All I want for Christmas is my two front teeth; is that too much to ask? But given the state of orthodonture of a Nico Lopez-less Roma at current, this would seem a rather unnecessary outlay. So I suppose I have to wish for something else. Like a pony. Or Fabio Simplicio to burst out of the tunnel on derby day eating a jelly glazed with purple goop running down Roma Cares. Yeah, that one.
More realistically, this club needs to tighten up the second shift. It's a bit like a strip club which spent all its cash on the top tier talent and left the Tuesday afternoon squad to be filled out by a leper colony (kisses, Dodo). Of prime importance is finding someone to fill in as vice-Miralem, and had I paid attention in church or not napped through theology in high school, I'd probably have a saint to compare him to here to follow His Tottiness' visions, but as it were, I'm stuck at Laurent. Boo.
Though it's become an exercise in repression, we've seen what Roma looks like when Miralem is forced away from his customary seat ahead of Daniele and to the right of Kevin. No one wants to see that. Michael Bradley has some things to offer, but none of them are in the same vicinity as an uber-technical playmaker who could realistically replace Xavi someday, not just in the delusions of that redneck you know from Alabama. In short: the system shuts down and the club suffers when Miralem isn't in his happy place.
Enter the club's primary need: vice-Miralem. Something silky, something elegant, something technical, and something with vision.
Why Don't You Love Me
Everyone wants a spot at the World Cup. You want one. You're not getting one. Javier Pastore wants one, and he might get one. Problem is Javier's played 458 Ligue 1 minutes for Paris St. Germain this year, with a whopping 16 in the more demanding Champions League - and those against Anderlecht. Statistically, Laurent Blanc doesn't appear to be a fan. Having watched many of those minutes, Blanc's not wrong: Javier is PSG's Robinho.
Back when Qataris first bought the club, they had to make a Marquee Move. You know, drum up interest, hit some headlines, make some male panties drop, and the best way to do that is throw cash around like it's a hip hop video. "We're serious. Swear. See? SEE? WE'RE SERIOUS. TOLD YOU WE'RE SERIOUS." So they broke the French record with forty-ish million (forty-three, reportedly) euros for their Marquee Move. Much in the same way a gifted attacker went to Manchester for a premium - can we call this a Robinho Tax from now on? - upon the change of ownership, Paris got its own and Javier got a nice fat contract.
Things haven't gone spectacularly for Javier. Yeah, he's got a title, and he's hardly destroyed his career, but his stock has gone from new Zidane to, well, the new Robinho. Maybe it was always a little high, and certainly no one was coming within five million of that 43m valuation, but he's not been the Palermo Pastore, a player whose pricetag was equal promise and production. But he's still only 24 and more than gifted enough to warrant superstar status some day.
Most years, this is a ludicrous idea, but in case you hadn't noticed, Roma's rather good these days and Walter Sabatini loves to resample his former pupils. Oh, and Pastore's been linked. Oh, and Pastore definitely wants to guarantee himself a ticket on the ferry to Brazil. His best chance is likely a move somewhere other than Qatari Moneybags FC. That's enough for me.
Despite the gulf in attack recently, Roma doesn't really need padding at the top; it needs a fucking bubble into which they can place their forwards so they all stay healthy. More realistically, they need someone to fill in behind Pjanic and, to be fair, someone versatile enough to allow Florenzi into midfield so they have a superior midfield backup; Javier kills two birds with one stone.
Basically, he fits. Though so wouldn't a lot of people. Rudi's flexible like that.
Ooh La La
Hi, I like my things elegant and silky and technically flawless and preferably imported from France, I don't mind paying the premium. Bring me something that could dance me a ballet on a stage of grass against men who think stepovers are the pinnacle of refinement. There is a certain something to marrying form and function; Javier, given their needs, serves as bride, groom, and priest - especially when sporting that little hair bun. There's something about looking at the mantle while poking the fireplace here. Well fuck yeah I can see the mantle when it's on television - give me something pretty to look at. [Obligatory Michael Bradley-as-vice-Pjanic reference.]
Obviously, Paris St. Germain, despite proving they have more money than sense (that's not to say they don't have any sense, they're just filthy @#$%ing rich), won't want to take a massive hit on Javier. A loan would probably do fine for all parties, considering they do have ample depth as well as the fact they probably can't walk into a transfer window without buying something, but that buyout clause is going to be substantial. Early rumors have Roma offering 13 million - the Pjanic deal made them greedy when shopping in France - and Paris wanting a minimum of 25 million. Even Nelson Mandela wouldn't dare enter those peace talks. One would assume unless they move some contracts, Roma will also want PSG to scarf some of his salary - they don't have CL football just yet. So either Roma begins to assess his valuation accordingly (he's much closer to Paris' idea), or they rehire Daniele Prade and get him for five million euros, three used car rims, a Winnie the Pooh lunchbox with a half-sandwich leftover from Pantaleo Corvino and an 18.9% hit on his next transfer fee. (Who am I kidding...Corvino's never left a sandwich unfinished.)
There was a line used throughout Mirko's tenure in Roma, and it can simply be summed up as his making the matches more watchable. There was an entertainment factor to his game so absent with all but Francesco; a similar genius, but a mad genius, thus more fleeting. Always a looming aura that the spectacular could happen at any moment, as it often did. In much the same way Mirko scooted us to the front of our chairs, Javier does too. There is a similar feel when Pastore is on the ball, but his anatomical makeup is such that every movement oozes with the style and class of the most sophisticated refinement. It could be said a player like he belongs in Paris, but I think it's quite clear: he doesn't belong in Paris. Rome will do just fine, then.
Tactical Sense: 7.5 He is not a pure Pjanic replacement, but enough of many things that he fits in well within the squad at Rudi's disposal; one who would effectively end Borriello's chance of playing for Roma beyond January provided Mattia Destro has working limbs again. This would be a squad move of the highest order.
Financial Sense: 5 Depends. Outside of moving some ageing leftovers, PSG hasn't proven itself to be a Typical Big Club willing to shove off their poor investments at substantial losses simply to clean out the crib (they lost roughly one million on Kevin Gameiro and dumped Lugano who was only a 3m euro purchase himself). A short-term loan likely wouldn't destroy the bottom line, but one imagines this would be with an eye to the long-term, which means this would not be a cheap move. But outside of completely blowing up both fullback slots - Abner's on the way - and finding out if Alessio Jedvaj is (are) any good, what does Roma really need in the near future? The non-Totti core is good, young, and outside of Pjanic, locked in. This is their push. They're not going to get another 10-2-0 start anytime soon.
Chemistry: 9 Say it with me: Serie. A. Experience. Plus he's a pacy, technical, pass-heavy attacker who can play left, right, and center, back or front - Rudi will be crawling into his bed at night whispering "My dear, sweet Eden, you've returned to me." for the first two weeks. Combine the two and once Javier learns to accept his new identity, Roma's golden.
Probability: 4 Lots of clubs will want to take a stab at someone of Javier's promise and football-as-sex playing style - Liverpool and Arsenal have been linked as Arsene Wenger clearly uses purchasing attacking midfielders as some maladapted coping mechanism for his various insecurities and anxieties. So for Roma, this is a tricky move. But if someone can reclaim Javier's promise, would you bet against Rudi after what he's done with Miralem and Gervinho? It's a difficult, potentially expensive gamble, but dear me the ceiling is high.
The only possible downside to this deal comes in that the day I see Pjanic, Totti, Ljajic and Pastore slinging a ball to one another on a 4 v 2 break, I'm going to die from overstimulation and frankly, I have things to live for. If not, just bring me Ibra and an estate lawyer - I'll be dead before the PDF.