Totti Tuesday: The sun

Paolo Bruno

A-ha once sang The sun always shines on tv. Except when you were watching Roma-Parma on the 2nd of February. Apparently, Italy’s in the grasp of bad weather and heavy rain so I figured, with no match analysis or team news at hand, it was time to recap last month with all of Sabatini’s January signings. Clearly, Walter has been busy.

We can divide the signings into two departments: Kindergarten (Sabatini’s speciality) and immediate reinforcements. Only three men can be considered part of the second group: Brazilians Toloi and Bastos and Belgian powerhouse Nainggolan. The three were specifically picked by Garcia, they were no panic transfers but thoughtfully chosen. Toloi fills the space after Burdisso left as 3rd choice CB, Nainggolan was brought in to upgrade the midfield so that Bradley could return to the US and A and Marquinho to… Well anywhere but Rome. The speedy Bastos finally acts as a stand-in for Gervinho on LW and can also play LB since Balzaretti is still facing a long road to recovery. Easy, efficient, smart.

I don’t know much about Toloi but Milan and Fiorentina were both chasing him as well while Sabatini had his eye on him since his Palermo days. Those two facts make me feel at ease, a Thiago Silva he may be not but we can definitely use another Castan-like player since the Benatia-Castan partnership won’t make it unharmed to May (injuries, suspensions…). His ceiling could be higher than Burdisso’s, Rafael gets a chance to prove himself in Europe, the dream of many young Brazilian players I reckon. At least he’s no Loria, Guillermo Burdisso or Diamoutene right?

Bastos is quite the high-profile name in France, his numbers under Garcia at Lille were impressive and they earned him a transfer to Lyon. Even though he had a great run in the land of wine and unfaithful footballeurs et présidents, his palmares doesn’t stand out. One national cup and supercup with Lyon and a lot of bad karma: He left Lille in 2009 and they won the title shortly after his departure, Lyon won seven consecutive titles (02-08) but failed to win it since Bastos joined them. He did have a nice run in the CL in ‘09-‘10, reaching the semies. Dubious choices followed with short stints at Schalke and Al Ain (daddy got some money issues), yet his numbers weren’t that bad overal, managing five goals in sixteen games for Schalke and six goals in nineteen for Al Ain. At 30, he can bring in some valuable experience and versatility to our flanks. Rudi is a big factor in this move, just like Gervinho. If there’s on man who can get the best out of Bastos and lead him to Brazil 2014, it’s him.

Just like Toloi, he’s on loan till June with option to buy so it benefits both parties. Besides, who doesn’t want to see all-Brazilian defence one day: Maicon-Toloi-Castan-Dodo/Bastos? Throw in Taddei as a GK (he can, you know it) and we’re taking ‘sexy defending’ to an all new level here.

Nainggolan is my very own Mourinho, the Special One. I swear, Roma news has doubled, nearly tripled in Belgium since his arrival. I like. He has already settled in nicely and will continue to do so. Be aware though, Radja is a fighter and will give 100% every match but he’s no De Rossi or Taddei. He will leave Roma one day and is not gonna stay for more than three or even two years. Roma is an opportunity to show himself on the big stage but he and we know there are far bigger clubs than Roma right now. I don’t blame him since he hasn’t got any real link with the city or team. One good CL-campaign next season is all what it takes to lure Radja away from Rome if offers arrive from Manchester, Madrid or London. Don’t be sad. Until that black day, we’re gonna have a lot of fun with Radja, enjoy it.

The rest can be described as: Young, younger, youngest. Sanabria, Berisha, Marin, Golubovic… Some will join the Primavera, others could already make an impact in Italy (Sanabria, Paredes). Obviously, they need time but chances are Roma could have another Lamela or Marquinhos gem in their hands sooner than we think. Whether Roma provit from it financially or in sporting terms, it’s good business nonetheless. Thanks to Nainggolan, Toloi and Bastos, not only the future but also the imminent future is bright. Well done Walter, well done.
To end in the same fasion as I started, here’s another A-ha reference: With one game less than Juve and a Coppa semi-final on the horizon, it’s time to start hunting high and low for some silverware.

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