As some of us have noted, actual, concrete news has been in short supply lately, leaving us to roam the dark alleys of the calcio "media" (if you want to call it that) looking for something real to sink our collective teeth into.
Well, to be honest, I'm kind of tired of it. (Shocker, I know.)
So, while we're waiting for Prade to... I don't know... DO SOMETHING, I've decided to mix up the mercato monotony with something that has a little more substance. Specifically, I want to talk about someone who our beloved Giallorossi have actually signed. To that end, I've asked Brian Morse, a buddy of mine who is no stranger to blogging / writing about sports *and* who happens to be a longtime Liverpool supporter (Yes, I am friends with one of those...) to introduce us to John Arne Riise, Roma's new 6'1" left back. So anyway, please enjoy what Brian has put together, and if you post some feedback or questions in the comments section, he might just stop in and reply!
I wanted to name my first son John Arne, but my wife wouldn’t have it. That shows you what I think of the Norwegian as a footballer. After over 200 appearances for Liverpool, he no longer fit into Rafa’s masterplan, and I must say Roma are lucky to have him.
He began his career at the age of 18 with his hometown club of Aaselund in Norway, before moving to Monaco after one year of senior football. He spent three years with the French giant before a £4,000,000 transfer to Liverpool in 2001. While at Liverpool the red head (who is apparently anxious about getting his be-freckled skin burnt in the Roman sun) quickly became a fan favorite scoring 10 goals for the club during his debut season at left back. He scored 11 more goals for Liverpool during his time at the club, mostly coming courtesy of his devastatingly powerful left foot.
During his stint with Liverpool, Riise was a favorite of mine for his work rate and tenacity both on and off the pitch. He wasn’t afraid to call out club legend Jamie Carragher for saying LFC was out of the title race midway through the last campaign. Roma’s supporters will love a guy who offered up this quote to the English press in response, “We never give up. Cowards give up.” Riise also somewhat infamously had a bust-up involving golf clubs, Craig Bellamy, and copious amounts of alcohol during training for a match vs Barcelona in 2007. Both combatants ended up on the score sheet in Liverpool’s famous Champions League win.
Riise is one of those players whose name you don’t often see in the match reports and his goal production has dropped off in recent years, but that is not his true value. He has a non-stop motor on the field, never shies away from a hard tackle, and certainly isn’t afraid to get in someone’s face. With over 70 caps for his national side and over 70 appearances in European Cup play, Roma are getting a player with undeniable pedigree. Anyone who has appeared in as many important Champions League matches as Riise, should be a welcome addition to even the most prestigious of clubs.
I have to say, out of Roma's few signings during this transfer season, I like Riise the best, despite his distinct lack of Italianness. (If "Italianness" wasn't a word a minute ago, it is now.) First off, he has big huge game experience, as Brian pointed out, and I think that will go a long way toward preventing a defensive breakdown like we saw during that ugly stint last campaign. Second, I appreciate a player who's not afraid to put some artillery fire on goal from no man's land. Third... well... have you seen this guy's free kicks?
This next one includes what might just be the best thing I've ever heard an American soccer announcer say (not that that's such a great accomplishment) :
A Kraken Giallorosso? I'm all in.
Mutu = No
Baptista = Well, now that you mention it...
- OK, so Mutu is pretty much out. Finally. It's not that he's not a good player ('cause he is)... it's that this went on longer than Cheers.
- And of course, immediately after Mutu pledged his career to Fiorentina (and even just before) Baptista's name is in the spotlight... not that we didn't see this coming. The Baptista rumors have been picking up steam since the weekend, and now his agent is implying that the big news could break next Saturday. (By the way, did anybody else not know that Baptista and Cicinho are close amici?)
- Speaking of Baptista, La Gazzetta seems to think that the price of 15 million euros could drop to around 12, given The Beast's alleged affinity for the Eternal City. In the same breath, they're quick to point out that Roma "still think well" of Iaquinta, but I really think he's out of the picture. I mean... PSG is even being linked with the guy. Come on.
- Finally... and I'm only including this because we're all screaming for Prade to bring him to us: Toro Coach De Biasi is attempting to placate the situation between Rosina and the team's management, but there isn't even a whisper regarding anyone taking interest in the guy... which is a bit strange, considering the drama.
Hopefully, we'll get some real news soon.