If you totaled up all the Pablo Osvaldo rumors to which we've been exposed this summer, we're looking at nearly €100m...that's Gareth Bale money right there, folks. Now, obviously Roma would be lucky to get a fifth of that, but wouldn't you know it, the Lords of the Silly Season have gifted us just that: a €20m Osvaldo offering.
(apropos of nothing in particular, Ms. Del Rey has come up in our behind-closed-doors meetings far too often, so here you go, enjoy this particular Chiesa's Madonna. You could also consider this a veiled attempt to increase our female readership)
German stalwarts, Wolfsburg, are the latest in the long list including Manchester City, Tottenham and Southampton to express interest in Roma's Italo-Argentine prima donna. Perhaps it was because of that dual citizenship or simply because he's a talented striker, but with PDO being called up for the Italy-Argentina friendly on August 14th, conveniently enough at the Stadio Olimpico, Osvaldo should have the requisite motivation--making Prandelli's 2014 World Cup squad--to accept a move to a less than desirable locale.
We're witnessing it with Maicon, Atletico Madrid is getting it from David Villa, and even the Seattle Sounders stand to benefit from Clint Dempsey. So what am I talking about? Patience, I was getting to that.
For players in, at, or around age 30 and sitting on the fringes of their national team, the season preceding a World Cup is critical. Success this season, hell, even simple playing time, will go a long way to keeping these players in their national team's respective plans. Villa and Dempsey have long been two of my favorite players, but this is a Roma forum, is it not?
So, on to Maicon we go.
With no real competition at the right back spot, Roma stands to benefit immensely from Maicon's sudden burst of motivation. With the big dance in his very own backyard, Roma should enjoy the benefit of a rejuvenated Maicon, providing service from the right flank the likes of which Roma haven't seen in years. It's a win-win scenario for player, club and nation. Sorry, make that win-win-win.
But what about Osvaldo? One can safely assume he wants to make Prandelli's squad this summer, but his role with Roma isn't quite as lucid as Maicon's. With Gervinho's arrival and Marco Borriello's mini Roman resurgence, the forward lineup is suddenly crowded, particularly with Francesco Totti and Erik Lamela being cemented into two thirds of the forward section of Rudi's 4-3-3.
Presumably Garcia didn't pine after Gervinho to have him view the action from the bench, so the option does exist, no matter how remote, that Rudi might run out a Gervinho, Totti, Lamela trident (of sorts) on opening day, leaving the rest of the rotation up to Mattia Destro's delicate knees and Borriello. (I feel this is an appropriate time to mention this: As I'm writing this, Microsoft Word wants to autocorrect ‘Borriello' to ‘Bordello'...that seems appropriate.)
So, if you're Pablo Osvaldo, what do you do? Can you subjugate your ego and accept a move to a less preferable location if it ensures playing time, thereby increasing your odds of remaining on Prandelli's radar? Or do you keep your feet firmly rooted in Roma, stubbornly believing that your athleticism outweighs your antics?
It's an interesting dynamic in many ways, one which many people face in their own careers; taking a calculated risk by accepting a lateral move in the short term, in the hopes that it reaps long term rewards. In many instances, it's a risk worth taking, but when we're talking about your average corporate drone, it's a long play-five,ten, twenty years.
For a footballer the year before the World Cup, we're looking at ten months, so it's a gamble in every sense. Which provides the greater benefit, increased playing time and a more prominent role at a lesser club with lesser teammates, (relatively speaking) or a more reduced role and potentially scattered minutes at a larger club with more talented cohorts? The last point is an important one; after all, Francesco Totti has a way of making the mediocre look respectable and the good look great.
For the club, the matter is just as complex. We can safely (fingers crossed) count on 25-30 goals between Totti and Lamela, but who is the third scoring option? Gervinho had a few good years with Garcia in Lille, but, as far as this Roma team is concerned, that's ancient history. For the sake of the club's future (as we've outlined many times), Destro needs to play, but he's not exactly reliable at this point in time, so the allure of keeping Osvaldo, no matter his personal or professional deficiencies, might actually be quite strong.
But, as we mentioned, time is running short for Roma and Osvaldo. The North American tour concludes today, the squad numbers have been assigned, and all the new faces have grown accustomed to Taddei's banana hammocks, all of which points towards one thing: the season is about to commence.
When we're talking about a player yearning for the most desirable of caps, and a club desperate for a shred of consistency, the biggest shoe has yet to drop. And with precious little time before the 2013-2014 campaign, a familiar tale might unfold, one which we've seen time and time again. Given the salaries, the egos, and the negotiating process involved, sometimes the most impactful moves are the one's which happen in the proverbial 11th hour.
For Roma and Osvaldo, the clock is ticking. Loudly.