Chelsea are reportedly in for left-wing back Emerson Palmieri from Serie A side Roma. Commonly known as Emerson, the Brazilian born player is somewhat unknown amongst fans who don’t watch the Italian league.
The now 23-year old grow up in Brazil and was part of the Santos youth academy which is famous for producing some great players in the past such as Pele, Ze Roberto, and more recently Neymar and Alex Sandro.
Sandro is a name that gets mentioned alongside Emerson, the two players have a similar playing style, but the latter of course being three years younger. The blues have been targeting the Juventus left back since the summer but appear to have dropped such interest in order to find a cheaper option, with recent talks happening between them and Porto regarding another Brazilian left back Alex Telles.
However, it seems Emerson is also a real target for the role to come in and provide competition to Marcos Alonso, who has been struggling with fatigue according to Antonio Conte.
The Roma left footer has pace, skill and the ability to carry the ball and dribble past players. There does not seem to be any concerns over his attacking qualities. However, it’s the defensive side of his game that has often been questioned particularly in his younger days.
I’ve been catching up with some Roma supporters who have told me that the player has matured since then and has improved the defensive side of his game. But is it enough for him to be a genuine challenger for that left back role?
Coming through the youth ranks in Santos, he established himself in the first team squad making 18 appearances for the club between 2012 – 2015. During this time he also gained attention from the national setup earning 15 appearances for Brazil Under 17s.
It was from here that his career began stuttering and some disciplinary issues on the pitch raised questions on his development. He was scouted by various big clubs at the time, but it was Italian side Palermo who decided to take the youngster on loan with a buyout clause.
In 2014 he made 9 appearances for Palermo, but was mainly used as a backup to Achraf Lazaar.
But Emerson’s quality was still being noticed and fellow Serie A side Roma decided to take him on loan. After establishing himself enough to earn an extended loan spell at the club, Roma signed him permanently in 2016 for £1.5 million. He has since suffered with injuries and although making 34 appearances for Roma, he has only featured on one occasion so far this season due to returning from a knee ligament injury, which of course creates a huge risk for Chelsea or any other suitors.
It’s worth noting that the Blues are not the only club excited by his talent, Liverpool have also expressed an interest in signing him during this window.
Emerson has Italian ancestors on his mother’s side and decided to switch allegiances to Italy, after Head Coach Giampiero Ventura told him he was interested in calling him up to the National side. In March 2017 he officially became an Italian citizen.
Roma blogger Rahul Warrier has the following to say, speaking on performances last season.
“Roma fans have their very own Brazilian left-back to cheer and he’s quickly proving to be just as dynamic and impressive as Sandro – and three years younger. This is a player who’s clearly something of a late bloomer, and this is actually his first season as a regular at any club – despite the fact that he’s already 23.
“His preference to play short passes sees Roma use the left flank more often than not. Emerson connects the defence and the attack in the wing-back role that has returned to vogue this season. A pass success percentage of 87.4% in all competitions is excellent for a full-back.
“Emerson Palmieri is on the way to becoming a regular at both club and international level – something few would have predicted at the start of the season.”
I have read mixed reviews on social media from Chelsea supporters reacting to this news, I’m sure some of them are regular followers of his performances, but I am equally sure that none of them have watched a single game of Serie A in their lives.
There is no doubting the quality of Emerson, but is he maturing and blooming quick enough to be an asset to this Chelsea side? It seems a risk, but I’m sure the fee would be very low as would his wage demands. So a risk that Chelsea could be willing to take.