If that headline looks familiar, well, it should. Just last week we discussed Leandro Paredes’ ankle issues—a high sprain—which came at an incredibly inopportune time for club and player. With a bear of a schedule coming up, and with Paredes rounding into form, Lovely Leo’s burgeoning talents surely would have helped Roma weather their toughest storm of the season, and while their first test without Lovely Leo went swimmingly, the midfield depth is virtually non-existent in his absence.
Now, take all those concerns and issues and magnify them tenfold and you’ll begin to understand the trap into which Roma has just wondered. Edin Dzeko aside, there is no player more complicit in Roma’s success this season than Salah. With eight goals and four assists already this year—pushing his Roma career totals to 24 goals and 10 assists in all comps—Salah has proved that, beyond the shadow of a doubt, he is no mere flash in the pan.
So, in true Roma fashion, it’s quite fitting that he was done in by Thomas Vermaelen, a man who has became so redundant so rapidly, I honestly forgot he was on the roster. Vermaelen, who is perpetually a sneeze away from total ligament failure, inadvertently (we presume, you know how sneaky those Belgians can be) injured Salah during training, leading to Salah’s suddenly wonky ankle ligaments. Add it all up and between this and his AFCON duties, the Giallorossi will be Salah-less for damn near two months.
Making matters worse—and we’re not even talking about the Lazio, Milan and Juventus matches over the next two weeks—Stephan El Shaarawy, Salah’s nominal replacement, is suffering his own injury woes, leaving Juan Iturbe as the next man up. So, barring some sort of massive formational shift, or unless these Memphis Depay rumors prove true, Luciano Spalletti is in a bit of a pickle—change what’s been working or give the overlooked Iturbe some serious minutes in the most serious stretch of the season.
However, if he can somehow manage to jury rig Roma for a few weeks, scraping even as little as four points from the brutal Lazio-Milan-Juve stretch, this club may have more mettle than we thought. If not, well, then Thomas Vermaelen better be put into protective custody.