Saba's Night Moves: Adem Ljajic Emerges From Erik Lamela's Dust

Marco Luzzani

Semi-breaking news...

Walter Sabatini's penchant for getting busy in the evening hours is becoming legendary: if there is one footballer within reason with which Roma can ease the pain of losing Erik Lamela....well, it is being reported they just bought him. These are beautiful words: "Adem Ljajic è un giocatore della Roma." (From what I understand, that is reliable. Messenger, etc.) They're also spectacularly misinformed words if it somehow falls through, which is also nice, but Fiorentina has been plenty vocal in their desire to cash in on Adem Ljajic before his contract runs out in the coming summer, with Della Valle saying he'll be sold within days just last evening. Sounds like 12m euros or thereabouts has done it.

From a football perspective this is at absolute worst a wash - he was better than Erik last year, Fiorentina's best at the top of the attack, and he is sublimely gifted as well. In simpler terms: if someone wants Erik Lamela for Adem Ljajic + 18m, which is what this transfer effectively becomes, you hurry to say yes before you can no longer stuff your flopping, panting tongue back in your mouth. Adem Ljajic is an excellent footballer of the same age and much greater consistency. If last year is any indication, they just improved the on-pitch product with this swap. (And yeah, Ljajic was better than the other prized jewel of Sabatini's eye, Stevan Jovetic, too.) Frankly, Tottenham should've skipped right past Erik and gone to Firenze. But no complaints.

The rest of Adem's being is the question mark and concern. Delio Rossi took the brunt of the blame for their spat/assault, and rightly so, but Adem's behavior to spark his reaction was seriously bush league. Then there's the Serbian national anthem fiasco which has seen him booted from the national team (he refuses to sing the Serbian national anthem and I am not touching anything The Artist Formerly Known As Yugoslavia with a @#$%ing ten foot pole*). Now we have this business of his contract wrangle, though plenty of footballers fail to sign an extension and much of this strikes as the Viola attempting to avoid another Montolivo situation with Milan. In fact, Fiorentina has said he's actually been a model professional. It's just...well, there's a lot of smoke in his room.

* - Though their coach is Sinisa Mihajlovic, noted buffoon. Draw your own conclusions. If anything, Adem and Francesco can form a deep bond over their distaste of him.

There are rumors that he demanded a buyout clause of circa 20m - with Milan supposedly the preferred destination, but given the laughable state of their transfer dealings...he might stay longer than Francesco's 20 years - but considering how things are going, well, Roma would be booting him next summer anyway. Everyone's effectively a loan from now on.

If true, and everything is heading in that direction, the sale of Erik is now infinitely easier to swallow and though he is a fantastic person and professional, it seems, AS Roma's football product just improved. Dry your tears.

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