Ironically, Sabatini's Roman career was as unpredictable and inconsistent as the club AS Roma itself. Ups and downs, wins and losses, personal gains and defeats... He did a lot of things right, yet he also missed the ball at several occasions. For every Lamela there was a Doumbia. For every Marquinhos there was an Ibarbo. But because he worked hard (that's undeniable, it's a dreadful and gruesome job), let's only focus at the bright spots of his Roman stint.
So yeah, who were exactly those bright spots, the big hits? The bull's eye, the famous 'Sabatini Night Move', the shining costful diamond underneath a huge steaming pile of poo (Too expressive? Sorry). Since Sabatini stepped foot into Rome, in the Summer of 2011, there were some nice transfers he accomplished. Some turned into studs or simply brought in enough cash to buy the rights of Marlboro and name it Smoking Saba Seduction.
Let's go back in time and commemorate Walter Sabtini with this top 5. Bless him, for without Sabatini, we probably wouldn't have seen these guys in our favorite colors:
We start our top with the Dutch Jesus/Washing Machine Snatched out of the hands of Manchester United back in 2013, Strootman joined Roma for quite a hefty sum, but he was worth every penny of it. Plagued by injuries but almost back at the top of his game and a world beater when he's at his best. Immediately turned into a fan favorite, even after his injury curse. He's even become some sort of cult figure. As a director of football like Walter himself, that's the best you can do in your job. Bring in people who elevate the club to a higher level and try to win over fans. Seeing Kevin in any other jersey but Roma's would make our hearts bleed, so grazie Walter for bringing this boy home.
Similar transfer like Kevin. Started his Roman career with a blast and continued his splendid form for over two seasons. This season he seems a bit gassed, but form is temporary, class is eternal. His price tag of 40 million is not exaggerated by any means, very valuable for this side and it clicks between Radja and the city as well. He ignored Chelsea and Juve and chose to stay with Roma. Thanks to his transfer (or should I say thanks to Walter? to the capital in 2013, he also became an integral part of Belgium's NT, even with competition of Dembele, Witsel and Fellaini. Has nearly collected 100 Serie A games for Roma since January 2014 and a home run from Sabatini in the winter mercato.
Oh boy, now we get to the emotional ones. Lamela was brought in during Walter's first season in charge. In his latest interview he also mentioned Erik. He was just a teenager when he joined Roma and didn't really set the league on fire just yet. In his second season he scored 15 goals in 33 games and earned a transfer to Tottenham, for double the amount that Roma paid back in 2011. Economically we did good business, but imagine if Erik was still at Roma, alongside the likes of Totti, Salah, Peres, SES and Strootman... I don't really feel bad when I see former Roma players at other clubs ('c'est la vie'), but it's such a shame his Roman career lasted only two seasons. We discovered a true gem. Pardon me, Walter discovered a true gem.
Yup, it keeps getting harder. I don't have to explain his case and how he left us to join the bandits from Turin. Possibly one of football's best deals on a deadline day (August 31). In five seasons Miralem went on to play more than 150 games for the Giallorossi, including dozens of goals and assists. His last season arguably was his best. In 2013 Walter grabbed him from Lyon for only 11 million euros, an absolute steal and one of his best night moves no doubt. Was sold with reasonable profit but not enough considering his value to us. Still, thank you Walter for this truly special player.
Talking about a diamond in the rough. A 18-year-old Brazilian boy followed Walter to Roma in the Summer of 2012 where he met a certain Zdenek Zeman. The rest is history. Zeman, known for his fetish for young intruiging players, put him in the starting line-up next to Castan and finished with 26 appearances in season 2012-2013. Marcos oozes with talent and after only one season he was sold to PSG for over 30 million. Rarely has a player improved his value in such a short span. Ok, so he played less games for us than a Lamela or Pjanic, but he was such a sight to behold and at such a young age. Superb piece business from Sabatini, at the top of his game.
Honorable mentions: Manolas, Salah, Balzaretti, Benatia, De Sanctis, El Shaarawy
Silent as the grave: Ibarbo, Goicoechea, Emanuelson, Bastos, Ucan
So guys, this was my choice. Let me know who was your Saba favorite and/or biggest disappointment below in the comment section.