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The teenager who swapped League Two for Roma

‘Keep calm and humble’ – Alemanji swaps League Two for Roma

Mbunya Alemanji says he is trying to “keep humble” after swapping Cambridge United for Italian side Roma.

The 16-year-old has signed a three-year contract with the Serie A club, who recruited the forward without having seen him play in the flesh.

The League Two side will receive about £70,000 in compensation and Alemanji is set to link up with Roma’s Under-17 squad initially.

“It is a big move but I’m just trying to prove why I’m there,” he said.

“My friends have been saying to me: ‘Do you realise you’re at AS Roma?’ I’m just trying to keep calm.”

Alemanji was born in Germany but moved to England at the age of three.

He joined Cambridge as a 13-year-old after a six-week trial and was working with both their under-16s and under-18s before moving to Rome.

Mbunya Alemanji at Roma training ground
Mbunya Alemanji’s contract at Roma includes a year as a scholar before he turns professional

Alemanji’s agent, who also represents Lyon and Netherlands forward Memphis Depay, sent video highlights of the teenager to Roma’s interim sporting director Morgan de Sanctis earlier this year.

“It was during lockdown – my agent contacted me and said: ‘Roma are interested in you,'” Alemanji told BBC Sport.

“They are such a big team that I didn’t really think much of it.

“The next week he contacted me again and said you might have to travel to Rome in two weeks. I was like: ‘Wow.’ It took longer for it to happen but I eventually signed.”

Alemanji’s contract includes one year as a scholar before he turns professional.

He will live at Roma’s training complex, where he has already been mixing with their star players.

“I came out of my room – we had to do Covid tests – and I saw [former Chelsea winger] Pedro,” he said. “I was shocked.”

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