(Before I go ahead and make it official - everybody cool with officially calling him 'The Pocket Rocket'? Because he's small, he's fast and he'll undoubtedly give us short bursts of pleasure. Get back to me.)
So, it looks fairly official, after the on-and-off rumors between Barcelona and Roma, Ludovic Giuly will be announced within the next 24 hours as an official Roma player. He is in Rome as we speak getting ready for Trigoria and the Beckham-like festivities of his inaugural Roma press conference. The deal was reportedly for €3m with an additional €2m being paid to Barcelona should Roma make the Champions League next season. Apparently Barca had Jean-Michel Aulas negotiating on their behalf. Giuly will make €1.7m per season and will ink a 3 year contract, at the end of which he'll be 34. However, I'm not sure he'll be around that long. He wants to return to France, and it seemed a nostalgic return to France was his preference, but Monaco wouldn't pay up for him. Oh well. Still a quality move on very very short money. And I really hope Roma has to fork out that extra €2m for him next year (they'll figure any way to make sure things aren't simply cut and dried, won't they?).
For anyone who doesn't know about Giuly, he's a short (1.64m/5'5 - very generously), fast winger/midfielder/second striker who has played the last few years with Barca, after being a superstud in Monaco's CL Final run. He played a sizable part in Barca's CL success two years ago, so let's hope this is a continuing trend. As we all know the CL Final is being held at Stadio Olimpico in '09 and the last time Rome held the final (1983), Roma was one of the participants. Good juju. Unfortunately, it looks like Roma is building a team of international rejects, as he is firmly entrenched in Raymond Domenech's doghouse - although that typically means you're a damn good player. The reported reason for his lack of recent caps is that he supposedly sent text messages of a romantic interest to Raymond Domonech's slut wife, which is not exactly a new thing with her (which I don't get, she's got a massive schnoz). I guess he earns a couple points in my book for that. At least Mexes will have a buddy to talk shit about Domenech with now, while Mancini and Taddei cry in the corner over Dunga's apparent misconception that he was hired to coach the U-21 squad instead of the senior Selecao. Maybe Taddei isn't the type of player to be on Brazil's roster regularly, but he undoubtedly deserves one cap in his career. Mancini, however, should be on that roster more often than not.
I'll be the first to admit that I have a personal bias against Ludovic, and that I have no idea what it stems from, I've just never liked him. But I've also admitted that I felt like he would be a quality addition to the squad, but have wondered if it is somewhat unnecessary considering the limits of Roma's budget. He's a speedy runner, with dynamic bursts to goal and brings a shift in the opposition's defensive philosophy when on the pitch, but isn't that essentially what Mauro Esposito provides? Obviously Mauro is more of a pure winger, whereas Ludovic provides more versatility, but I would still like to see someone come in who was able to head in one of those crosses coming from the wing (yes, this means Roque Santa Cruz, who I will be fighting Gianfranco to the death over). Also, I would've liked to have seen someone who is a leap in class from Esposito and Taddei, rather than someone who has relatively the same level of ability. A lot of non-Romanista and people who don't watch Taddei will say Giuly is far ahead of him, but Taddei is one of the most valued and important members of the team. He has those sick futsal abilities but plays within himself and the system and doesn't go crazy unless he has to (See: Olympiakos). Esposito scored 16 from the wing. I don't care what anybody says, that's not a fluke. You have to have serious talent to do that even over just one season.
My main worry for Giuly is his age (31) and the fact that so much of his game relies on his legs, and we all know one of the first things to go with players is the speed. I think that once his huge acceleration starts to fade so will a lot of his effectiveness, but I will also admit I didn't get to see much of his at Barcelona this season, so I'm not exactly his foremost expert. My original thought is that Giuly will be used as that burst of speed off the bench in the second half when defenses start to get tired and he can really be effective. However, I would imagine Trigoria will see significant competition from Taddei, Giuly, and Esposito. I suppose two will platoon on the right mostly with one earning the back-up duties behind Mancini. Giuly can also provide more options playing just behind Totti or even subbing in for Perrotta, so he may be primarily used as a change-of-pace sub and spot starter in case of injury or when Spalletti feels like he is the right option to exploit an opposing defense. Is he the difference over a whole season? Highly doubtful. But can he make a massive difference over the course of a few games? Absolutely. (Ahem, CL)
Wherever he does play, it's obvious that the class of depth has increased considerably this season on the wings. Esposito is a much more effective player than Christian Wilhelmsson, and while Francesco Tavano is talented, he was playing out of position - a major problem for a few people at times last season. This versatility being brought in with Ludovic should be a big boost to the squad and Spalletti when he's making out his roster. Also, he didn't really cost all that much so it's a fairly good risk-reward venture for Rosella. And if he can be valuable to Roma, then I will be putting personal biases aside and waving the Ludovic Giuly flag high. Though you can be assured I'll have plenty of low blows regarding his height. I won't be able to help myself.
Definitely watch these if just to see why Barcelona signed him in the first place. He was an absolute demon for Monaco and was a big reason for their CL run until they ran into 'The Special One' and Porto in the final. And if you can't tell which one he is, he's the one who looks like a pre-schooler running by everyone. Also, let's hope that he adopts Totti's thumb-sucking celebration, I'm not sure I can handle him jumping into David Pizarro's arms (if that did ever happen, you can be assured of a joke regarding Pizarro, Giuly and a homosexual midget convention in Las Vegas - that is if I don't die of laughter). That's way too French for me. As were all the really homoerotic songs for Giuly compilations. Mexes was enough of France for me - even though he isn't bad - this is just too much.
Despite the insanely homoerotic feel of this video, Giuly had some sick goals for Monaco. I'll go wherever you will go, Ludovic. (Hit mute now, trust me)
Giuly at Barca, much much better music selection. This guy must be a hero to all aspiring athletes 5'7 and under. I've never seen more homosexual overtures for one player in my days as a Roma blogger/video researcher.
This goal is in the first compilation, but it really deserves its own video. Just an unbelievably phenomenal goal.
Homoerotic celebrations galore. Christ. It's going to be a long year.
Also, if you hadn't noticed, he likes to open up his mouth real wide. Which Laurie, the offside's resident Mom, will point out is also laced with homosexual innuendo. This signing is just one big fruit-fest. I feel like I should be wearing assless chaps and listening to Coldplay.
* - The last two battles of the GHD Round 2 (including Totti) will come a bit later as well as the rest of today's news, notes and useless nonsense.