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Mercato Report Card

14788_hp.jpg(If you're sexy and you know it clap your hands)

Despite the relative lack of funds, Roma was one of the busiest clubs in Serie A during the summer, with a massive influx of players and the loss of only a couple players who may have fit into the squad this year. So here are the final grades, and it looks like the management did a pretty good job this summer. Yeah, apocalypse inevitable. Onto the grades:

Transfers In

Juan (Bayer Leverkusen): Despite the fact that he has only player a handful of minutes thus far, he is the buy of the summer for many a Giallorossi fan. For a few, he is the reason Chivu was deemed expendable. Basically handed over on a silver platter by old boy Rudi Voller for a paltry €6.3m, he will likely have the most impact in the squad out of any of the buys this summer over the life of his contract. Yeah, even more than that other Brazilian defender. Grade: A

Cicinho (Real Madrid): It took an act of Congress to get him from the Jaws of Life grip Real had on him, but The Grand Imperial Poobah finally got his Brazilian. The price was relatively fair, and Roma was able to get Mijatovic & Co. down from their moderately absurd valuation (as is usually the case). Still, he's a little imperfect and coming off a year derailed by a major injury. It'll take a little while to see how much value Roma will get for the price. Grade: B+

Ludovic Giuly (Barcelona): The French Pocket Rocket has already begun to show his worth filling in for Simone Perrotta, and displayed his greatest trait: being just an all-around annoyance for opposing defenses. Which is a far cry from Christian Wilhelmsson last year, who was an all-around annoyance for Roma. Lulu Gulu has scored his first goal and will score plenty in the Champions League. For €3m, a great value purchase. Grade: B+ (Could easily eclipse this but due to his age the biggest question will be how his speed holds up over the course of the season, so we're keeping it conservative for now)

Mauro Esposito (Cagliari): Somewhat incomplete at the moment, but the form of Lulu Gulu and Mirko Vucinic ascending to Mancini backup has turned Espo's uphill battle into climbing K2. Last year was largely lost due to injury, and this year is starting out no better. Two years ago he was It, and he'll need to really earn his way back to that type of status. Still, on a relatively cheap co-ownership he's a gamble more than worth taking. Grade: B

Adrian Pit (Bellinzona): He was on a free, which is nice. But he signed a one year contract after spending the last few years in the Swiss Mentally Challenged League. Quite strange. Anyway you look at it, he should have been loaned out. He has a long way to go before being Roma caliber with adequate experience. Hard to argue against a free and the scouts have been right on more than one occasion, so I'll give him the benefit of the doubt. Grace: B-

David Pizarro (Inter): €12m for a bench player. €12m. (Feel free to insert a reference to any prison gang rape scene here) Grade: F--

Mirko Vucinic (Lecce): Steep price, but his talent could have easily dictated much more. He has been kind of hit or miss thus far on the left wing, but now that Il Capitano has only Mirko behind him, it's fair to say Mirko will get about 10 or so starts up top this year, and how well he performs there will largely dictate a lot in the future of the club. Let's face it, in 2 years if Mirko progresses as expected, the one striker system will probably have to go. Grade: A-

Keivan Zarineh (Rieti): Free transfer, which is good, but the next Luca @#$%ing Toni had an awesome record of 9 goals in 2 years in Serie C2. And he's 22. Now he's learning the way from Paolo Di Canio at Cisco Roma. Basically, everywhere you look there's a red flag. Grade: D+

Julio Sergio (FA): Most people forget his contract ran up last summer. Well, he's a good third keeper and a good guy in the locker room. But that's not what's important: he played a large role in convincing Cicinho that Rome was the only place for him. With his miniscule salary, that's what you call bang for you buck. Grade: A-

Ahmed Barusso
(Rimini): It's only a co-ownership at the moment, but Ahmed probably has the highest potential value proportional to price paid from the summer. His physical gifts are glaring, and if he progresses as many expect him to over the next 2 years, he will be one of the best and most devastating central mids in the game. My pick for transfer of the summer. Grade: A

Marco Andreolli (Inter): Still only on co-ownership, but already one of the more naturally gifted players on the squad. He'll be eased into the squad (that's code for "enjoy the pine"), and his pricetag probably won't fluxuate much before le buste next summer, so his grade could be considered incomplete at the moment, because there's a very real possibility Massimo will offer up silly scrilla to bring him back next year. Either way, Roma will make a profit from his sale or they have a guy considered on par with Nesta's talent on their hands. That's a win-win situation. Grade: B+

