It's not much of a secret that one of management's first tasks was to take a Hitori Hanso to the payroll several times over, leaving Jack the Ripper himself impressed by its savagery. In many ways, they succeeded. There are, however, a few lingering...err..."dead weight" contracts - at least one would presume that's how they're viewed by those in the fancy suits. Some have always been dead weight - Julio Sergio: you, sir, are unloved - while others have been homicided before our very eyes - Nico Burdisso a victim of both his ACL and that cunning kid, Marquinhos.
In attempting to formulate some theories on the Winter Prison Window - that's why I'm dubbing it, because nothing's going to happen - and beyond, I figured it was a good idea to amble on over to RomaNews, smell the flowers on the way, and check out the contract situation. And so I did, and here's a little breakdown.
Warning: disappointment lies ahead. (That has nothing to do with this stream of words, but will become my personal standard disclaimer. Might even toss it on a business card.)
* - Numbers are gross, which means pre-tax. This is the amount Roma pays out.
Summer 2013 Dead Weight Coming Off
Simone Perrotta-ish (2.5m). And.....Simone Perrotta. Bogdan Lobont's contract is also up, but he's cheap and a pretty excellent third keeper to have around (good backup, too). He could even be up for another year or so, really.
Simone does actually have an option to renew. One would think, however, retirement or seeing out his days on the pitch somewhere would be on the docket, rather than perfecting his bench posture along with the odd cameo, which is all his Roma career has become.
Summer 2014 Dead Weight
Nicolas Burdisso (4.5m), Rodrigo Taddei (2.8m for this season, 1.9m for next), Julio Sergio (1.4m for this, 700k for next).
JSB: We should call him the "You're Dead To Me Weight" contract. He's likely to be paid off or sold at no cost.
Taddei: Primed for The David Pizarro Treatment. A guy with some tread left on the tire but not wanted in Rome given the free transfer option to get the minutes he isn't being afforded in Rome, since his style simply does not fit Zeman whatsoever, even at fullback. Plus there's been no need - Piris has been all kinds of Mr. Wonderful lately, and they're likely to bring in someone even sooner. Hell, he could go earlier than the summer of 2013 if they net a Jung or similar RB in January (unlikely).
Burdisso: This is tricky. Nico's contract is, for Roma, substantial. He's not making DDR money, but that's a big chunk of change for a guy who lost both starting central defender spots after his foot went one way and his knee went the other. He wants to play, and Roma will want to accommodate that request for some big savings. A January move is a possibility, but Castan is hardly a world beater - he's not infallible - and Marquinhos is a kid in his first professional season - a good third is hardly something they should consider a financially imprudent luxury. Plus Nico brings some invaluable intangibles to the side which are arguably worth the contract hit, which only has 18 months remaining. There are good reasons to both sell and keep him, so there lies a number of possibilities for his shirt color in both the near and nearer futures.
Oh, and someone else's rather substantial contract is up in 2014, but we're ignoring that for now. And forever. Not happening. Ever. Nope...
The Curious Case of Stefano Guberti
Ever so quietly, Stefano Guberti was shelved three years for match-fixing (he proclaims his innocence - don't they all). His contract runs out in 2014, but he's suspended for the remainder of that contract. I don't believe one still gets paid while they're being put in the corner - wonder if he's delivering pizzas on the side now or something - but this is Italy, so anything is possible. Nonetheless, his 1.28m contract runs out in the summer of 2014 as well. At which point he'll go run around the pitch with someone else.
Contracts of Note in 2015
Maarten Stekelenburg (2.7m), Miralem Pjanic (4.5m by 2015), Marco Borriello (80 bajillion euros).
Borriello: Marco doesn't actually make 80 bajillion euros a year, but he might as well. It's actually 5.4m, which is no small number, particularly considering they're trying to sell and that is the gargantuan obstacle lying in the way. Simply put, no one wants to pay him that much scrilla - Roma least of all. At current, they're splitting his deal with Genoa, but that little second try is currently imploding in spectacular fashion, and he's looking for another team. (Lesson learned: you can never go back to an ex.)
After the Napoli match, Marco will have completed half of his Roma contract. A contract everyone in management wants so desperately to dump. The problem is, it's stupid to give him away for free - he's still got a great deal of value to even top tier clubs. (There's a rumored deal with Inter already.) However, the contract becomes a bit of an imbalance, and those figures relative to a club for whom he offers not a damn thing at current begins to trump his market value.
