United States Men’s National Team midfielder Michael Bradley was finally given his chance to shine in the summer of 2012 when Italian giant AS Roma purchased his rights from fellow Italian club Chievo Verona for 3.75 million euros or about $5.1 million.
In his first season with Roma, Bradley would make 35 appearances including 29 starts for managers Zdenek Zemen and Aurelio Andreazzoli. Bradley was a key midfield cog alongside longtime Roma legend Daniele De Rossi and Bosnian superstar Miralem Pjanic which led Roma to a disappointing sixth-place finish in the Italian Serie A and to the final of the Coppa Italia where the club lost to city rivals Lazio. These results meant the club would miss out on European competition for the first time since the 1997-98 season in which ironically the team was managed by Zdenek Zemen.
This past summer a new manager was brought in with Rudi Garcia, formerly of Lille OSC, and a slew of new signings including the 17 million euro acquisition of Dutch midfielder Kevin Strootman — who has been targeted by Manchester United among others in England. Since Strootman’s arrival and an untimely ankle sprain suffered on international duty, Bradley’s minutes have been drastically decreased.
Bradley has made five starts along with six appearances from the substitutes bench in the 17 matches played by Roma this season. Of the available 1,530 minutes played, Bradley has been on the field for 555 of them or 36.27 percent. Even if you do not include the matches where Bradley was unavailable due to injury he still has only played in 56 percent of the minutes available.
National Team manager Jurgen Klinsmann has stated that his wish is for “his players to be tested at the highest level possible while pushing themselves out of their own comfort zones.” While Bradley is in the fourth best league in all of Europe according to the UEFA Association Rating, he is struggling to find time on the pitch — time that will only make him better as a player.
With De Rossi at age 30, it would not be wise for the 26-year old Bradley to seek a full transfer as he could easily overtake De Rossi in the midfield during the coming years. A loan to a lower English Premier League club — possibly even Sunderland where Bradley would be able to develop some more chemistry with fellow American Jozy Altidore as well as attempt to help the club stay in the Premier League — would be an ideal fit. Any place where Bradley can get consistent playing time and help him be in top form for the 2014 World Cup in June would be a good move.