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Mercato: Bring on the Melba Toast

29054.jpgBack to the best part about this gig for me: the barrage of complete bullshit which appears to be complete nonsense then occasionally turns into the real deal. Literally. And even better is this one always takes a month and is interrupted by those gamey things which, while they can be a minor nuisance, may mean something. So, a new year, a new mercato. Time for some melba toast.

* - Title could use an explanation. Back in practice/training we used to run by and through a race track which contained some horse stables. One day I was having a particularly rotten day, I took the long way and ran through the stable - when I'm in a bad mood I make things more difficult on myself, I'm sure there's some self-loathing angle in there a shrink would have a field day with - and one of the bays contained a horse named "A Toast For Melba", a name which for some odd reason brought a smile to my face. Just a great name. So now melba toast is my little euphemism for smiles (I've come to the realization I need my own dictionary for all of you, how this many people have stuck around - giving the illusion I'm somewhat readable - is a huge mystery to me). Anybody else feeling slightly less secure in their manhood by naming smiles after a blade of toast? Good. Moving on.

So bring on some smiles. Some nice acquisitions. And some juicy rumors with which to whet our appetite and warm the cockles of our cockles throughout the cold month of January.

Shopping List

I'll start out by saying I think Bruno Conti is full of manure (regarding that whoe "market is closed" thing. They made two acquisitions, and almost a third, after he said they were "done", except for the possibility of a vice-Tonetto, in the summer. And even without a similar statement in the summer, the bonanza of rumors floating around - created by the wonderful staff of aspiring fiction writers being hired en masse by The Media - would make Bruno's words hard to believe anyway.

So we go from relying on legends and future legends like Francesco Totti, Daniele De Rossi and Luciano Spalletti to relying on........Rosella. Talk about lowering your standards. That's like dating nothing but supermodels one week to setting the bar at women under 300 pounds with at least one tooth and a pre-school(ish) education. (We just eliminated the entire state of Alabama.)

The summer was a fairly good period, even though it's clear Spalletti is like a toddler with toys. He wants whatever he sees. When he finally gets it (after months of layaway payments), he decides he only likes his favorites and he sticks the rest in his toy box waiting for a sibling to come along and take his hand-me-downs.

What the MENSA crew of Rosella, Daniele, Bruno & Co. did on far-from-Scrooge-McDuck funds was pretty solid and has really gone a long way in helping the team. So I have some faith that they're still evolving and whatever is going on behind the scenes will do nothing but help the team in the spring and future. (This is the part where we all say 7 rosaries and donate 87% of our monthly incomes to the church.)

Big question is Mancini. I don't have an answer for that. I'm not even sure Mancini has an answer for Mancini. I tend to believe TGIP and Bruno when they say Mancini won't be sold during January. Despite his craptastically inconsistent form, bringing in a replacement could provide more questions than Mancini. Fitting in with the squad is one thing, as talent can mean nothing on a system-oriented team. Another is Champions League eligibility. But it does seem like the Mancini situation is far from a distraction to the team and that supercedes nearly everything during the year. There will be some massive post on the ins and outs of Mancini's psyche, dating life and fetishes at some point soon. So duck.

As far as the list goes, here's my take on the wish list Spal handed over to Rosella:

1. 2nd/3rd striker, one who can preferably get on some of the rides at the local carnival. Mirko may see a lot more time on the left soon, which is a consideration as far as a backup striker goes. In my book there's a big difference between a backup and 3rd option. A targetman would be best, and I suspect that's exactly what they'll be looking for.

Vice-Tonetto. Still doubt iTunes is looked upon highly enough to make it into TGIP's barb-wire enclosed, rottweiler-guarded Circle of Trust*. Names like Francesco Modesto are going to get brought up again, and even though Roma has 3 RBs with a couple who can switch sides, this would not surprise me in the least.

* - Spal's Circle of Trust. What everyone aspires to but only the chosen few are allowed to enter. On the outside looking in right now are: Cicinho, Espo, Barusso, iTunes, Adrian Pit and Samuel Kuffour - who has been locked in the Trigoria dungeons until his contract expires.

Gianluca Curci. Kid could use a loan. I think everyone knows that. But is there a guy Spalletti trusts enough available for vice-Doni duties? Maybe. And with the Coppa Italia being an uphill battle - potentially eliminating the only guaranteed time Curci is going to get - it could finally be time for him to start punching balls in another shirt.

Non-Mancini-impacted winger. With Espo apparently doing nothing to tingle Spal's tenderer parts, Giuly looking best in the middle, more and more defenders being used on the wing and Mirko having to fill in for Jesus Totti more often than desired, a wing purchase wouldn't being impossible.

Alessio Cerci. He's not coming back now. Nor should he. The end.

The Rumors

Paris Hilton.:
The sure thing, deal imminent.
Lindsay Lohan.: The 95%, final details in the works.
Pussycat Dolls.: Very likely, things are heading towards Paris.
Fergie.: Looks alright, but don't touch it.
Mariah Carey.: All types of insane. Doesn't even look good.
Jessica Simpson.: The 50/50.
Jamie Murray.: Just below the 50/50, might happen, but most likely will not.
Elisha Cuthbert.: A tough sell, but the right offer could seal the deal.
Ali Larter.: Very unlikely now, but come back a little bit down the line.
Keira Knightley.: Almost impossible. Almost.
Jessica Alba.: Pure fantacalcio.

Javier Saviola FW (Real Madrid):
Alright, I know I'm making this up, but it is mostly logical. Saviola is a bench player, at best, for Real right now. Hell, he's a cup player. Since November 1st he has played a whole 15 minutes in La Liga. Apparently Roma displayed interest in him during the summer but he went with Real instead for reasons unknown (cough€€€€€€cough)**. Do you think he might be receptive to a loan for the second half of the year? I'd imagine so. Yes, Roma is playing Real in the CL, but Javier is cup tied so it's not like he could come back to bite them in the ass, other than giving Roma some more options to rest players in anticipation of the Real encounters. And yes, he's another midget, but he would be a hell of an option on the left or as a forward winger at the price of a loan.

