While much of yesterday's conversation dealt with Roma's successes relative to Juventus' legal transgressions, I may have buried an important part of the lead, Roma's relationship to their more moneyed Milanese neighbors, Inter Milan and AC Milan. With the former lurking around everyone's favorite panacea to Roma's problems, Stevan Jovetic, and the latter landing Jackson Martinez and possibly prying Zlatan Ibrahimovic from PSG, Roma may have two more combatants in their quest to stop Juve's strive for five, two combatants with shiny new toys up top, and while clinical strikers aren't the be all end all of title teams, they are the most apparent key to success, which leaves Roma in a bit of a quandary.
Controversial or not, Roma's front office assured everyone that they could indeed survive without Mattia Destro because his replacement, Seydou Doumbia, was supposedly an underrated and underpublicized hitman; it was simply a matter of time before the tifosi came to love Roma's new #88. And while this may yet prove true, the fact remains that, in light of his poor performance in 2015, it was a colossal mismanagement of the transfer market. Not only did Walter Sabatini offload a productive and popular asset in Destro, he didn't even get him off the books permanently, leading us to this summer's potentially awkward scenario.
Between Destro and Doumbia, Roma have two forwards worth a combined €30m, both of whom are coming off extremely disappointing seasons, and both of whom are now, to borrow a mortgage term, underwater, worth less than their transfer figures would lead one to believe.
But, it doesn't end there, a third, somewhat underperforming attacking asset has now entered the fray, Borussia Dortmund's Ciro Immobile, who simply couldn't seem to find solid footing in his first season in Germany. Immobile, you may recall, was as hot as any Italian prospect on the peninsula, scoring 28 goals in 2011-2012 helping to guide Pescara back to Serie A before moving to Torino where he truly shined. Immobile burst onto the Serie A scene in 2013-2014, scoring 22 goals (good enough for that year's Capocannoniere) for the Toros in 33 league appearances, leading him to every hipster's favorite football team, BVB.
Then there is the real darkhorse in this race, Manchester City want away forward, Edin Dzeko. We've discussed this potential transfer several times this spring, so we won't rehash all the Xs and Os of this deal, but with the Citizens valuing him at €24m, he may prove cost prohibitive. That is, unless, you believe the latest rumor that would see Roma send Adem Ljajic as a make weight to land the 29-year-old Bosnian.
While we have no idea if any of these men will be leading Roma's line next season, I thought it would be interesting to stack them up, using their 2013-2014 numbers as a basis for comparison because, let's face, they all sucked this past season.
Considering they played in different leagues and there was quite a gulf in minutes played (Immobile played a thousand minutes more than either Destro or Doumbia and 500 more than Dzeko), we'll use per 90 minute figures for goals and shots, while relying on gross stats in the remaining categories
Wow. This one caught me off guard, look at Doumbia, nearly lapping the field in every category, leading in everything but shots per 90 minutes and chances created, to which I ask, where the hell was that this spring?
At first blush, that graph takes a bit of shine off of Immobile, but as always, I caution to read too much into these, as there are a host of factors at play here and questions worth asking: was Destro just incredibly, incredibly hot for a four month stretch? Did Doumbia feast upon an inferior league? Were Immobile's goals simply a product of a heavy usage percentage? Is Dzeko simply past his prime?
You can slice this argument in any one of those directions, but if Immobile really is, as Zach suggested on the board yesterday, simply a faster Destro, then what's the point? Why go through the frustration of negotiating in the first place? And what about Doumbia, do these numbers warrant an actual crack at it next season? And would it really be worth sacrificing the younger, more versatile Ljajic to land Dzeko, who may only have a few seasons of top production left?
Without knowing Rudi Garcia's true beliefs (that is to say, the amount of influence he has on transfers), we simply don't really know who he wants. Don't forget, it was under Garcia that Destro rose to true prominence, yet it was Doumbia who effectively pushed him out the door, presumably at Garcia's behest, only to fall on his face once he arrived. So he could want any one of those four, maybe he wants two of them, maybe he wants none. We simply don't know.
Furthermore, if Garcia does indeed survive the summer and these decision are being made without his input, then we could be in for another year of suspect squad rotations and stagnating offense. Rudi's two years in Rome have proven two things: he has his favorites, who play often, and I mean often, and his love for the 4-3-3 is intractable. So if you don't give him who or what he wants, they become sunken costs rotting on the bench, and if what Roma currently has in stock (i.e. Ljajic and Destro) doesn't fit his favored formation, we risk losing young and talented assets.
If the past two years have proven nothing else, it's that maintaining any sort of cohesion on the pitch is exceedingly difficult when the manager and director of sport aren't on the same page. So, will any one of these men lead Roma's line next year, or are they merely the latest in a long line of sacrificial lambs?
You can only choose one, who is Roma's striker next season?
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