At this point, no matter how the remainder of the season unfolds, Walter Sabatini will leave (if he indeed does call it a day) one of the stranger legacies in the history of the club. Sabatini's masterstrokes were just that, masterful. Getting Erik Lamela, Marquinhos, and Kevin Strootman (among others) at reduced rates enabled Roma to compete in Serie A without the added influx of Champions League cash enjoyed by Napoli and Juventus. Similarly, like it or not, he did an equally impressive job selling those same assets for substantial profits.
Of course, Sabatini's resume is also filled with hideous pock marks. This is a man who thought it was a good idea to sign Seydou Doumbia and Victor Ibarbo, and in the same window no less. Then again, he completely (well not completely, we still have to get rid of them permanently) erased that acrimony by nabbing Stephan El Shaarawy and Diego Perotti this winter. Point being, Sabatini is a capable albeit risky gamble as Roma's sporting director.
So, it should come as no surprise that, amid uncertainty over Sabatini's future--he's simultaneously announced his leaving in June then backtracked--Roma president James Pallotta reportedly wants to overhaul the powers granted to his sporting director, no matter who it may be.
Football Italia via Gazzetta dello Sport and Corriere dello Sport picked up on this speculation, reporting:
The Corriere reports that the figure of the sporting director will lose most of its power and be replaced by a team that will coordinate with the President and the Coach.
Coach Luciano Spalletti will make most of the decisions as to which players to buy, and the transfer team will assist him. They will report also to Pallotta's right-hand man Alex Zecca, who will have the authority to weigh in on the transfer team's decisions.
Pallotta also wants new methods to be employed, with greater reliance on statistics and football data. Sabatini's reluctance to make full use of these methods is believed to be one of the reasons behind the split
This development, if true, is much like Sabatini's tenure in and of itself, a mixed blessing. While integrating more objectivity into Roma's transfer dealings may help us avoid another Juan Iturbe scenario, something about this smacks of too many cooks in the kitchen. You'll have the ostensible sporting director, the club president's errand boy, the club president himself and then Luciano Spalletti; the power dynamics in that set up are headache inducing, to say the least.
Who has the final say? Just how much authority will Douglas Stamper...I mean, Alex Zecca have? Is he there just to monitor and report, or is he Pallotta by proxy? So credit them for increased objectivity, but this could be a potential minefield for Spalletti and Sabatini's successor to traverse, one that could derail the whole operation once more.
Okay, guess what? We're not done yet.
After denying his resignation, Sabatini admitted that he hasn't been able to change Roma the way he wanted, citing, among other things, his inability to have daily contact with the club. But hey, throwing three more guys into the mix to usurp his authority is a great way to empower your sporting director's ability to effect change, right?
But let's set that aside for a moment. The next bit of news would see Sabatini turn right around and sell three of Roma's most intriguing prospects, Leandro Paredes, Sadiq Umar and Antonio Sanabria, with Manchester City, Borussia Dortmund and Atletico Madrid waiting in the wings, respectively.
Between those three kids, we're talking about (if previous rumors hold true) a potential €50 to €60 million in assets, and we're going to let a man you're effectively neutering make that call?
Nothing about these "developments" makes any sense, but then again, Roma's transfer business seldom makes sense. If I'm Sabatini I take my gold watch and move on.