As you no doubt noticed, things in Serie A have slowed to a crawl this week. After an entertaining opening weekend and the always entertaining transfer deadline day, fans of the Italian game are once again faced with our perpetual nemesis, the dreaded international break, a distraction rendered meaningless in a non-World Cup, non-Euro year. There were, however, a few droplets of news hitting the wire this morning worth discussing.
While Roma's rebirth last season was largely propelled by the usual suspects--Francesco Totti, Daniele De Rossi, Miralem Pjanic et al.--where would the Giallorossi have been without the contributions of Morgan De Sanctis, Maicon and Alessandro Florenzi?
Each man entered the 2013-2014 facing career altering and/or defining questions. After bouncing around every major Italian outlet for the better part of a decade, MDS finally found a home in Naples, where he was a mainstay between the sticks for several seasons; several successful season, yes, but not without a few colossal *%&# ups every now and then. At age 36 and no longer wanted by Napoli, MDS was out to prove that he could still lead a defense to the top of the table. 36 starts and 23 cleansheets later, MDS proved he was still up to snuff.
For Maicon, the situation was much the same. The man once reputed to be the world's best right back was now more known as Gareth Bale's plaything, looking a step slow and a shade uninterested. Maicon did little to restore his reputation during his lone season at Manchester City; he was aging, out of shape and far from a wanted man. If you're a regular here, you know the story, Maicon was about as close to his Inter peak as we'd seen in years, casting aside the doubters to not only earn a spot in Roma's starting XI, but Brazil's as well.
Florenzi's tale, meanwhile, was a bit different. He wasn't over the hill, in fact, he'd barely begun ascending it, but no one really knew what his summit was supposed to look like. Was he a midfielder or a forward? Did he have the technique to perform alongside Totti? Was his passing crisp enough to create for others? Well, six goals and seven assists later, those questions have been (somewhat) answered.
Given the strides and/or recuperations each of these man made last season, it should come as no surprise that the club has or will offer them contract extensions.
For Florenzi, the extension is a no brainer--he's only 23-years-old and already has over 70 Serie A appearances, nine goals and seven assists, and his €700,000 salary, given that production, was a bargain. While the length of this rumored extension remains unknown, the early reports indicate that it will at least double his salary. Florenzi's current deal expires in 2016, so one would imagine this extension should at least take him through 2018, if not the end of the decade.
The extensions with MDS and Maicon, on the other hand, aren't as easily understood. Maicon, 33, and De Sanctis, 36, are, despite their resurgence last year, on the downside of their careers. Right back and keeper are far and away Roma's most glaring long-term weaknesses, and with no ready made replacement on hand, not to mention extensions and raises due to more critical members of the squad, will new deals for these aging veterans hamstring what Roma can do in the future, particularly in terms of finding suitable replacements at right back and keeper (read: not a 20 year old kid who may be good four years from now)?
That's not to say that either Maicon or MDS won't have any utility for this squad over the next 24 months or so, but at the level and years they're likely to demand, it makes one question the shrewdness of this move. At some point, Roma must find viable, long term solutions for these positions.