about players who I believe can be future leaders at Roma.
“I don’t know [if it was a penalty on Pepe]. I mean, I’ve given up on VAR. I don’t understand when it is used sometimes, and I don’t understand some of the calls after it is used sometimes. I think it has been a little frustrating.
"Certainly before the [winter] break, there were a number of times – including against Fiorentina – where I think we were hurt badly by VAR.
“I don’t know if it ever evens out, I don’t feel like it does. I am always biased… but I’m not sure it ever does even out. But I’m not really focused on that so much.
“I’m not sure if I’m going [yet]. I do like our position. I don’t know if they are going to change [the away goals rule] but I do like that if we score a goal over there, or a couple of goals, it is worth [more].
“I think, obviously, we can play well against them - and they are a very good team. But I actually like it better this way, than if we played the other way and played in Portugal first.
“We don’t feel like we need to sell these young players. About three years ago we made a concerted effort; Rome should be an attractive place for young players to come and play.
“We didn’t have a great process that we inherited when we took over the team, and maybe in the first few years we had other priorities too.
“But if you look at our youth teams right now, from Under-19 to the 10-year-olds, when you look at the aggregate points we are on the top of all of Italy. So we feel like we have some tremendously good young talent that is going to be coming up.
“We had seven Italian players in the starting line-up last night, which I think the last time that happened was with Juventus about six years ago.
“So we do think we have a lot of homegrown talent. And in fact today our Under-17 team is playing in this big tournament in Doha and we are in the semi-finals.
“We beat PSG and Spartak Moscow, and a couple of other wins, so we have some very strong young talent.
“We made that effort, and I think it is really, really going to pay off in the next two or three years.”