While Spring is upon us, I want to take a moment to harken back to the fall. There was a time, back in October or so, when it looked as though Juventus was destined to pull a Manchester United-like fall from grace, back when Torino looked like a legitimate contender for one of Italy's European places and back when the Scudetto seemed like a two-horse race between Fiorentina and Inter.
Ah yes, Inter Milan. Following the emergence of Mauro Icardi last season, Inter seemed primed for a rebirth. Not only did Roberto Mancini have a full summer of preparation under his belt, the club had armed him with several scintillating new recruits, including Stevan Jovetic, Ivan Perisic and Roma's very own Adem Ljajic. With that much attacking (and versatile) attacking talent, the Nerazzurri seemed primed to bring Juventus' run of domination to a screeching halt, leaving Roma drowning in their wake.
Fortunately for Roma, and well, anyone who hates Inter, the black and blues came back to reality, their once vaunted offense had been exposed for what it was; ineffective and inefficient. Samir Handanovic can only bail you out so many times; sooner or later, your offense has to show up.
So what am I getting at here, exactly? Simple, Adem Ljajic, once seen as the cherry on top of Mancini's sundae is now an expensive, and once again controversial, luxury to a team no longer in need of his services and seemingly ill equipped at handling his personality.
Reports have been trickling out for weeks now that, regardless of tactical or financial implications, that Ljajic wouldn't be long for Inter and would be forced to go back to Rome with his tail tucked in between his legs. While this may represent a missed opportunity for Inter fans (but really, who cares about them?), for many Roma fans this is akin to the most unrequited of loves realizing their true feelings for you.
While Ljajic isn't without his faults as a player, nor his detractors in and around Roma, you'd be hard pressed to find more players as loved as Ljajic in the Eternal City. Although is 14 goals in parts of two seasons won't bowl you over, the simple fact that Ljajic played, and played so well, and kept his mouth shut since arriving the summer of 2013 was enough to convince Roma fans that his time was soon coming.
The question of whether or not that prophecy comes true rests on one simple factor (well, beyond Inter's desire to retain him): would Luciano Spalletti have a use for him?
If we could find that elusive wormhole that would enable us to travel back in time, a 24-year-old Ljajic would seem like a gift from the gods to Roma circa 2007; a young, slick and gifted attacking player, one to complement Francesco Totti's enormous skills--call him a slightly less coked up version of Adrian Mutu.
But that was then and this is now, of course. With Stephan El Shaarawy, Mohamed Salah, Diego Perotti, Edin Dzeko and hopefully Francesco Totti filling the ranks, is there any place for Ljajic in next year's squad? Would his presence result in a reduction in minutes for any of those players, or have Salah, El Shaarway and Perotti left Ljajic in their respective wake already?
While this is an interesting and potentially tantalizing series of questions, it may ultimately prove academic. However, with a full season of Spalletti under their belts, Roma's ambitions are sure to be sky high, so the club will need a full slate of players.
But that's the thing about Nutella, it goes with anything.