Back in my college days, one of my great delights was driving up to the corner store, grabbing a 30 pack of Keystone Ice (because iced beer gets you drunker, right?) and slapping a tenner on the counter. Securing my weekend's inebriation for the price of a grande meal at Taco Bell was simply too good to pass up, quality be damned. But that's what you do when you're a student struggling to make ends meet; seek out deals and buy in bulk.
And much like a miserly undergrad, Roma is taking the bulk approach when it comes to outfitting their defense for next season. With Antonio Rüdiger out for the foreseeable future and with Lucas Digne unlikely to come back, Kostas Manolas figures to be the only returning member from last season's back line (for the sake of this argument, we'll consider Alessandro Florenzi's position to be fluid). Given this dearth of defenders, Roma are casting a wide net.
How wide, you say? Let's ask Mauro Baldissoni
We will make Spalletti happy...Are we following any Swedish defenders? That's difficult to say, we are tracking at least 30 defenders, so it's a long list...
A long list indeed. So while Radja Nainggolan and the rest of Belgium's Red Devils attempt to subdue the Irish, let's take a look at a few of the names on the list, shall we?
Pros: Has Serie A experience, is a decent two-way player and his name is almost Rui Costa.
Cons: Can't really pull of the undercut and Ponce De Leon moustache look, oh, and it looks like Roma may lose him anyway.
Pros: Had a solid debut season for Roma, scoring three goals and chipping in five assists in all competitions while providing competent defense. His future is definitely bright.
Cons: Besides being French (I kid, I kid), he's not the strongest kid in the world, nor is he cheap; PSG are holding firm in their valuation for Digne and, to date, haven't been willing to meet Roma half way.
Pros: Experience defending the weak, the infirmed and unsuspecting, has an attractive half-sister and prior resurrection experience.
Cons: Bastard. Short. Prone to violent outbursts and rash challenges.
Pros: Serie A experience, we can call him JJ.
Cons: Have you seen him play?
Pros: Knows the value of a vowel.
Cons: It isn't 2013.
Pros: NBA's most famous shot blocker, noted humanitarian, hilarious voice.
Cons: At 7'2" tall, it might be hard to find decent shin pads.
Pros: He likes to be called Nacho.
Cons: He's short and not that good.
Pros: Versatile, familiar with Luciano Spalletti, solid defender and Italian ginger.
Cons: Lot's of suitors, could be expensive.
Pros: Fought the Iron Sheik, has own GI Joe action figures.
Cons: Committed treason during Desert Storm. Teamed up with Macho Man Randy Savage to take down the Ultimate Warrior.
Pros: Young, tall, versatile, good touch.
Cons: I don't want to have to type Borussia Monchengladbach every time we mention him.
Where Do We Go From Here?
This was obviously a tongue-in-cheek exercise, but the very fact that they're scouting 30 defenders says it all, doesn't it? This management has no idea what its doing or where to turn, which will result in yet another massive overhaul this summer. While I'll credit them for doing their due diligence on the market place, the value of continuity appears lost on this administration.
When you can't or won't pay up for top defenders, this is what you're left with; assorted bits and pieces. Roma's defense is like a toddlers lego collection: lots of disparate, once shiny parts, none of which fit together. And the proverbial father, the one that constantly steps on the pieces in his barefeet and is responsible for cleaning up the mess, is all of 25-years-old.
So, good luck Kostas, you're going to be quite busy next season, but don't worry, you'll be in Chelsea before long.