Don't look now but Roma completed their second transaction of the summer. What's that you say, it's nearly August and Walter Sabatini should have outfitted the squad by now? I like you, but you're crazy. They call it the Eternal City for a reason, because you have an eternity to sign players. It's not like there's a specified window in which clubs can only sign players ahead of a new season.
All kidding aside, it appears as though Roma has landed Wojciech Szczesny on loan from Arsenal. The Gunners 25-year-old keeper, who broke the news himself via Instagram last night, will reportedly join the Giallorossi on a one-year loan, or as the folks at Football Italia call it, a "dry loan", which sounds like a euphemism for a very unpleasant sexual act.
So, what do we know about Roma's second signature of the summer?
Szczensy is a big, big dude, checking in a 6'5" and approximately 195lbs. However, we shouldn't necessarily fear shades of Stekelenburg. As you see in the clip above (Yes, that's Cobrastyle by the Teddy Bears, straight outta FIFA 06), Woj is quite adept at getting to the ground and smothering low shots, a problem that can sometimes plague larger keepers.
Since moving to Arsenal in 2009, Szczesny has made nearly 200 appearances in all competitions, including all 38 league appearances in 2011-2012. Among those near 200 appearances are 29 Champions League cameos, which is actually more than Roma's incumbent keeper, Morgan De Sanctis.
Szczesny is generally regarded as a technically sound keeper, one with great reflexes and shot stopping ability, as well as efficient and rapid distribution, which also sounds like an unfortunate sexual euphemism. The one knock on Woj seems to be his ability to control the airspace in the penalty area, which can certainly be remedied with further experience, but one has to wonder if his newfound language barrier will cause chaos in the six yard box.
However, that's not the real problem here. The issue with this move is the nature of the loan; a one-off loan with no option to buy, mandatory or otherwise (as reported by Il Tempo and corroborated by several English sources), to which I ask, what's the point? Why go through the effort and pay his wages for one year when it's not clear he'll even unseat Morgan De Sanctis? Why not just keep Lukasz Skorupski or even give Gianluca Curci the backup gig?
I have no qualms with Szczesny in and of himself, in fact the more I read about him and the more I see of him, I think he could be a hell of a keeper, but what's the best case scenario from a business point of view?
If he steps up and steals MDS' job as Roma's top shot stopper where does that leave us? Arsenal will still hold all the cards in any future negotiation because they can float his salary while he sits behind Petr Cech and David Ospina, giving them ample leverage over Roma. It will essentially be a Dzeko-City situation all over again; a rich club with a surplus asset and no real motivation to sell, thereby allowing them to string Roma along for months, squeezing them for a few extra million Euros in the process.
Szczesny may be redundant for Arsenal, but he is by no means a necessity for Roma. They don't need him in order to succeed this coming season, he is a luxury; an intriguing insurance policy for the 38-year-old De Sanctis, that's all. So this is one instance in which Sabatini should have negotiated on his terms; Roma had nothing to lose by playing hardball and demanding a buyout clause for their new keeper.
Does that make this a Seydou Doumbia-level oversight? Of course not, Roma won't be worse off employing Szczesny for one year, but where is their incentive? What are they left with at the end of the day? De Sanctis will be off to retirement and Walter Sabatini will be left holding the bag, desperately searching for a new number one keeper.
This isn't an indignation of Sabatini's suitability for his job, but it is potentially another piece of damning evidence in the case of the People vs Walter Sabatini.
Update: Roma is rumored to have secured a €7 million buyout clause