Lost amid all the Francesco Totti renewal hoopla was a rather under-the-radar-but-potentially-significant acquisition made yesterday, Roma's reported signing of Juventus impending free agent Martin Caceres. La Gazzetta dello Sport broke the news, such as it is, early yesterday that Roma has reached a three year accord with the versatile Uruguayan defender.
The key indicators there are 'but' and 'reportedly', words that make me simultaneously love and loathe this time of year. However, PDF or Die has become a CdT axiom for a reason; transfers aren't real until they are. It sounds stupid, but if we ran back the list of players Roma reportedly signed over the past two to three summers alone, we'd be here a while.
If, however, we take GDS at their word, what kind of player has Roma just signed?
Caceres, 29-years-old, is a center back by trade but has played fullback at varying times throughout his career. While Caceres has never been the world's greatest defender, nor has he ever even been a regular starter, what he lacks in public acclaim, he more than makes up for in experience.
Having made his senior debut with Uruguay at only 20-years-old, Caceres has already appeared in two World Cups and has been playing top flight European football since 2008 when Barcelona snapped him up for €16.5 million. However, stuck behind the likes of Rafa Marquez, Carles Puyol and Gerard Pique, Caceres wasn't long for Barca.
After shuffling back and forth between Juventus and Sevilla for parts of three seasons, Caceres finally settled in Turin for good in 2012, but it's been anything but a breeze since then. Whether it was due to simple tactical decisions, his litany of leg injuries (ranging from ankle surgeries to achilles reconstruction) or even drunk driving (but hey, who among us hasn't crashed their Ferrari into a bus stop?), Caceres has found playing time hard to come by over the past several seasons.
Initially, this reported move reminded me of Roma's capture of Nicolas Burdisso in 2009. Here was another versatile yet somewhat underwhelming South American central defender being cast off by one of Italy's traditional powerhouses and finding his way to Rome. The difference, of course, was that Burdisso came with far less baggage and his ligaments in tact, and, if we're being honest, he was simply a better player than Caceres.
So, if I can sum up my reaction to this move, it would be 'meh' This dude's achilles completely ruptured in January, so we don't even know if he'll be ready to go by August, but even a hobbled and humbled Caceres is probably a better reserve than Norbert Gyomber or Leandro Castan (sadly); we simply don't know if Castan can even play anymore. Caceres is an intelligent defender, one who is comfortable with the ball at his feet and one who presumably will be eager to prove he can still play at a high level, so there is a tremendous amount of upside to this move, don't get me wrong.
In any event, the GDS reports Roma will sign Caceres to a three-year deal, though the exact terms were not released. However, given his injury history and his age, we can only presume he'll be pretty cheap, and for a team suddenly watching their wage bill, that might be the biggest victory of all, though can't you just see Walter giving this guy €2 to €3 million per year on reputation alone?