While we seldom shine the spotlight on Mohamed Salah in and of himself, there’s no denying the impact he’s had on Roma over the past season and a half. Blessed with nearly unparalleled speed, Salah has transformed the Giallorossi’s offense, pouring in 24 goals and 10 assists between his 50 or so domestic and European appearances in a Roma shirt. This season has been particularly prolific, as Salah has amassed eight goals and four assists in only 1,010 league minutes, putting him on pace for career highs in both categories.
So, it’s only fitting that he’ll be leaving the club for nearly six weeks this winter as he attempts to marshall Egypt to glory in the African Cup of Nations. While we can never fault a player for representing his nation in international play, chances are he’ll come back a little worse for the wear, and certainly worn down from a month and half of carrying his nation on his back.
Soldiering on without Salah was always meant to be a difficult task, one made more impossible in the wake of Alessandro Florenzi’s injury and the club’s utter lack of faith in Juan Iturbe, but soldier on they must. With the calendar year quickly coming to a close, speculation has run rampant that Roma will seek a short term solution on the transfer market, with Xherdan Shaqiri and Memphis Depay listed as recent possibilities.
Well, my friends, I’m here to throw another name on the fire, a familiar name at that, Alessio Cerci. Everyone’s favorite mop-topped Roman has been on the outside looking in since making a relatively big money move to Atletico Madrid during the summer of 2014. Fresh off the heals of a 13 goal 10 assist campaign for Torino, Cerci made the switch to the Calderon where he...umm...did not play well, scoring only one goal for Atletico before moving on successive loans to AC Milan and Genoa.
Having failed to impress with either Italian club, Cerci was forced to return to Madrid to waste away the remaining 12 months of his deal, leading many to speculate that another return to the peninsula is in the cards. While Lazio are seemingly close to snaring Cerci in their talons, it’s not exactly a sure thing. This past summer, Cerci did what any good Roman would do when Lazio comes calling; politely tell them to toss off, so perhaps his longing for home will grease the wheels in this reunion.
In retrospect, Cerci’s magical 2013-2014 season with Torino was probably an outlier, but he did grab four goals in only eleven matches with Genoa last year, putting 50% of his shots on target and converting 25% of those into goals, so the cupboard isn’t exactly bare.
However, make no mistake, Roma wouldn’t be getting the Cerci of old, but the local boy is still a pacey winger adept at cutting in from the right flank, one who could be a cheap, if not ideal, short term replacement for Salah, pasting over the cracks and providing the club with some depth once Mo returns.
Besides, wouldn’t you just love to see those curls marauding up and down the sidelines again? So much promise left unfulfilled, it’d be nice to see him make a mark with Roma, however small.