Not saying it'll happen, but I wouldn't be surprised one bit to see this come up as an option. SSR: Elisha Cuthbert

* - Yes, I'm totally dreaming of a lineup with Saviola on the left, Giuly in the middle, Espo on the right and David pulling up the rear. And they could be brought out onto the field in a special clown car just before the opening whistle.

** - Or was it Roma that turned down Saviola? If so wipe this paragraph from your minds MIB style. Or maybe it would have to do with wages. I'm still running with it.

Adrian Mutu ST (Fiorentina): He's perfect for this team. A complete dickhead, but very perfect. Even still, nothing would happen until June or later. At which point it becomes about the finances and Fiorentina's position in Europe. Til then, a whole lot of nothin'. SSR: Ali Larter

Arjen Robben LW (Real Madrid):
Cut and paste the Saviola part here, except subtract the midget thing and add in "should be housed in a special bubble at all times to protect him from himself" and knock the likelihood down a few notches.

I still don't get how this makes sense unless Rosella has been sleeping on a 600ft mound of cash underneath her mattress waiting for an oft-injured, highly skilled and rapidly balding Dutch winger to become available. I suspect she is, but for different reasons. SSR: Fergie

Fabio Liverani CM (Fiorentina):
Yup, he's one of the few which has crossed party lines, a Romanista playing for the slightly disfigured, chromosomally challenged whore of a step sister that is Lazio, but I immediately dismiss any rumor which says Roma is looking for a "vice-Pizarro" when Pizarro himself is "vice-King". So would that make Liverani "vice-vice-Aquilani"?

Seriously, do people just write shit down no matter how logical it is, or isn't? Unless Aquilani is being groomed for trequartista, possible but not probable with Simone still around, how does having yet another backup CM who won't play make sense? Except for that "free in the summer
" part. Someone fairly important would have to go or something would have to change tactically for this to make any sense. Even then, he has never particularly impressed me outside of that one thing. And I think they have enough one-trick ponies in the central midfield as it is. SSR: Mariah Carey

* - And this may be true, but how the "vice-Pizarro" thing works in baffles me. It's quite clear he's not the best option on this team.

Santiago Solari LW (Inter):
A name that makes sense except for that whole dealing with Inter thing. He's getting zero playing time up north and he'll be free in the summer. Were he to be had on the cheap, he makes sense as an alternative on the left if that's what Spalletti is looking for. Of course Moratti will probably ask for Mancini plus co-ownership of Jesus Totti in return, so who knows. Either now or later, it does make a little bit of sense. And that's rare around these parts. SSR: Jaime Murray

* - And he'd win the award for best inclusion of a WAG midseason running away. Even though it would be his sister. Which would probably make things kinda weird. (Which makes it SWAG? Sisters, wives and girlfriends? Somebody alert the British media ASAP. We've got a new acronym on board.)

** - Worst Roma transfer fact of the day, maybe century: They could be after a guy who played at a Division III college in New Jersey according to Wikipedia. How in the feck do you go from that to Real Madrid? Did he sign the same pact with Satan that Pippo did for his dating lineup?

Andrea Caracciolo ST (Sampdoria):
Here's your targetman, although it appears the media made this rumor up - or at least no one in the know has informed his agent. Makes a helluva lot of sense except for one thing: he's a complete baby. The Queen of Whining. He'll be 3rd choice, maybe 2b at the very best. He gonna be cool with that all of a sudden? He's spent the last two years with PMS which would make most women go, "oh, that's embarrassing". I'm skeptical. That aside, the Curci loan swap does make some sense provided he'd see some playing time in the ringed shirt. Too much sense, bitchiness aside, in fact; which means you can rule it out pretty much. SSR: I feel like there needs to be a category for hormonal players who would do well on the pitch but off it kill the deal. Call it the "Diva Category".
You know what.....Beyonce. (I don't get the Beyonce thing. I don't get it at all. I know I'm not the only one.)

Ragnar Sigurdsson DF (IFK Goteborg):
I thought this name was one and done, but apparently his name has been popping up in the Scandinavian media being linked with Roma again. Maybe they really like this kid? The other team being linked is West Ham. He's Icelandic. West Ham is Icelandic-owned. Any Icelandic speakers in the house which can be dispatched to Sweden ASAP to convince this kid to join Roma? Or at least just show him pictures of the last guy who spurned Champions League Roma for West Ham bucks: Julien Faubert. (Karma's a bitch, ain't it, Julien?) SSR: Jessica Simpson

Marco Amelia GK (Livorno):
Something about him scares me, it really does. Part of it is that the rest of Europe is treating him like a leper. Or he's at least like a girl who's little too eager and you have to wonder if she's angry at men and looking to spread some diseases. Another part is calling out both Roma and Lazio when he was a youth product of the better half. Who does that? Then there's the price. Yes, he's a very good goalkeeper, but he's not infallible. I'm just not convinced. Nor do I think Doni is going anywhere right now. SSR: Fergie

* - I'll do the exits at another time, but I really don't think Doni will be sold. Were Milan to come in with huge bucks I'd fly to Rome and pack his bags for him, but I doubt the hierarchy feels the same way.

Guillaume Hoarau ST (Le Havre):
Targetman du jour. 23 year old who has 15 goals in 18 games down in the French second division. The other team lusting over him besides Roma is Chelsea. Guess who's going to win that battle? Basically, if Chelsea wants him, they'll get him. If not, then it can become a legit Roma rumor. SSR: Keira