Several years ago, a simple Google search for AS Roma transfer rumors landed me at our old Roma Offside site. At that point in time, I probably wasn't even aware that European football had a transactional deadline, but there I was immersed in a world of speculation, dreaming that Roma would land Lukas Podolski, Klass Jan Huntelaar or even Adrian Mutu.
Little did I know that I'd someday be the man behind the keyboard, but here we are, and we hit it hard this summer. From the #DareToDzeko campaign, to Gervinho's quest for a personal helicopter to our deadline day coverage, we pumped out exactly 100 summer transfer posts. We're well aware that not everyone enjoys the minutiae or the absurdity of silly season, so we appreciate your time, your insights and your banter; it definitely made for a spirited summer—our community definitely grew and we hope you'll stick with us through the part that matters, the actual season
With that in mind, let's recap Walter Sabatini's shopping season
Departures (sales and loans)
Alessio Romagnoli (AC Milan), Andrea Bertolacci (AC Milan), Adem Ljajic (Inter Milan), Victor Ibarbo (Watford), Lukasz Skorupski (Empoli), Leandro Paredes (Empoli), Daniele Verde (Frosinone), Lorenzo Pellegrini (Sassuolo), Matteo Politano (Sassuolo), Mapou Yanga Mbiwa (Lyon), Seydou Doumbia (CSKA), Marquinho (Udinese), Federico Viviani (Hellas Verona), Jose Cholebas (Watford), Mattia Destro (Bologna), Ashley Cole (Probably a reality show)
We discussed the Romagnoli affair at length; it's more of a long-term loss and a worrying sign about the club's youth policy than an immediate hit, but given what has transpired since then, I don't think any more tears will be shed. In fact, we'll probably all laugh when Edin Dzeko throws him to the ground.
While it didn't seem like a tremendous loss at the time, given Kevin Strootman's continuing injury woes, Paredes' departure and Daniele De Rossi's conversion to a defender, Bertolacci could have been a rotation mainstay after all, but Roma certainly has more talented midfielders coming through the ranks.
The big loss here is, of course, Ljajic, last season's leading scorer. In the immediate sense, it's more of a blow to Roma's depth, but he's just so incredibly skilled and technical, I refuse to believe they couldn't find a suitable role for him, and sending him to Inter of all places is the real coup de grâce, especially at only €11 million.
Arrivals (purchases and loans)
Edin Dzeko (Manchester City), Mohamed Salah (Chelsea), Lucas Digne (PSG), Wojciech Szczesny (Arsenal), Antonio Rüdiger (Stuttgart), Norbert Gyomber (Catania), William Vainqueur (Dynamo Moscow), Emerson Palmieri (Palermo), Ezequiel Ponce (Newell's Old Boys), Iago Falque (Genoa)
While Roma looked at bit slow to react in their opening fixture against Hellas Verona, the true value of these new recruits was evident in Roma's 2-1 victory over Juventus this past weekend. Salah, Digne and Dzeko are instant upgrades at their respective positions, bringing balance and unpredictability back to Rudi Garcia's offense, while Szczesny has already assembled quite a highlight reel.
The big question heading into the fall is one of depth, particularly as Roma will have two players (ironically Romans) playing out of position for several months, if not the whole season. Sabatini's failure to secure a proper right back could come back to haunt the club. Had he managed to land Bruno Peres or Davide Santon, that would've freed Alessandro Florenzi to return to his more natural role up front, thereby offsetting the depth lost with the departures of Ljajic and Ibarbo.
Defensively, we simply have to wait and see how quickly Rüdiger can return to 100% and if Gyomber is more than just a warm body. While not a defensive player in the strictest sense, Vainqueur will be relied upon to firm up the back of Roma's midfield, so his addition should not be overlooked.
Garcia's A-team is most likely the lineup we saw over the weekend, which is, anyway you slice it, one of the best in the league. If Garcia does indeed keep that eleven intact, one would assume Francesco Totti, Juan Iturbe and Gervinho are the main offensive reserves, though we'll want to keep an eye on Ezequiel Ponce and Salih Uçan; not exactly a wellspring of depth, but hopefully enough to make it through the winter.
Defensively...yikes, just cross your fingers and pray to your respective deities because Roma is an injury away from chaos. Beyond De Rossi-the-midfielder-in-defenders-clothes, Manolas-the-walking-yellowcard, and Leandro "Im returning from brain surgery" Castan, there rests only Gyomber, the virtual unknown, and Rüdiger, who hasn't played in months. The fullback depth is even worse, with only Maicon, Vasilis Torosidis and presumably Emerson Palmieri for cover.
So while we can and should laud Sabatini for the work he did landing Dzeko, Salah and Digne, this roster is paper thin and injury or two away from disaster. Digne, Florenzi and De Rossi in particular are sure to log heavy minutes through the fall, while Garcia's reluctance to use Uçan leaves the entire midfield exposed to further fatigue.
Roma should be in the thick of the hunt through the tail end of 2015, but in order to survive the spring, Sabatini must address the club's remaining weaknesses, particularly at the back.
But let us rejoice. Silly season is over, kick up your heels and relax your feet.