You know, I could sit here and spout out useless crap about Vitorino Antunes - Vitorino Gabriel Pacheco Antunes to be exact - because I'm not sure anyone knows anything whatsoever about Paços de Ferreira (that's his club), but I won't go that route. Here's what I know: he's young (20), he's a left-back, he already has a senior Portugal cap (along with a plethora of U-21's), and he's highly coveted - by some big names, and some good names, and some 'mediocre at best' names. Deep breath, and...Aston Villa, Middlesbrough, Man City (alright, maybe I made that one up but it's totally plausible), Shahktar Donetsk, AJ Auxerre, Atlético Madrid, F.C. Porto, S.L. Benfica, Deportivo La Coruña, Sporting C.P., Livorno, Vicenza and Juventus (yeah, I totally cut and pasted most of that list from wikipedia, and guess what? I don't give a damn).
Alright, high demand is a good thing, even if that's not exactly a G14 summit we're talking about. Still, a lot of highly respected squads on that list - particularly Atletico, Porto and Benfica - and one which should be highly respected but tends to, um, cheat (just guess). Anyway, here's what uefa.com has to say about him (and they typically have decent scouts doing the write ups):
Antunes is a gifted defender with an exceptional left foot. Most comfortable at full-back, he enjoys getting forward and poses a threat from dead-ball situations.
• Joined FC Paços de Ferreira from SC Freamunde in 2006 and enjoyed a fine debut season.
• Antunes played 23 matches and scored three goals as the club finished sixth and earned a first UEFA Cup campaign.
• Picked up four yellow cards and one red this season.
So he's an offensive leftback, good from set pieces and sounds like he can put in a damn good cross (if I'm interpreting "exceptional left foot" correctly). To sum it up: sounds like a Spalletti guy. Plus, he would be relatively cheap (reportedly valued around only 2m, which seems to be a pretty decent price for Portuguese Liga Defenders Not Being Sold To Real Madrid these days). Hey, if he's that cheap, and is supposedly a very decent prospect, the worst thing that could happen is he sucks in games where he can afford to suck in and is loaned out in January or next summer to not suck so much. And this is where the option of keeping Marco Cassetti is hugely valuable. While he may not be ideal, he's at least another quality body that can plug holes.
As I mentioned yesterday, I kinda like this type of move for a vice-Tonetto. With the arrival of Cicinho, there are now 4 fullbacks on the roster, but 3 primarily play the right - that is when the defensive depth chart doesn't resemble Kate Moss. If a young, talented LB is brought in to fill in on the left in games that kinda matter, but not really, then that leaves Christian Panucci and Cassetti to fill in on the left should something happen to Max Tonetto. Is it better than Francesco Modesto, Asier Del Horno (not happening, on loan to Atletico Bilbao) or Jeremy Mathieu? No, but that brings up another, well played out theory: Jeremy Mathieu is being targeted to sign on a free next spring/summer.
The arrival of a Del Horno-type or Modesto would certainly make Roma a little less appealing to Mathieu, even if he is a jack-of-all-trades. The option of having a Marco Andreolli-like talented but not getting important playing time guy to back up Max does sound like a decent, if imperfect fit. Obviously this begs the question: what happens if Max goes down for an extended period of time? But we don't like to think about that stuff here. So no, from that aspect I don't like that one bit, but in a perfect world I do.
Anyway, does it happen? Not a damn clue. Seems like a Roma move, though.
* - Also, channel 4 describes him as a "protagonist" which is great for both Roma and myself, as I'm currently in the market to acquire a Rodion Raskolnikov for the book I'm writing.
The Requisite Vid:
This is also great because it gives another option to take free kicks apart from the 47 already on the roster.
Aleandro Rosi On Loan To Chievo:
Alright, so maybe it's not that big a deal, and is a good move for the kid in the long run. Then why does it get its own little sub-story here? Because of this: Chievo has the right to buy him at the end of the year. Is Roma seriously giving up on Aleandro already? The Grand Imperial Poobah seems to really rate the kid, the scouts rave about him, and he has been tipped to form the Roman core of the club in the future. Of course, I'm not sure how much Chievo actually has the right to buy him for. If it's 10m then I won't question the move, but I seriously doubt it's approaching anything remotely close to that. I don't like this, I don't like this one bit.
