As is often the case in controversial transfers, the passage of time reveals greater details. Miralem Pjanic's impending move to Juventus was, a mere 48 hours ago or so, an unmitigated failure of Roman management, but it is slowly morphing into an amorphous amalgam of Pjanic's greed and Roma's lack of foresight. Don't get me wrong, I am by no means absolving James Pallotta and company of any blame in this scenario (more on that in a minute), but these latest developments paint a slightly different picture
Before we parse out the blame, let's take a quick look at what Beppe Marotta and Mauro Baldissoni had to say on this developing situation. First up, Baldissoni, who relayed a personal note Pjanic delivered to the club on June 9th that reads as follows:
With this note I inform you that I intend to activate my right to be transferred to another club, as agreed beforehand
I also tell you my intention to send the 20 per cent of my share of the transfer fee directly to the club that will buy my contract, which I specifically inform you is Juventus.
I thank you and urge you to make contact to finalise the necessary contractual formalities
Juve chief Marotta further unmuddied the waters by confirming Pjanic's desires, saying
The Pjanic operation was concluded with the push of the player, who strongly wanted the transfer to Juventus by activating the release clause he had already stipulated with Roma
Pjanic himself facilitated the operation by deciding to forego the percentage of that sum he would've been due
So there you go. Not only was Pjanic the driver behind this move, he actually made the magnanimous gesture of forgoing his 20% cut to save the Old Lady some money, giving Roma what, fifteen minutes notice?
I'm no expert on Italian history, but Miralem Pjanic just cast himself as the Benedict Arnold of AS Roma. So take all his Tweets, 'Grams and protestations of his love for the club, the city, and his teammates and flush them down the toilet. Miralem Pjanic should officially be dead in your eyes. Thank you for your service, Miralem. Don't let the door hit ya where the good lord split ya.
The timing of this transfer, coupled with today's revelations, makes it difficult to discern the real impetus of this move, beyond Pjanic's desires of course. Was this the much ballyhooed FFP sale, or would this have happened regardless of pending UEFA sanctions? Did Pjanic take advantage of Roma's predicament to orchestrate a move to their most bitter rival? Was there time to reach out to Barcelona or Real Madrid? Would this have happened if Antonio Rüdiger never got injured?
Sadly we'll never know these answers and Pjanic, once one of the most beloved non-Romans to suit up for the club in recent memory, is now correctly cast as a villain. Sure, it still would have stung had he moved abroad, but given the circumstances we just discussed, it's hard to see this as anything other than Pjanic exploiting Roma's financial predicament (and Rüdiger's injury)--seizing on their FFP deadline for his own gain, eviscerating the hearts of Roma fans in the process by moving to Juventus. If he loved the city and the club as much as he claimed, surely he could have waited the ten days or so it would have taken to lure any of the Spanish giants into negotiations, right?
Pjanic's legacy is done and dusted, so let's talk a bit about the club's complicity in this situation. While Pjanic's letter reveals just what a quagmire the club was in, it was of their own doing. Choose whatever adage you prefer--you reap what you sow, you made your bed now lie in it--they all apply. Roma were the architects of their own destruction.
By blowing tens of millions on ill advised purchases and loan fees--Seydou Doumbia, Victor Ibarbo, Juan Iturbe, Salih Uçan to name a few--Roma set forth the instruments of their own demise, thereby creating the conditions Pjanic just exploited.
Crazy as it might sound, I still have faith that this management can, so to speak, get Roma back to zero; to a point where they can begin to build towards their lofty goals, but they have a sick affliction in which they can't seem to get out of their own way; they're like an honor roll student with a penchant for crystal meth. Yeah, you talk a good game, but you have an entrance exam tomorrow morning, and instead of studying and getting a good night's rest, you're chasing the dragon in a Walmart parking lot--it just doesn't equate.
The things they say and the things they do are so often at odds, it makes you wonder if there isn't some sort of Manchurian Candidate situation going on here--is James Pallotta a Juventus agent in disguise, tantalizing us with competence, yet enervating us at the worst possible moment, just when it seems we're ready to take the leap forward?
And all this is now set against an even drearier backdrop; the news that Chelsea are prepared to hand over €45 million for Radja Nainggolan. Sell who you want, but you do realize that you still have a relatively new coach (to this set of players) and Champions League playoff looming, right? There are benefits to continuity, a fact Roma continually ignores to their own peril.
So while we can, should and will revile Miralem Pjanic for the rest of his playing career, don't forget Roma's role in this whole mess. You can't set up an elaborate array of dominoes and get mad when the toddler topples them; it's their nature. You're the adult, you're supposed to know better.
Roma is in dire need of parenting classes.