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Totti Today #27: Mad about the mercato

The winter mercato is behind us and the same old questions were raised: do Roma come out stronger or weaker? Some people left, some entered the city. Walter had to find replacements for Destro (hard but doable) and Borriello’s looks (impossible) while injuries to Iturbe and Strootman caused some headaches as well. Did Walter finish the job like a pro? Or did he fail like a freshman being bullied and robbed of his lunch money?

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When looking back at the month of January and Roma’s transfer strategy, you can’t deny the fact that Walter only slowly changed into gear. For a long time there was little movement on the market. Yes, Jedvaj was easily sold to Leverkusen but the price tag and timing were right, it was a no-brainer. Tin feels at home in Germany and would have problems getting into the first team next season anyway (Castan’s comeback, Manolas, Yanga who is now fully ours and there’s this matter of Romagnoli too). Rudi’s not a manager like Zeman who had the balls to immedatly drop a 18-year-old in the heart of the defence (I miss them ‘Hos). He mainly keeps it safe with tried and tested players.

Things were really heating up when Destro to Milan became a possibility. Honestly, I never took the rumors for granted. Yes, Mattia was constantly linked with other teams but I always thought it was just mercato jibberish. Until he actually signed a damn contract for the Rossoneri. Sabatini was quick to replace Destro with another D: Gervinho’s countryman Doumbia, target man of CSKA Moscow. In the previous Today I already told my point of view on this deal: Mattia’s time in Rome simply was up and even though he’s only loaned out to Milan for six months, there’s very little that can come in between a definitive agreement. Doumbia’s numbers are more impressive, let’s see what the Swiss and Russian beast can do in a more tactical and tight league like Serie A.

As if Castan and Strootman’s injury woes weren’t enough, Iturbe decided to make it a hat trick of useless bodies. Prompting Walter to shop (again) in Cagliari. After Astori and Radja, Roma welcome another Sardinian and made a deal for winger/centre-forward /second striker/Swiss army knife Victor Ibarbo. Who curiously is already known as Big Dick Vick in Church in only a week time (go on and explain that). Faut le faire. Ironically, he got injured right after his debut and is now out for one month. Murphy’s law. Or Iturbe’s fault, your pick…

Although he’s called up for the Europa League, Castan still faces a long time of recovery and no one of the other three CB’s has convinced the management so far. So what do you do? You buy an almost 32-year-old CB from a low-flying team in the basement of Serie B to, errr, ‘strengthen’ your backline. Yeah, that makes sense. As in: it makes sense to bring back Simone Loria, promote him with the captain’s armband while selling Totti to Sassuolo and loaning out De Rossi to Pro Vercelli, to call Mauro Esposito the best thing that happened to AS Roma in the past ten years and to hail Carlo Zotti as the ‘next Dino Zoff’. That kind of sense.

Finally, as I already predicted earlier: Borriello’s gone. Nothing short of a catastrophe for the ladies but a good deal of business for Roma: we lost a big chunk of wages for a guy who didn’t play a single official game for Roma in 2014. Question is, now with Taddei and Borriello gone, who is gonna be Roma’s next sex symbol? Is Holebas up for the task? Ucan? Balzaretti? Whoever it’s gonna be, he has big shoes to fill. Let the election begin!

Some smaller deals were made along the way, nothing memorable: Somma to Empoli, Ferrante and Kevin Mendez loaned out, ‘the next Yaya Toure’ Pepin was signed from Malaga. All in all, Roma aren’t weakened but they’re not improved either. Shame cauz January usually is the time to do some good cheap deals. Spolli was the surprise of the chef, but the fullback situation still needs to be adressed ASAP. Darmian, Chichires or Criscito all didn’t happen. Roma swapped a striker with another striker who has it all to prove while Ibarbo brings some welcome versatility in the attacking department, especially after Iturbe’s injury. The midfield houses enough bodies so no worries there.

A pile of complaints or not, these are the guys Rudi has to work with. A nice run in the Europa League and a top 3 place in Italy is the absolute minimum. Ironically, Roma’s latest game was not decided by a big addition from Russia or Cagliari but a teenager. No one else but Primavera product Daniele Verde took matter in his own hands and guided Roma to its first win in one month in Serie A. While doing that, Verde won many MOTM-mentions (7,7.5, 8,…), including a big loud hallelujah moment in our Chiesa.

Verde, no53, gave two assists. Rudi opted to give Daniele his full debut in Roma and luckily his gamble paid off. At only 18 years old, the road is still long but if Cagliari was an indication of Daniele’s talent, expect much much more from this kid. The return of Gervinho and Ibarbo might get in the way of his development but a loan to another Serie A side never hurt anybody. Possibly already this Summer.

Verde, born in Naples so without the huge pressure of being the next Totti, Bruno Conti or De Rossi, only recently signed a profesional contract at Roma until 2018. Take into account Paredes’ goal and Sanabria’s long-awaited debut and Roma’s future looks a little brighter yet again… Or should I say greener?