For all the grief we gave Walter Sabatini around here—some of it deserved, some not—he did leave Roma with a few lovely parting gifts. Although they were somewhat head scratching moves at the time, last winter’s capture of Stephan El Shaarawy and Diego Perotti turned out to be master strokes. While each of those players were gambles of different sorts, they were known commodities; they had proven Serie A experience. The same could not be said of Federico Fazio.
Captain Caveman, who spent the previous years bouncing between Sevilla and Tottenham, looking decidedly average for both sides, to put it mildly, seemed like a lost cause and a wasted opportunity. A point that was not lost on me, as I was rather skeptical of this signing:
Fazio’s career started off promising enough with Sevilla, garnering over 100 La Liga appearances over parts of four seasons. However, both his appearances and quality of play have declined over the past few years, reaching its nadir this past season where he only made six appearances for Sevilla.
At this point, Fazio’s greatest gift may simply be his ability to breathe
Listen, I get that he’s meant to be a backup, but considering all the question marks in Roma’s defense, shouldn’t their acquisitions be based on more than pure curiosity?
Ouch. Lo Siento, Federico. Lo Siento indeed. However, to my credit, I realized how wrong I was in mid-October, right about the time Fazio really settled into his role as Roma’s number two centre back, playing the calm, statuesque counter to Kostas Manolas’ raving lunacy, and I mean that in the best possible way.
Well, here we are four months after his signing, and Fazio is averaging 1.6 tackles, 5.7 clearances and a club leading 2.9 interceptions per match, all while winning an astounding 78% of his tackle attempts and 81% of his headers. Quite simply, he is a man who knows how to play to his own strengths, using his size and timing to offset whatever he might lack in sheer athleticism.
And now he’s all Roma’s. After meeting the appearance clause in his initial €1.2 million loan deal, Roma will hand over an additional €3.2 million to Spurs, giving Roma an above average starting center back for the low, low cost of €4.4 million.
Now this is part where, as a conscientious Roma fan and writer, I must warn you that we’ve seen this movie before. As fans of this club, we’ve seen our fair share of players look brilliant for six to eight months (Gervinho, Mattia Destro and Marco Motta to name a few) only to flame out a year or so later. I’m not saying that will happen, but sleep with one eye open.
Fazio was always a pretty well regarded prospect and got off to a well enough start with Sevilla, but as the weeks roll by and he continues to cement his place in Roma, it begins to look as if he was simply never suited for the Premiership, making Spurs loss Roma’s gain.
So, officially and finally, welcome aboard Federico, you’re well on your way to adopted Roman status.