Roma waiting to see what Schick can do in Serie A
MILAN (AP) Few had heard of Patrik Schick when he moved to Italy last year. Fast forward 12 months and Roma fans can barely contain themselves as they wait to see what the 21-year-old Czech forward can do.
Schick scored 11 goals in his first season in Serie A with Sampdoria. He is expected to make his Roma debut on Saturday - at Sampdoria.
Despite only spending a year at La Samp, he became a fan favorite because of his undoubtable talent and work ethic.
Sampdoria coach Marco Giampaolo initially used Schick as a substitute, but the youngster scored on his first start - against Juventus - and after netting in three straight matches in December it became difficult to leave him out of the starting lineup.
That scoring streak was capped by a spectacular strike against Chievo Verona when, with his back to goal, Schick flicked the ball over a defender and raced through the opposition before driving home a precise finish.
Schick made his league debut for Sparta Prague in 2014, but his career took off during the 2015-16 season while on loan at Czech club Bohemians.
Sampdoria then signed him the following year for a fee of about 4 million euros ($4.8 million), and Roma snapped him up in a club record deal adding up to about 42 million euros ($51 million).
Schick had been set to join six-time defending champion Juventus but the deal collapsed because of a reported heart problem.
''What happened with Juventus is in the past,'' Schick said. ''I don't want to talk about it. That's football. I'm not disappointed about it and absolutely I'm happy I can be here.
''There are no differences between Roma and Juventus. They are top clubs with the same ambitions. I like Roma and its style of play.''
Schick has also played five times for the Czech Republic, netting on his debut against Malta in May 2016.
Roma is a club used to shrewd bargains, as is new sporting director Monchi, but Schick's skills persuaded them to spend the money.
And Monchi, who discovered the likes of Dani Alves, Ivan Rakitic, Julio Baptista, Sergio Ramos, Seydou Keita, Jesus Navas and Carlos Bacca during his time at Sevilla, believes this could be his best deal yet.
''I have been operating in the role of a sporting director for 17 years,'' Monchi said, ''and this is perhaps the signing where I feel the most pleased, satisfied and proud.''