Despite the lack of actual transfers this month, few teams in Serie A were busier than Roma during this transfer window. Starting with the ousting of Rudi Garci, the Giallorossi seldom took a day off during January, stripping the house down to the studs ahead of what figures to be a massive rebuild over the summer. But since Roma is within shouting distance of Italy's European spots next season, they had to at least had to dust off the spackling knife, get out the mud and throw up some cheap sheet rock to make the house look presentable. So, in that spirit, let's take a quick look at Walter Sabatini's winter work.
The mere fact that Sabatini was able to offload the perpetually frustrating Gervinho and the eternally underachieving Juan Iturbe for a profit is almost reason enough to give the man a lifetime contract, that is until you remember he was responsible (to varying degrees) for those messes to begin. But we'll give credit where it's due, including temporarily ridding Roma of Seydou Doumbia, Sabatini was able to jettison three redundant and unwanted assets in relatively short order.
Stephan El Shaarawy
A gamble of the highest order, El Shaarawy can either make or break Roma over the next six months. His first foray in the Roman shirt couldn't have gone any better: SES was active, intuitive and effective in Roma's 3-1 victory over Frosinone on the weekend. El Shaarawy is both the kid who lit the league on fire three years ago and the one who was effectively banished shortly thereafter.
We simply don't know where his Roma career will lie on that spectrum, but our first glimpse was awfully tantalizing. In the short term, look for El Shaarawy to feature prominently in Spalletti's plans throughout the remainder of this season. With Edin Dzeko and Mohamed Salah mired in horrific slumps, SES may be Roma's most effective finisher up front.
I can't front, I didn't know this kid from Adam when Roma landed him late last week. Sure, the measurable were good--he's tall, strong, athletic and proficient in the passing game--but he wasn't exactly what you'd call a world beater. Much like El Shaarawy, or anyone I suppose, his time in Roma could be boom or bust. In the short run, he brings size, athleticism and some much needed accurate crossing to Spalletti's designs.
I think we've covered him enough over the past 48 hours or so, right? In summation, he's probably not going to develop into a star player, but his skillset is versatile and transferrable, so he should have no problem finding a role with the club, but is €10 million the going cost on backup utility players these days? He could rediscover the form that made him a highly regarded prospect several years ago, or he could wallow on the bench and become Iago Falque 2.0--we simply don't know and it's going to cost ten million to find out
Nicola Falasco and Ismail H'Maidat
In the Serie A equivalent of hiring your wife's nephew, Roma signed Falasco, a 22-year-old fullback most recently playing for Lega Pro side Pisotiese, and then promptly sent him on loan to Cesena. In a similarly structured move, Roma grabbed the 20-year-old Dutch/Moroccan midfielder from Brescia and immediately loaned him to Ascoli.
Wrapping it Up
It doesn't take a genius to deduce this one; the success or failure of Roma's winter market depends largely on the performance of El Shaarawy, who has a more defined role than either of Roma's other new acquisitions this winter. While Zukanovic and Perotti each have the potential to surprise, neither has the youth, potential or impact ability of El Shaarawy, whose early returns could very well determine the future of Walter Sabatini.
While that's all well and good, Roma's defense remains woefully thin behind the starters, while their wide attacking options are once again curiously congested.
So, what do you think, did Sabatini do enough this month to earn back your trust?