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Roma After A L*zio Fan? Say It Ain't So

0jhzwipr-346×212.jpgIn my haste to get out the column yesterday while news was still relevant, I neglected to give much though to the Emiliano Moretti rumors. After much though I have reconsidered. And by 'much thought' I mean direct statements from his brother and agent. Here's what fratello Moretti had to say regarding Roma's interest:

"Emiliano is definitely part of Roma’s plans and is highly considered by Coach Luciano Spalletti," said the player’s brother and agent Andrea Moretti to Radio Radio.

"He is certainly not on a plane towards Italy, but a move to the Giallorossi is an option that every once in a while is mentioned. We are obviously flattered by Roma’s interest, they are an important club and it is Emiliano’s hometown. I know there have been conversations between the two sides in the past."

“For the time being it isn’t easy to sign players who appear in La Liga. Emiliano is worth £6.5m [€9m] and Valencia will only sell him on a permanent basis.”

So apparently my thoughts on calling it nearly implausible weren't so correct, which happens every once in a sentence. I still feel €9m may be a bit steep for Moretti and I do tend to doubt Roma are willing to shell out that kind of money on him unless they've abandoned all hopes of Cicinho and/or The Grand Imperial Poobah says that he is a mandatory purchase and will live with Marco Cassetti backing up Christian Panucci next year. Many people will make the argument that Asier Del Horno is the better buy of the Valencia left sided fullbacks. At €3m less and still a massive upside at 26 years old, he seemingly represents a better value, if not a better player, at the moment.

What I know of Moretti is that he is closer to your typical fullback than an attack-minded wingback, unlike most of the name's linked to Roma during the summer. He also spent some time at CB last year, with some seemingly rave reviews, so he is certainly not lacking in the defensive department (ahem, Cicinho). This could be a nice contrast to Max Tonetto, who had a great season last year, but spent most of his career as a winger rather than a defender. So he's not exactly your lockdown defensive type. The addition of Moretti would allow for the Grand Imperial Poobah to choose accordingly based on matchup. If he wants some width and pace on the flank to attack against a weaker side, call up Max. If he is going up against a very strong team in the Champions League or such, then bring in Emiliano. Options are always welcome.

However (big however), here's the kicker: he was born and raised in Rome, but he chose to take the path to the dark side and is a Lazio fan. Which has caused a minor uproar amongst the tifosi. As far as I'm concerned, there is no such thing as fence hopping. You're either one or the other, there's no in between. If Moretti lands in Rome I don't expect he would show anything less than 100% professionalism on and off the field - even during the derby. He has much to gain playing in Rome and I would think that factors in (namely an Azzurri spot). But no thank you. I want no part of a kid who grew up idolizing the sky blues.

* - There have certainly been childhood Lazio fans to pull on the colors, especially in the youth ranks. Not to mention other players at other clubs who have made the switch to an arch-rival upon signing their first professional contract and achieving somewhat icon status (Michael Owen at Liverpool comes to mind, boyhood Everton fan).

Your Daily Cicinho Update:

So Roma bypassed ole Bronzy balls and started dialing up Predrag Mijatovic to start working out the deal for Cicinho. However, due to Rafa Benitez sticking his nose where it isn't wanted, the price has now jumped up to a firm €12m. Way more than he is actually worth and €2m more than Roma is ready to offer. Other reports are stating Real Madrid are waiting to acquire names such as Michael Ballack, Arjen Robben, Royston Drenthe and Wesley Sneijder before selling Cici. Now, Drenthe I can see, but what do the rest of those names have to do with a fullback spot? Though I would love to see the experiment that asks Robben to defend. That'd be like asking Robert Downey Jr. to stay sober. It's bound to be a train wreck in the long run.

At this point Roma has to be hoping Cicinho pulls a Chivu and forces his move to Rome, although Madrid has much more leverage in this case than Roma did.

The News & Notes:

A lot of people seem to be waiting on my fiery rant on all things Danny Szetela, but they're going to have to wait. It's not official yet, and is being denied by Szetela's camp, as well as nary a word arriving from Roma - or the Italian media for that matter. Which means I'm not buying whatever is selling. My feeling is he'll wind up at Lazio, much to my great delight. They have been the ones hard after the him and the ones with all the pub saying they want him bad. I'll need to see the official announcement before I believe this one, and I'm not holding my breath. Quite simply, AS Roma is better than signing Danny Szetela, free transfer or not.