Vitorino Antunes (Pacos de Ferreira): Vice-Tonetto was a value buy with a look to the future. Even though he's only on loan, his option at €1.2m is so small he'd really have to fall flat on his face to force The Grand Imperial Poobah to tell the powers-that-be not to pick it up. Right now it's a very cheap evaluation period for a talented player. On paper it sounds like a shrewd move. Grade: B

Marco Cassetti
(Lecce): The remainder of his contract was picked up for less than seven figures. No matter what he lacks defensively, he's well worth it. Grade: B+

Daniel Unal (Bellinzona): The U-17 Swiss superstud is only on a loan, but was poached from under the waiting arms of Inter, Juve and Milan. That alone is stellar. Plus, he scored a goal in his Primavera debut. However, could Rosella really not afford the pricetag to buy him outright? Does she have too many handbags on layaway? It's not like he's Pato or anything. Grade: C- (Strictly for the loan)

Transfers Out

Cristian Chivu (Inter): Is it over? Is it really over? I still have nightmares about the saga that was Chivu this summer. If we're looking at this from a perspective of: Roma should have handled this a long time ago, then no, it wasn't a wonderful deal. But it would be naive to think this was about finances or lack of an extension or that Rosella put her foot down and said, "I'm selling him and that's that." However this decision was made, it wasn't just about finances. The not-so-secret impending arrival of Juan makes this quite obvious, and also makes you wonder who was the boss of it all when it came to making this decision (I'll say it, I think it was Spalletti - in fact I'm relatively sure of it). So did Rosella & Co. do a good job of getting maximum value for a player who had limited his options to one suitor? Yes. Did they replace him - at the very least - adequately? Yes. Grade: B+

Stefano Okaka Chuka (Modena): If he wasn't playing in Rome, he had to play somewhere. He will never be a bench player waiting for his time. Good move, although Serie A would have been preferable. Grade: B+

Ricardo Faty (Bayer Leverkusen): I like the loan move, but is two years really necessary? Sounds like it might have been a gift for the Juan thievery. Grade: B-

Aleandro Rosi (Chievo): Yes, Chievo has an option to buy clause when his loan ends after the season, but Roma also has a buy-back clause so this makes it tolerable. Rosi just needs to play right now, although Serie A would've been the preferred route (and we know there wasn't a dearth of suitors). Grade: C+

Christian Wilhelmsson (Bolton): Addition by subtraction. Grade: A++

Vincenzo Montella
(Sampdoria): Quite simply, he deserved it. Grade: A

Shabani Nonda (Galatasaray): I understand Shabs may not have been in favor of sitting in the stands and waving the flag for most of the season, but they couldn't say "no thanks" the €1.3m they got for him and stick him on the pine as a backup forward for at least half the year? That's nothing more than rainy day money. Grade: B-

Edgar "Burritos" Alvarez (Livorno): Yes, he was surplus to requirements, but why can't they get anybody to buy him? It's not as though he'd cost an arm and a leg. Or more than a pack of juicy fruit and a signed lithograph of Marco Amelia (conceding a goal, of course). Plus, the team asked if he could stay around. I'm not sure it was that important he be moved. Grade: C

Valerio Virga, Simone Palermo, Daniele Magliocchetti, Pietro Pipolo, Gianluca Freddi, Keivan Zarineh, Alessio Cerci: All had to go out on loan, all good moves. Grade: B+

Overall, it was a very good summer for Roma. The key not so much the additions, but how many quality players they picked up while only selling off one player who actually factored into the team. Rosella & Co. spent €34m on the mercato, which was second only to Juventus, who had to make sure everybody knew they were back at the party by showing up all blinged out in a chinchilla coat. Much of the mercato centers around the personal feelings on Chivu, and whether or not Rosella royally screwed it up last summer/winter by not signing him to an extension. But at this point all the evidence points to it being a) a good move, and b) coming from someone other than the money managers. He'll be forgotten before long. In fact, it looks like he may be already.

The only new boy to really have an impact thus far is Lulu Gulu, and we'll have to wait for the season to kick into full swing before we know how prudent the purchases actually were. In fact, we'll revisit the summer mercato midseason to see how some of the buys made out. For value and bang-for-your-buck, it looks really good right now (except for that one purchase). I'm more than happy with it, as it provides one of the biggest weak points from last year: quality depth. Hopefully this will go a long way in avoiding point drops at the hands of teams like Torino and Cagliari, thus vaulting them into contention for the scudetto. If initial form is any indication, then it's going to be a very good season, and the new buys - when healthy - should only help.

My Grade: B+

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