Venezia players to keep an eye on for Oakland Roots

With just 15 players currently under contract, a certain approach of Oakland Roots’ roster building will be to continue plucking from the bottom of Venezia’s roster. Roots struck gold last season with Ottar Magnus Karlsson, so much so that we’ve been told the Italian side is looking to sell him for multiple times more than his €400,000 Tranfermarkt value.

Setting the team’s goal scoring record, Karlsson increased his Transfermarkt value total by €250,000 in 2022. Mikael Johnsen, meanwhile, had his market value jump from €50,000 to €150,000. We’ve been told that Venezia came away very pleased by how Karlsson made noise in the USL Championship, which should make the Italian team eager to continue using Roots as an outlet for development.

So, who will be next batch of Venezia loanees? Here’s a list of Venezia’s statistics in 2022/2023 and its roster list.

You can certainly rule out players who are picking up minutes in its Serie B season; there are currently 17 players on Venezia who have less than five appearances thus far. One would also think players above 30-years-old wouldn’t be options given its unlikely they’d increase their values at this stage of their careers, which excludes Finnish goal keeper Niki Mäenpää, Italian defender Marco Modolo, and Russian forward Denis Cheryshev. Speaking of keepers, Roots seem set going forward with Paul Blanchette, Taylor Bailey, and a backup option from Project 51O–so 24-year-old Brazilian GK Bruno and 17-year-old Italian Tommaso Sperandio should also be out of consideration.

Taking examples from Karlsson and Johnsen’s market values, we can also expect players with a valuation over or around €1 million to be unlikely options at the USL Championship level, which takes out Irish forward Aaron Connolly and Austrian midfielder Maximilian Ullmann.

From the list of Venezia players, we can also count out 21-year-old Bosnian forward Mirza Hasanbegović after being released by the club in September, meanwhile 18-year old forward Hilmir Mikaelsson and 24-year-old defender Facundo Zabala were loaned out this week. Also on the list is 19-year-old midfielder Kristófer Jónsson, but he’s on loan with Venezia’s U19 team from Valur, where he’s under contract until June 2023.

So, this all results in Oakland Roots likely having just six options to consider, and sadly none of them are strikers. We start the list with a pair of Americans:

Jack de Vries

Jack de Vries

Jack de Vries will turn 21 years old on March 28 and carries a market value of €200,000. He’s listed as a forward but has appeared mostly as an attacking midfielder and right winger throughout his career. He fits the mold of a player getting limited looks so far this season with just three appearances and one start, totaling 103 minutes thus far for Venezia’s first team. He spent 2021/2022 on their youth academy team, appearing 22 times as a starter and scored 14 goals.

He is a product of Anderlecht’s youth academy of Belgium’s first-division, competing there from 2012-2015. From there, he joined Philadelphia Union’s youth academy from 2015-2020 and made his professional debut with Philadelphia Union II in 2019-2020, making six appearances. He got the call up to the MLS with Philadelphia Union in 2020 and made four appearances but only got 15 minutes of action.

De Vries was loaned to Venezia in August 2021 and made his first-team debut in December. In July, Venezia made a move for de Vries for a reported transfer fee of $1 million. Given the Italian club made a considerable exchange for him, perhaps they still feel there’s sufficient time to develop de Vries–which makes a move to a lower Italian/European team seem more likely than a move to the states.

Patrick Leal

Patrick Leal

Patrick Leal is another American youngster and will turn 20 years old on February 21. Leal has yet to carve out a role in Europe, making just one appearance last season and hasn’t gotten any action this year for the first team. He spent his two years on Venezia’s youth program, making 13 appearances and scored once in 2021/2022 and has played just twice this season.

He’s listed as a midfielder and carries a Transfermartk value of €75,000, so there’s certainly reason to look for his development.

Leal was a member of New England Revolution’s youth academy from 2016-2017 before joining Belenenses SAD’s youth academy in Portugal in 2017-2018. He spent 2018-2021 on Sporting Lisbon’s youth academy before making his way to Venezia.

Harvey St Clair

Harvey St Clair

Harvey St Clair is a 24-year-old Scottish winger and attacking midfielder. He has just two appearances for Venezia’s first team this season after spending the previous year on loan with Serie C side US Triestina. He’s watched his market value dip to €200,000 from €500,000 in 2020.

St Clair is a product of Chelsea’s youth academy from 2006-2018. After 12 years with Chelsea, his Wikipedia indcates that he turned down a new contract and signed a four-year deal for Venezia in June 2018. From there, he’s had stints on loan with Kilmarnock of the Scottish Premiership, Seregno of Serie D, and Triestina. He’s entering the last year of his deal, which means spending his contract year on a venture to Oakland seem unlikely.

Bjarki Steinn Bjarkason

Bjarki Bjarkason is an Icelandic winger who turns 23 years old in May, and has the best name ever. He’s appeared just one time for Venezia this season and was loaned to US Catanzaro last year where he made 12 appearances and two starts. He holds a €150,000 market value and has a year left on his deal, so it’s important for Venezia to get him somewhere that will give him minutes.

He began his professional career with UMF Afturelding in 2017 and Íþróttabandalag Akraness of Iceland’s second division in 2018-2020. He signed with Venezia in 2020 and has made 15 appearances with the Italian team.

Damiano Pecile

Damiano Pecile holds Canadian and Italian citizenship and turns 21 years old in April. He’s a defensive midfielder who has a market value of €100,000 and has seemingly disappeared since coming to Italy. Aside from appearing in the first round of Coppa Italia back in August, Pecile hasn’t played a single match for Venezia’s senior roster since coming in on loan from Vancouver Whitecaps FC in May 2021.

Pecile started his career with Vancouver’s youth academy from 2015-2020 and was called up to the first team in 2020, making one appearance. He made his way to Venezia in 2021 and appeared with their U19 side, recording nine goals in 22 appearances and 21 starts.

Pecile signed a permanent deal with Venezia back in July, so there is certainly time for him to develop while under contract. For the same reason as de Vries, I’d think the club would look to loan him somewhere in Europe before sending him across the world given he’s so freshly signed. But, you never know, Mikael Johnsen also fell out of favor before making any league appearances.

Mikael Johnsen

Speaking of Mikael Johnsen, we close this list by looking into him. His contract with Venezia runs through June 2024 and includes a contract option for the following season. He didn’t get starts toward the end of last season under Noah Delgado, but perhaps an added year in the USL Championship will do well for his development. He had some good moments at left wing and lined up in the midfield. Last season marked the first time Johnsen got a consistent role in his career after getting limited looks at Feyenoord in the Eredivisie. Given he’s just 22-years-old, Johnsen could certainly use more time even if he’s competing for a spot.

In 2022, Johnsen had 24 appearances and 15 starts, recording one goal and three assists in 1,310 total minutes. However, we’re told that there is reason to believe he won’t be back in the Mosaic, but we have to at least mention him as a possibility.

Youth Academy mention: Issa Bah

Issa Bah is one of oldest member of Venezia’s youth academy and turns 21 years old in July. If Roots add a center forward from Italy, he might be the only clear option at the position on this list. Born in Guinea and a citizen of Luxembourg, Bah holds a €75,000 market value and has seen his valuation dip €25,000 since 2019.

Bah has just one appearance for Venezia’s youth academy this year after playing in 18 matches and 10 starts the previous season. Prior to arriving in Italy, he made 26 appearances for Progrès Niederkorn in Luxembourg from 2018-2021 including four appearances and one goal in Europa League qualifiers.


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