We're now entering the nights Walter Sabatini spends eleven-plus months dreaming of, coughing up ash while shouting names of South American preteens and bargain internationals in his sleep. This is Saba Season. When the man's got four cell phones on each ear and twice as many cigarettes in each of his orifices. (Don't do it.) Now that we're in countdown til September 2nd, Walter's sweet spot, we'll do a quick rundown of where the squad might be rshuffled from here til the end of Saba Season.
(Do note it's Walter Sabatini: Roma could swap out an entire team bus by the time you get to the bottom - his night moves know no end.)
Erik out, Adem in.
Sir Nutella Face will reportedly be in Rome today for his medical. This is wonderful. All I really care about is that he has a well-documented affinity for Nutella, which means I can pair my pre-game crepes in honor of Rudi with some delicious hazelnutty-mocha-y spread and eat my uber-American 2.5" thick crepes (I'm working on it) as a delectably Roma-centric snack, after which I'll eat the rest of the jar with a spoon for Adem. In my boxers. Sprawled on a cream couch. Not a word of which is a lie and I can only somewhat pull off and not seem a complete slob because I'm in better shape than Maicon. Which...uhhh...err...well that doesn't really say much. Actually, if they really do tank this season, I hope they go all the way and Ljajic and Maicon* show up after Christmas break in such poor physical shape they're forced to hire Adriano as a nutritionist. Go big or go home. Go big and go home? I don't know.
* - Maicon would still be brilliant, just extra tubby.
Anyway you cut it, Erik Lamela for Adem Ljajic + 17-20m is a really solid deal. If they had to sell Erik (not quite sure they did, but we won't go there), this certainly eases the suffering a great deal. Once both deals are completed, this is a wash and Walter can work on his next move while wearing rollerskates, a 70's suit with the top four buttons undone, four foot-wide lapel, while a cigarette dances to the beat of The Bee Gees' Stayin' Alive between his lips.
It should also be mentioned Adem appears to sweat quite a bit, judging from photos, more so than your average athlete (see: Nutella), so this should go down wonderfully with the new, unbranded kits, which are actually constructed of 2% polyester, 98% spring water, if the rate at which they saturated during the preseason is any indication. Looking forward to Adem waterboard himself every time he breaks into a moderate sprint.
Next on the list is a central defender. Rumors have swirled Rudi Garcia isn't convinced by Leandro Castan, thus names like Mamadou Sakho, Davide Astori, and that dude from the place with the other people - you know - are slapping their typography in your morning peepers. There are reports both PSG and Cagliari have been tossed offers of 8m - only Davide would be on co-ownership. Does Cellino want to work with Roma again? Is Astori twice as good as Sakho? (No, but he's substantially better - and he's not even a stud.) Who the hell knows.
Given Roma punted a CB to Paris earlier in the summer, one would think this lends some credibility to the theory Rudi's not thrilled with Leandro after watching him over months, or else Sakho would've been considered a makeweight. Just a hunch. Or maybe he was attempting to show off his defensive skills while Saba was in Paris and he kicked him in the face instead and Walter now has long-term memory issues. Also plausible.
Something will happen here. Most likely it will involve Nico Burdisso leaving Rome in a body bag when no one wants to eat his contract.
Ale Matri. Bafe Gomis. Oh dear god.
At this point, Roma's staring down the barrel of Marco Borriello and a crippled Mattia Destro, still focusing on running, trimming his beard with an eye patch, and running music selection for the Roma Channel, calling Rihanna a "lyrical genius" in the process. Kid's busy. We know they want to move Marco, which means with Pablo gone, as well as Erik, they need some goals from somewhere. Thus a proper striker.
One, Matri is a decent enough footballer and employable - that said, his best asset is his arm candy and would undoubtedly require the sale of Marco Borriello first - but incredibly uninspiring as a prospective purchase (sounds perfect for Milan) and there is no reason - none at all - to actually spend money on Gomis, whose wages are higher than Marco's anyway, I believe. Oh, and Roma's perpetually waiting out Chelsea, ensuring they don't offload Demba Ba without Walter being allow a sniff. Loved Ba at Hoffenheim (tall, lanky strikers with technique - love 'em), but watching him in the Prem one wonders if he'd be closed out by the more learned and wily defenses of Serie A - and that's genuine.
It seems highly unlikely Roma wants to begin the season with any form of crippled Destro, Borriello, and Totti false LWB/CF/whatever. The front three will largely prove interchangeable on the pitch and thus positioning will be fluid, but they're going to need a body settling down and making a home in the box sooner or later - the midfielders can't score 'em all, even if Florrest is split wide in the tridente much of the time. One would think if those extra monies from Erik's sale are going back into the mercato, striker it shall be.
And if we're lucky, it'll be someone who's actually compelling.
Whether or not they plan to sell them, both Michael Bradley (Sunderland) and Marquinho (Juventus, Inter*) have been fielding offers and/or interest. They won't net Coco money, but as James has said: everyone has a price. Wide Right is the most likely sacrifice, but either sale would require more depth being purchased.
* - For the love of Francesco, someone just stick him in the middle of the pitch and zap him every time he takes a shot from distance so that by October, all he does is run into the box. Christ, he'd be capocannoniere. Those names aren't a mistake - someone can unlock those brilliant runs permanently. Maybe. Probably not. [Long sigh.]
There are completely false rumors Rodrigo Taddei is being pushed out the door. This I maturely refuse to acknowledge, much like Simone Perrotta's extra long vacation.
Obviously Dodo would seem to be a candidate for a loan as he's a sieve who should be playing many minutes for a club much lower in the table. However, that's not really featured in any papers; rather, another deal with Tottenham - really losing a lot of love for Franco - is being mentioned. Well... it's hard not to want anyone with working limbs over 2012-13 Federico Balzaretti. They can't do better than Benoit Assou-Ekotto, though, can't they? (And that fucking mustache. How can you sell that?)
I will say, however, one of my favorite sport interviews of all-time came via Benoit. A refreshingly bold, truthful, and unabashed outtake on the motivation of the modern athlete; one shared by a silent majority, undoubtedly. No shame in running him out in one's colors. Just...that mustache for those corn-rows? Does hair not factor into any of this?
One dark horse move: Torosidis. This is a World Cup year and with Tin Jedvaj seemingly getting long looks at rightback in preseason, not his natural position, and performing, at the very least, well enough to provoke intrigue, there is every reason to believe Toro could ask for a move before the mercato is out. Greece is looking solid in qualifying to at least have a shot at Rio and he'll want fitness both for qualifying and the possible trek to Saba's hunting ground. He's definitely the backup right now, and might even be further down the pecking order. His versatility does have value, but Roma certainly doesn't need him. Watch this space.
So, to summarize...
And once Walter is done, lock him in a basement until 2015. The mercato's been decent enough on the whole, but even nicer would be a cohesive squad and some continuity. This annual overhaul is getting ridiculous.