In case you weren't aware, the January transfer window kicks wide open this week, and the Roma rumor mongers are already in full swing. After yesterday's news that Roma and Genoa had struck a potential €12 million pact for 27-year-old jack of all trades attacker Diego Perotti, Football Italia via La Gazzetta dello Sport are reporting that Roma and AC Milan have hashed out the future of 23-year-old post-hype superstar Stephan El Shaarawy.
According to the reports, Roma will take the little pharaoh on a six month loan with an option to buy, believed to be in the neighborhood of €12 million. The option reportedly mirrors the one Monaco had through the first half of the season, whereupon a certain number of appearances, Roma will be obligated to purchase El Shaarawy.
We discussed all the pros and cons of bringing El Shaarawy to Roma late last week, but in case you missed it, here is the TL;DR version: El Shaarawy was perhaps the hottest Italian prospect to come along in the past ten years, achieved early success during a torrid six month stretch, hasn't been able to recreate that since, yet he's still just 23-years-old.
El Shaarawy's story isn't unique, young players burst on the scene only to flameout all the time, but in order to properly assess this potential move, we have to view it within the context of his potential role with Roma. That is to say, is SES the better alternative off the bench than Juan Iturbe was or Diego Perotti might be?
It's hard to say given the scarcity of data, but if we're going on stats alone, Perotti seems like the best option, or at least the safer play because you know what you're getting. He can play a number of positions and has been on par with Roma's best playmakers this season, at least in terms of key passes. While El Shaarawy has the allure of youth and the nostalgic appeal of his 2012-2013 season with Milan, but he's played approximately 2,400 league minutes since that season, so he's hardly the picture of health or consistency.
So in the here and now, Perotti is probably the safer and more versatile play, but when we consider that whoever fills Iturbe's shoes will probably play no more than 15 minutes per match, El Shaarawy's potential becomes a bit more persuasive. If he can regain his earlier form, Roma could get twice the production and half the cost and could pair SES with Mohamed Salah to form an incredibly athletic and dangerous pairing on the wings.
At this point, we simply have no idea how this Perotti-El Shaarawy-Roma-Genoa-Monaco puzzle will come together, as both Roma and Genoa have multiple moves lined up. Genoa is raiding Milan for Alessio Cerci and Suso loan moves, presumably to replace Perotti, while Milan, based on simple numbers, needs to figure out El Shaarawy's future before loaning out Cerci and Suso.
I really should start following other teams and leagues, are they all this messy and convoluted, or is it just an Italian thing?