Hindsight, as they say, is 20/20, but predicting what Walter Sabatini will do on deadline day is just plain foolish. With that in mind, take glimpse into my haphazard bon voyage to Borriello:
Ciao is perhaps one of the most useful words in the Italian language, being equal parts hello and goodbye, always informal and eminently useful. Unfortunately for Marco Borriello, Ciao, in this instance, is indicative of his uselessness to Roma. Ciao. Farewell. Auf Wiedersehen. Arrivederci. Marco Borriello's career in Roma is no more, so let's give it an official and emphatic Arrivederci!
With his move back to Genoa, one of the stranger spells in Roma history comes to an end, while one of the more interesting careers in recent Serie A history forges ahead. As you may recall, Borriello came to Roma at the start of the 2010 season, on a free loan from Milan. Free in the sense that, much like an extended warranty, the real cost is in the fine print.
Those same people who say that hindsight is 20/20 also say that English is among the toughest languages to master. But I'll say this about the language of Shakespeare, Chaucer, and Honey Boo-Boo: hello means hello and goodbye means goodbye. There's no ambiguity in that, but, thanks to the reflexive nature of the Italian language, we can still say Ciao to Marco.
So, if you'll permit me to salvage my last dash goodbye to Borriello, let's take a look back at one of the more unique Serie A careers. If you guessed that my initial intent was a rather sarcastic, tongue-in-cheek farewell to Marco, you know me too well. While he may very well be shown the door come January, I'll bet I wasn't the only one enraptured by Marco's first foray in the Roman colors. With that in mind, let's venture down memory lane.
Following that free-but-not-really one season loan, Roma were obligated to take on Borriello, lock, stock, and barrel the next season, dolling out €10m to Milan over three years. But the financial morass didn't end there, as Roma gifted Borriello a €4.5m paycheck the first year, which quickly accelerated to €5.4m per annum through 2014-2015. And were it not for Sabatini denying Lazio Fabio Quagliarella out of "spite", the club could have shed itself of that unseemly salary.
But why? Why give Marco Borriello so much in the first place? Were his 14 goals for Milan in 2009-2010 that impressive? Who in their right mind would commit that much money over that many years to a player who had spent the previous seven seasons on loan at seven different clubs?
For the answer, check out this nugget of internet glory:
Why Roma? Because they have offered to Marco a long-term project, because of the conviction and passion that were in the words of (Roma's chairwoman) Rosella Sensi, because of the opportunity to play in the Champions League
Marco Borriello. Rosella Sensi. Passion....Roma never stood a chance.
The other two factors? Well, if she somehow hoodwinked Borriello into believing Roma had a long term project in place, Brava, Rosella, Brava. Remember, this was in the Pre-Pallotta days. There was no tiki-taka, no Nike, no new stadium and no grand plans. Rosella, and, by extension, Roma, were living paycheck-to-paycheck.
So, it should have come as no surprise to anyone involved when Marco was immediately shipped out on yet another loan, this time to Juventus. But if he couldn't crack the lineup at Roma, what chance did he stand at Juventus?
His time at Juve was, in many ways, emblematic of his entire career. While he is undoubtedly a talented striker, a true number nine, in an ever-evolving game, his narrow set of skills has seen him relegated to the bench time and again.
Consider that year 2011-2012 Juventus squad: The Old Lady's leader in league goals that year was Alessandro Matri with a mere 10 goals; a good haul, no doubt, but it's not as if Marco was stuck on the bench behind Cavani or Zlatan.
The rest of Juve's scoring leaders that year included quicker, more versatile, and more complete offensive players like Fabio Quagliarella, an aging Alessandro Del Piero, and Mirko Vucinic. Marco's strength, work rate, and aerial abilities, highly valued 10-20 years earlier, simply weren't enough to cut the mustard in the modern game.
He was simply caught between two worlds; an anachronism not as talented, not as tall, not as immovable and not as clinical as Luca Toni. Stong? Sure. Good in the air? Absolutely. But possessing the necessary pace to play out wide, yet remain a threat to score, like Vucinic or Hamsik? Nope. Slow as he might be, did he have the precision and creativity to drop back and create his own offense? Again, no.
So whether it was because of those physical limitations, or simply a twist in the timeline, Marco Borriello has had an interesting career. Since turning pro in 2002, Borriello has spent 11 different stints at 10 different teams, making only 96 appearances for the two clubs that held his permanent rights, Roma and Milan. Yet, despite all the frequent moves up and down the peninsula, Borriello's antiquated skill set has persevered, to the tune of 86 career Serie A Goals over those eleven seasons, good for a goal about every three matches.
And it's that precise skill, not to mention the simple fact that he's the only healthy center forward, which will garner him any playing time this season. At this point, only two matches into the Garcia Gambit, there remains a lot of gray area in his tactical preferences. Is Totti a center forward? A makeshift left back? How many minutes does Gervinho get? Is Adem Ljajic an instant starter? Does Maicon get extra water breaks? We simply don't know.
But there is no equivocation, however, when it comes to Borriello. When he's in there, the task is simple: Get into the six and cause a ruckus.
Love him or hate him, he's here to stay...sort of. So, while we begrudgingly start the next phase of Marco's Roma career, let's remember the good times, the penalty against Lazio in the November 2010 Derby, a game winner at the San Siro against Milan, and four, count ‘em, four goals in the Champions League (remember when Roma used to play in that?).
So, pencil thin moustache aficionados, get out your number 88s and say Ciao to Marco, he might be here awhile.