AS Roma have completed the signing of FC Dallas Right Back Bryan Reynolds for 6.75m euros. Roma currently sits 3rd in Serie A in manager Paulo Fonseca’s second season in charge of the Giallorossi.
To understand how Reynolds will fit into Fonseca’s side, we must first review his teammates and how Fonseca’s system works, then finishing by establishing what to watch for when he is on the field.
Edin Dzeko has been a stalwart for years at Roma, becoming the club’s all time 3rd leading goalscorer, but recent struggles and a manager spat with Fonseca has meant that Borja Mayoral might be leading the line increasingly so in the future.
Out wide, Roma’s now twice prodigal son, Stephen El Sharaawy, will be returning from a spell in China to add some needed depth and quality. Additionally Henrik Mkhitarian has been at the heart of Roma’s attack in 20/21, with 10 goals and 10 assists on the season.
Roma have found a real gem in the engine room with Gonzalo Villar, the 22 year old spaniard signed from Elche for pennies and has developed into a wonderful midfielder. Jordan Veretout has been another midfield menace, with 7 goals on the season, including a brace against Juventus.
In the buildup, Villar drops into the back line to provide passes out wide and forward, as well he has the most completed dribbles in Serie A with 23.
Roma’s 3-5-2 has a heavy emphasis on wingback play, requiring pressing, skill, and delivery from them across the pitch. Unfortunately it is a rather thin area for Roma, as an injury to youth player Riccardo Califiori has left Leonardo Spinazzola as the lone LWB for the giallorossi, with Bruno Peres as his backup, both of whom are right footed. Rick Karsdorp has enjoyed his best run of form as of late, with his main asset being his pace.
Another bargain bin find has been Roger Ibanez, as the Brazilian revitalized the Roman backline with outstanding shot blocking and pace. Additionally for Manchester United defender Chris Smalling has rejuvenated his Career at Roma, anchoring the back line with physical play and interceptions.
The goalkeeping situation has turned sour for Roma, with Pau Lopez not playing up to snuff and 38 year old Antonio Mirante not stopping much. Lopez has resolidified himself as the starter as Mirante has been injured for weeks now.
Currently Roma sit 3rd in the league, with their main strength being their ability to dominate the bottom half of the table, with counter pressing and well crafted attacks, but struggle against the top sides in the league with individual errors dragging them down.
Revival under the 3-4-3
When Fonseca arrived at Roma, he immediately began work implementing his 4-2-3-1 formation. After inconsistency in the formation and players not being able to play to their strengths, Fonseca began work on the 3-4-3 formation. Since then Roma have won  points in  games using the formation.
The strength of the formation lies in the strength of individual talents working together in their best positions. Spinazzola struggled mightily with the reliance on defense in the 4-2-3-1 but has been given freedom to use his skill and passing as a wing back. Similarly, Veretout’s scoring ability was nullified as a defensive midfielder but as a box to box he has resumed his scoring form.
The 3 attackers are lined up on paper as a left forward, right forward, and striker, as they play more narrow than a typical winger, and recently have been lining up as Mkhitarian, Pellegrini, and Dzeko. Pellegrini tends to stay towards the top of the 18 which leaves plenty of space for Rick Karsdorp to act as a winger in the final third. Likewise Spinazzola will create overloads on the left, though typically preferring a more methodical route rather than Karsdorp’s full speed ahead style.
In defense, the wide CB’s will try to stay between the attacker and the goal to trap them with the wing back on the cover. Roger Ibanez is one of the best in the league at one on one defending, but issues arise with attacks through the center.
In buildup play, Villar drops deep toward the central defenders, both of whom feed the wingbacks that begin the play up field. Spinazzola plays a huge part of the buildup, with many of Roma’s attacks coming down the left side. A right sided wing back equal to Spinazzola would give Roma much more dynamism.
Although it is easy to look at Reynolds’ spot on the teamsheet, as a 3rd choice right wing back behind Peres and Karsdorp, he will still likely get many quality minutes as the season wears on.
On the left side, Spinazzola has been very important to the Roma attack due to his interplay in the buildup as his ability to make space to deliver into the box. Neither Peres or Karsdorp have been able to equal Spinazzola’s threat on the opposite side.
Reynolds’ best qualities from his season with FC Dallas was his ability to drive from defense to attack, utilizing his short passing skill with his midfielders and wingers, then creativity and skill in the final third, to create space on the right to deliver a low cross through the box. Additionally, his height denies some over the top passes and his physicality gives him an advantage in both defense and attack.
Interplay in the buildup with a focus on short passes and movement after, the ability to make space, and a killer delivery into the box is a lot of what Fonseca desires in attack from his RWB, as well as adding a much more physical presence when compared to other options at the position.
What to watch for
When on the field, Reynolds will be heavily involved in the buildup and attack, linking between the CBs and CMs to create space to run into. As Reynolds was a winger who made the switch to fullback, much of his original winger tendencies will be on display, such as we saw through his ball rolls and step overs.
He will spend a good amount of time in attack isolated against the left back and making runs into the channel between the edge of the 18 and the sideline.
Overall Roma’s current system may be the perfect fit for Reynolds, with his skill in attack and his physical presence in defense, there is a great opportunity for him to flourish in the eternal city.