A problem associated with being an AS Roma fan is that come every season, you get excited and whisper to yourself “I feel this year is going to be the year” and things will turn around. The second problem of being a Roma fan is the usual heartbreak (barring 2000-01 season, thank you Batigol for that moment of happiness) that follows, I’m pretty sure watching them for more than 15 years has taken a toll on my health.
I digress, this year Roma via Sabatini has dipped in to the market to focus on the ‘NOW’. No more future building and hoping for success and then rebuilding. Let’s quickly recap the activity around the summer break for Roma.
I will first focus on the outs which including Nesta adoring Roman, which in its own rights has caused controversy amongst calcio fans as Justin Bieber trying to show to the world he’s a mature man (the personality similarities is purely coincidental). The failed experiment, in the form of winter signing Seydou Doumbia, has been cut short. He has been sent on loan to CSKA and from my understanding will be sold to the highest bidder (either CSKA or to a team in the Chinese league). A loss of €6-8 million is expected, an issue Sabatini is well aware of and comprehends how the fans view him. Doumbia’s strike partner, Mattia Destro is set to join Bologna. The Italian does not feature in Rudi Garcia’s plans and had not done enough last season to warrant a place to be fair, compared to the previous year, which saw phenomenal performances from the talked about front man. His transfer resulted in a cool €8-10 million pocketed by Roma. Though, Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa’s transfer to Lyon, is just an official announcement away, fans can celebrate as the club nets approximately €10 million for him.
Furthermore, as much as I would like to deny that, fellow bench warmer, controversial Alessio Romagnoli sale to AC Milan for about €30 Million hurt, I completely understand the reason behind it.
1. It’s ridiculous money for someone who would not start unless starters Manolas and/or Castan were unfit.
2. I initially had doubts over Castan but if the preseason is anything to go by (usually not in my opinion) he looks fit and ready.
3. The boy wanted playing time as well and got along with Sinsia Mihajlovic (all the more reason to hate the Serbian).
4. I genuinely don’t think he’s the caliber of Totti or Nesta. Perhaps, he does have a strong future but I am going to stick out my neck (and possibly have an egg face moment later) and say he will be good player, but not in the same category of comparisons.
Having said that Sabatini does realise Romagnoli’s sale caused a massive controversy and needs to ensure that his transfers deliver; otherwise it could be the end of it for the cigarette wielding Director of Sport.
Another Roman, who was sold to AC Milan was Andrea Bertolacci whose sale was met with less controversy (a bit like Aquilani’s). If he were to remain, he would certainly been a back up to the quality Roma’s midfield currently holds. And yes, Roma could do with the €20 Million earned. In short no matter how you look at it, Roma received approximately €50 Million for two players who did not feature in Roma’s plans last year. Holebas’ sale went a bit under the radar as he was deemed expendable in an effort by the club to search for more quality full backs. Lastly, Torosidis has been linked with Bologna for a while and come opening day I don’t expect him to be at the Stadio Olimpico either.
Now we turn to what Roma have brought in with all the money they have received/will receive (approximately €80 Million). First order of business was dealing with Cagliari. Doumbia’s fellow winter signing Victor Ibarbo just signed a yearlong loan deal for the amount of an outrageous €5 million, with an option to sign him for €8 million, if things go well. Cagliari managed to bleed Roma dry due to a certain Nainggolan being 50% owned by them. The Belgian was signed along with Falque for a total of €20 Million or for a Bertolacci (whichever way you prefer). His signing had been paramount for the fans and he immediately won them over by saying “For me it’s better to win one trophy at Roma than 10 at Juventus” (give that man a Roman citizenship). With De Sanctis getting older, Wojciech Szczęsny was brought in to provide competition and cover between the sticks. The loanee from Arsenal will most likely be starting and seemed to be a safe pair of hands till he was caught smoking in the showers which led to an eventual replacement by Petr Cech.
Messi ….. was next – Not the Argentinean but the Egyptian Messi. Mohammad Salah, in a transfer that took forever and involved legal threats, was bought for €23 million euros – 3 million loan fee + 20 million obligation to sign him next year – from Chelsea. Then came the big announcement, the Bosnian Batigol (yes that’s what I am going to refer him as) after months of flirtation was signed, the terms have been reported around €15 Million (4 towards the initial loan and 11 as an obligation) or (3 quarters) Bertolacci. Dzeko is a proven goal scorer and has been something that has been missing in the Eternal City since the great Batigol along with Er Pupone was pushing Roma to the league title. A lot rests on the capable shoulders of Dzeko.
There are talks of full backs Lucas Digne and Bruno Peres who are expected to join as both would make up for a strong defensive line which lacks two center backs as cover. Though, a lot of names have been linked with Roma, the ongoing issue of home grown players/association players suggests, no players from outside the Serie A would be looked upon. So expect a Serie A veteran to be signed.
With the transfers done and dusted, I would by lying if I were to say “I don’t feel like this could be Roma’s season.” With a supposedly weakened Juventus and the fact that new signings are able to gel together immediately, it would not be long before we see hashtags like #DaretoDzeko circulating. Gervinho finding his feet in preseason, Nainggolan confirmed as an adopted Roman, Doumbia leaving Rome, Digne almost finalised, Peres being linked and finally a Prima Punta/an Out and Out striker being brought in – there are all signs of great things to look forward to.
I wonder if it’s me being delusional or should I believe again? I’ve been hurt before, but as Totti winds down his playing career I can’t help but dream, just one last time for Il Capitano?