Nemanja Matic, not Paulo Dybala, is the signing that will provide the biggest boost to a Roma side who should be looking to push Inter for the Serie A title this season, according to former Giallorossi boss Fabio Capello.
While Roma’s sixth-placed finish in Italy’s top flight last term was nothing out of the ordinary, Jose Mourinho did lead the club to success in the inaugural Europa Conference League.
Overall, the season provided a solid foundation for Mourinho and Roma to build on, and they have enjoyed a promising transfer window as they prepare for the new campaign.
Georginio Wijnaldum, Mile Svilar and Zeki Celik all add depth to the squad.
While Paulo Dybala arrived on a free transfer after his Juventus contract expired – the Argentinian’s signing galvanised the fanbase and has been seen as a real statement of intent for the season to come.
Yet while Dybala may have attracted most of the focus, Capello – who spent time at Roma as a player and coach – thinks Matic may be an even shrewder acquisition after the experienced Serbian joined on a free from Manchester United to work under Mourinho for the third time.
Asked if he liked the signing of Dybala for Roma, Capello told Il Mattino:
“Sure, who doesn’t like him?
“But Mourinho’s real shot is in the middle, and it’s Matic. He’s impressive. Few know how to dam the middle of the field as he does.
“Roma cannot hide [not play proactively], but I don’t think, given the enthusiasm, that they think of doing that.”
Roma has not won the Scudetto since the 2000-01 season, their first title success in 18 years.
Capello is not getting carried away and suggesting they are the frontrunners.
But he does expect it to be the Giallorossi and Milan presenting the biggest challenge to Inter.
“It will be fun. I see a very balanced Serie A, a bit like last year.
“Although the balances may still change based on market operations this month.
“But, for example, Roma is there [as a challenger], with intelligent operations.
“Inter are always a step ahead. Roma and Milan are the ones that seem to me already complete, and that’s a plus.
“Juventus live with [Paul] Pogba’s injury, and there is a risk that he could play with the handbrake pulled due to the injury, fearing he could miss the World Cup in Qatar.
“And also Napoli is there in the running for a place in the Champions League.”
Roma begins their campaign away to Salernitana on Sunday.
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