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Winter Mercato Deadline Day: The AS Roma Dog & Pony Show

It's back!


Big news: Luca Antei has one on loan to Sassuolo.

Somebody get the balloons.

A day which was expected to offer nothing offered precisely the opposite until the end, when it came to a close with a pissed off giant Dutchman unnecessarily spending the night in London before having to return to Rome for the match against Cagliari.

Here is supposedly what happened with Maarten Stekelenburg:

- Roma accepted a deal with Fulham (rumored to be €6m) for Maarten's full sale.

- Due to time constraints (medical, paperwork, etc), Maarten was sent to London with the knowledge that if Roma did not find a suitable replacement, the deal would be cancelled and he would be returning to Rome in his grumpy pants.

- That's exactly what happened. Either Fiorentina or Palermo could not/would not push through the deal with Emiliano Viviano - nor could they find another - and thus, no new keeper was brought in, so Maarten will be back in Rome for Cagliari. When he'll almost definitely be on the bench and @#$%ing thrilled about it.

It appears cut and dried when consolidated down to a few events, but it certainly did not go down as such, and Maarten's agent seems rather bewildered. Given the blow-by-blow, amateur hour over in the other city is being commended for its professionalism by comparison.

So here's what all of this says:

- Mauro Goicoechea is told he is not good enough to be the undisputed starter, as Mauro, Lobont, Svedkauskas, and the weekly paycheck of Julio Sergio are simply not enough for Roma to simply sell on a miserable employee with no body in return.

- Maarten is not good enough for Roma either.

- Maarten's not really good enough for Fulham, either - Jack Butland was their number one choice, but he chose Stoke City instead.

- Maarten is not good enough for Stoke City either.

- Emiliano Viviano is better than both of them. (I'm mostly implying this one. 'Cause it's true.) He's also their first choice, which has been true as he, not Stekelenburg, was the one they wanted before Bologna mucked it all up in the envelopes and he went to Inter and put his knee in a meat-grinder.

- Bogdan Lobont isn't Jeses of the Sticks, which is simply untrue.

- The club does not respect the choice of the coach, really, since they either want Maarten or someone better, because Zeman's ChoiceTM isn't enough, according to them. That is, perhaps, the largest portion of all of this.

Beyond the actual parties involved, let's look at this from a purely conceptual perspective with generic examples. Maarten is Player A and Mauro is Player B.

Player A is the starter to begin the year, and seemingly ensconced as the starter, and yet, the club deems it appropriate to buy a seemingly unnecessary Player B for his position at the end of the summer. Nevertheless, Player A begins the year as the starter with undesirable results. He gets injured and Player B is brought in, and while not brilliant, he at least performs on par. Player B, whose skill set is more desirable to the coach, keeps the job and Player A is relegated to backup status. There is, at worst, negligible difference between the two.

Player A then makes it clear that if he isn't going to start, he wants to depart in the January window. He makes this clear before the window, during the window, and around the window while sitting on the window sill. He. Wants. Out. The club does not accommodate his request, even as the coach continues to choose Player B over him, throughout the entire month of January, until the very last day of the transfer window, when they say Player A can leave...but only for an unnamed Player C. So not only is Player A not good enough, but neither is Player B, and all the other 47 backups are kind of shit too.

What the fuck is wrong with this picture, Pythagoras.

January is 31 days long, not 24 hours. They had 31 days to move Maarten Stekelenburg for any of the many goalkeepers who are much better than both he and Mauro Goicoechea - some are better than both of them combined. Thirty-one days. And suddenly, they can't get a replacement because the paperwork isn't due in time, or they're running through Goalkeepers R'Us before the cash registers close and don't get there in time.

This happens in universities all the time. "I couldn't finish the paper because yadda yadda yadda HMO yadda yadda cancer yadda my dog yadda yadda transvestite clown yadda."

"Look at the syllabus, nuck futs; you had three months to get this done. F-minus-minus."

So now they have a supremely unhappy Maarten Stekelenburg, a slightly peeved Mauro Goicoechea, a lot of hurt feelings, someone on a flight from London to Rome tomorrow having to deal with an incredibly tall, incredibly irritated Dutchman, and the realization that Maarten isn't here for long haul anyway. This is a big boatload of failure served with a side of scratching the head.

It's the type of mercato you expect from, well, any club in Italy, but we'll say the Eccellenza just to be kind.

Oh, and this club is sitting in 8th, has been exposed as both thin and inadequate in the midfield, and perhaps in need of a boost. And their big move was to make everyone in goal feel a little unhappy and nothing else. Two winters in a row, with Europe - any amount of Europe at all - on the line and Roma in need of a small injection of...something, they have a net intake of Vasilis Torosidis, a versatile player, yes, but one whose main position is currently occupied by one of Roma's best performers, 23 years old, in his first Serie A season, and looking nothing close to his ceiling yet. The problems are beginning to look like they begin higher than Zeman. Because while you want to develop youth, those European experiences against different sides, different styles, and simply the ability to play more minutes, are invaluable. Taking away a couple of games from, say, Florenzi in Serie A can be made up for through the 5 he would play in the Europa League. Experience this club might need a little bit of outside help to get to, because some of the parts at hand just aren't cutting it.

Though they did keep Taddei, and that makes it all worth it.

Stay beautiful.