And if he would take considerably less money, he @#$%ing belongs at Fiorentina right now. It's the most inane non-marriage in calcio at current.
Maarten: From the beginning, no one could convince me Maarten's a great keeper - and he isn't. But that contract is beyond reasonable for a goalie of his quality, and it's even reasonable for a backup at the position. That said, Maarten didn't plan on going from being one of the few considered as van der Sar's heir at Manchester United to sitting on the bench for a club that didn't make Europe at all. He wants to play. He should play. He might even play in Rome once again - Goicoechea's hardly shown himself to be untouchable. He also might be moved within the next 48 hours.
In short, no one knows what's going to happen. His value, in complete contrast to Borriello, lies in that he can command a solid transfer fee, largely based on the fact that his annual income is so reasonable, and he won't be asking for Top 10 keeper money. He is a desirable commodity both in terms of footballing ability and financial feasibility. Solid asset for Roma - to keep or to sell.
Miralem: This is, at current, the most worrisome contract - for a few reasons:
i. It's not small. In fact, I didn't realize he was making so much as a 21 year old.
ii. It's deserved.
iii. It needs to be re-upped, and he's not going to want a status quo contract. And while he isn't a Zeman-sized puzzle piece, he's the type of cat you build a midfield around for years, and holds the type of passing vision which can't replace, but at least absorb some of the loss of Totti when that day doesn't happen. Ever. Were he not so perfectly suited to Luis Enrique's system, one could even posit the theory this was the true purpose of his purchase. Long-term foresight.
They have to re-up Miralem for one reason or another, because the type of clubs which are going to go after him - Barcelona, Real Madrid, anyone in the Prem - won't even look twice at the contract, nor would he probably care much about taking a slight paycut if it meant playing patty cake tiki-taka with Messi on the weekends. This means even if they do idiotically sell him, they can recoup a far larger transfer fee than a 12 Month Liquidation Special would curry.
If it's not done by the summer, start hoisting the banners at the Olimpico.
Contract of Note in 2016
Jose Angel (1.5m)
Stop bringing Spanish defenders to Serie A. Seriously. It's like driving the brand new car off the lot, across the median and straight into the ditch on the other side of the road - losing its value going "off the lot" doesn't even begin to describe the tragic happenings.
The Kids Are Alright
Good work by Sabatini & Co. here.
2016: Lamela, Marquinhos, Florenzi
(Others are on minimal contracts, including Nico Lopez.)
Their prized youth outside of Pjanic is all locked up for at least three more years, though you would imagine Erik's agent will be knocking on the door with a wry smile and pamphlets from the cities like Milan, Manchester, et cetera, casually mentioning a contract bump could see them land in the trash easily enough. Ditto for Marquinhos after more than three months of stellar play.
They'll damn sure pay Erik, too - if much of his current productivity is directly related to Zeman's style. The big difference is he's finishing most of his chances while still so young. That's no small deal.
Ivan Piris: He seems a guaranteed buy at this point unless they strike gold on Jung or someone of a similar ilk and simply decide to run with him for the foreseeable future, but one can't imagine Ivan will get Scrooge McDuck type cash...if he's turning into one of the best fullbacks in Serie A. (Said it.)
Mauro Goicoechea: Yup, still on loan technically. He'll be bought eventually, one would imagine, but once again - he's not getting Buffon money. We could even say these two will wash with Perrotta and Lobont.
Marquinhos: Already locked into a contract through 2016 since his automatic buy clause was triggered a month or so back.
And that's that for contracts of note. The other contracts - Marquinho, Castan, DDR, Osvaldo, et cetera - can be shoved off to the back burner and ignored unless a greasy-handed agent comes strolling through the door. 2016 and beyond without concern for their progress demanding a re-up or move to a bigger club.
In short, there are no passive solutions to big money suddenly coming off the board for Roma in the coming months - anything to lessen the payroll substantially and remove dead weight will need be actively accomplished through the sales of Burdisso, Stek, Taddei, and/or someone else not named Miralem Pjanicandiftheydoillkillamotherfucker.
Which I suppose means Winter Prison Window could turn into Shawshank if the boys upstairs get itchy enough.
And everyone loves Shawshank.