And game or CV aside, I want nothing to do with a kid who's decision making skills allowed him to pick the divine Shep Messing as his agent, who is tied for the most idiotic man in sports broadcasting with the entire ESPN soccer crew (captained by Eric "I Have the IQ of a Down Syndrome Baboon" Wynalda, of course). With that kind of mental acuity it'll be a fuckin' miracle if he shoots towards the correct goal.

Guess who's back? No really. Guess who? Jeremy Mathieu is back. According to newspapers filled with Frenchness, Roma has yet again called up Toulouse feeling them out on their big French fullback. This time Toulouse was more receptive to Daniele Prade's offer of a pack of Juicy Fruit and an autographed Ma$e CD (old Mase, the good stuff - Prade doesn't fuck around). However, they want to wait until after they are bent over and beaten savagely by Rafa Benitez and his band of merry (drunk) Scousers - because this one might as well be a friendly for them. So the second leg will take place August 29th, which will give the two clubs roughly 48 hours to hack out a deal they haven't been able to close in about a year. Sounds promising.

As Inara pointed out, if Mathieu plays for Toulouse in their "games" against 'Pool, he will be ineligible for Roma during the Champions League, which isn't exactly an appealing proposition. However, it should be said that both Juan and Matteo Ferrari are capable of slotting out left, even if neither are ideal, in emergency type situations. Ferrari less so than Juan, who has been said to have similar abilities out left as some Chivu character who may or may not have played football at one point in time. Maybe. So it is possible The Grand Imperial Poobah considers this while he lusts after Mathieu, who has been on his man crush acquisition agenda for quite some time now.

* - Thanks to the first sentence up there I now have the Welcome Back, Mr. Kotter theme song stuck in my head. It's going to be a good day.

Pascal Chimbonda is being floated about a little more. If the rumors of CSKA London offering up 10m GBP and having it turned down then there is about as much a chance of Roma landing Pascal as Scott Baio does of landing an Oscar. Or a quasi-respectable gig.

It's so close to the season that I'm going to start crowning "my boy" status to certain players. Guys that, if they fall flat on their face you can feel free to give me complete hell about, but I'm going to wave their flag as high as it gets. Let's call them The Anti-Chippens. Daniele De Rossi and Francesco Totti have far eclipsed this status, and they are both largely without fault, so don't you dare say such slander. The first nomination is another obvious: Alberto Aquilani. If he isn't handed a starting spot by the end of the year, I will be marching to Rome and stage a one man coup at the Olimpico. I don't care if they find a way to get he, De Rossi, David Pizarro and Simone Perrotta on the field at the same time (a 4 man central midfield is the new catenaccio - just like Inter is the new gay). Just do it.

And yes, by the end of the year the entire team outside of like 3 guys will be considered "my boy."

For all you gambling addicts who are currently being sought out for their debts by bookies who pretend to be Sopranos characters when they're really as harmless as David Pizzaro in an aerial battle, your favorite day of the year has arrived. They have announced the odds for next years Capocannoniere. You know the season has arrived when bookies start emerging from their underground caves to take bets on things like how many goals will Totti score. Or how many ass slaps will Spalletti hand out to Taddei throughout the course of the season. Or how many Florentine housewives will Bobo Vieri impregnate. Or how many times will the media call Adriano fat (+/- 1 bazillion).

As for the top scorer odds, the obvious #1 is Totti, but he's tied with that Ronaldo fellow at 7.50. Which comes as nothing of a shock to me. One of the scariest questions is how high is the ceiling of a fully motivated Ronaldo who has recently been hooked up to the rejuvenation machine in Milan. I wouldn't put 25-30 past him this year. Totti? 23. Only because he's bound to get a little more rest this year with an improving Mirko Vucinic and the fact that Roma could (will) advance further in the Champions League this year.

The rest of the odds for the gambling junkies amongst my readers. And I'm laying 100,000 to 1 that Igor Budan scores more goals than Fab Quags, Adrian Mutu, Pippo, Vincenzo Iaquinta or Kaka.

Max Tonetto has agreed to a two year contract extension. Good stuff.

The ladies over at forza Philippe Mexes have taken to drawing up a multi-language petition to get Roma to get off their duff and improve the website (notably to add an English, much too the delight of many people here. So if you haven't done so yet, sign the petition here.