I) Apparently who ever wrote "Shabani Nonda is working out the final details of a contract to move to Qatar" meant Turkey. Either that or they use the same map as this girl.
Anywho, it appears Shabs is close to a deal with Galatasaray, which is great for him because it's obviously a good place to get his career back to full steam and get some Champions League time while he's at it. No clue how much the transfer will net Roma, but I can't imagine it would be life-changing.
II) Now that Toulouse has been mercifully dismissed from the Champions League at the hand of the EPL's Spanish Armada, those Jeremy Mathieu rumors have been circulating. Today being August 29th, the day mentioned continuously in connection with Mathieu talks resuming, as well as being The Greatest Day in the History of the World (minus that whole Hurricane Katrina thing). Does it happen? Very unlikely. He's cup-tied and he can be had for free next spring, not to mention Toulouse probably holding steadfast in their asking price. It's not all that logical. Not that that has ever stopped Rosella.
III) I'm going to go ahead and say Marco Cassetti blames this part of his life on drugs, alcohol or being abducted by aliens and being forced to look like this.
IV) Gilmar Veloz, superagent to Mancini, is in town and the extension talks should resume once Roma has wrapped up the mercato. Of course Lyon and Bernard Lacombe didn't get the memo, apparently.
So BL has been spewing a bunch of BS about how Mancini has actually agreed to a deal with Lyon, which makes about as much sense as AIDS on a Tuesday. Does Mancini really want to take a step down in play? Move to a club that almost definitely won't pay him more than Roma? Move his Romanista wife/fiance away from home after she said she wouldn't leave? Leave a club that is obviously on the up to go to Lyon, a club that has struggled in a lesser league this year? We all know Mancini can be kind of a flake, but this is idiotic even by his standards. I think Lacombe is just making shit up. In fact, I'm sure of it.
V) More transfer news that make kinda not so much sense: Roma is interested in Thiago Motta, along with half the world. I'm a Thiago fan, but at this point in the mercato, why is he being considered if he isn't a left back, unless they are planning on loaning out Ahmed Barusso. I don't know. He supposedly already has an agreement with Inter for a contract, but Barcelona didn't like Moratti's offer much at all. Welcome to doing business with the always classy Massimo Moratti. Anyway, I strongly doubt this happens.
* - I do know he can play on the left side, so I suppose he could be considered a vice-Tonetto, but I've been under the impression he strongly favored the defensive mid position. Could be wrong. Probably am.
VI) Lazio once again has proven to be a quality representative for Lega Calcio. Stay classy, Biancocelesti. Stay classy.
Giallorossi On Loan:
I figured it would be prudent to give weekly updates on the performances of Roma players out on loan this season. Here goes:
Vincenzo Montella (Sampdoria): L'Aeroplanino scored a goal in his Sampdoria return. We hope for many many of those, provided none come against Roma (and another 4 against Lazio would be greatly appreciated). It's a good start, but so wasn't his debut at Craven Cottage, so we shall see. But he returns to 'Doria as he left, scoring goals. Atta boy.
Ricardo Faty (Bayer Leverkusen): Still yet to make his debut.
Stefano Okaka Chuka (Modena): Came on in the 56th minute for Modena over the weekend in their 3-0 win. No goals, but all 3 goals came after his entrance. Let's hope those are directly related (I suspect they might be).
Alessio Cerci (Pisa): Played for 65 minutes before being subbed off, but had a cheeky pass to assist on the first goal - with Pisa winning 2-1.
Simone Palermo (Rimini): Did not play against Bologna.
Valerio Virga (Grosetto): Came on as a substitute in the 30th minute in Grosetto's 3-0 loss to Okaka's Modena.
Daniele Magliocchetti (Cagliari): Did not play in the 2-0 win over Napoli, and I suspect you'll hear a bit of that this season.
Keivan Zarineh (Cisco Roma): Wasn't even on the pine for a Serie C2 squad. Next Luca Toni, eh?