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Salih Uçan to Return to Fenerbahçe

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After two years of rotting on the bench, Salih Uçan's brief time in Rome has come to an ignominious end. Here's why Roma is to blame.

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To call Salih Uçan a bit of an unknown commodity when Roma snapped him up two summers ago was a bit of an understatement. Familiar to only the most ardent of Turkish league fans, Uçan's time in Rome was marked more by his hairstyles than his playing style. Through no fault of his own, Salih Uçan's two years with Roma were an utter waste, another pock mark on the club's inability to foster young talent.

Uçan, you may recall, was signed from Fenerbahçe in the summer of 2014, and though the numbers on the back of his football card were relatively unimpressive, his pedigree was obvious. Here was a tall, lean and incredibly skilled midfielder ripe for the plucking. He was a ball of clay desperately waiting for someone to craft him into a finished product. Surrounded by superior teammates and making the jump to a more prestigious league, Uçan's future was laid out for all to see...until it wasn't.

While we all envisioned Uçan blossoming into the Turkish Toni Kroos before our very eyes, he garnered all of nine appearances (all comps) in two seasons, tallying a total of 228 minutes. Thats right, they gave approximately four hours of match time to a kid they were at one point prepared to invest €15 million in; four hours! over two years! On what planet is that smart management? What kind of ROI can be expected when you pay so little attention to your investment to begin with?

There is no excuse for this mismanagement. Uçan wasn't hurt, he wasn't a primadonna and he wasn't a failure; they didn't even given him a chance to fail--228 minutes in two seasons isn't stupid, shortsighted or even controversial, it's straight up neglect. Why waste the time pursuing him in the first place? Why enter into a two year loan? Why even entertain the thought of sinking €15 million in him if you had no intention of using him?

They neglected Uçan's development, his career and probably his feelings (he's a kid, he's sensitive), but more to the point, they neglected their own future. With Miralem Pjanic a step away from (insert wealthy club here), and with little beyond Leandro Paredes waiting in the wings, Roma suddenly has a gaping hole in their midfield. The brief glimpses we caught of Uçan were quite promising--he has the size, the vision, and the touch to be an impact player--yet rather than cultivate this talent, they left him rotting on the bench, thereby robbing themselves of a rotation player and potential starter.

Make no mistake, Roma's (mis)handling of Uçan is a failure of the highest order. Not only did they fail the player and his future, they failed themselves. Cup matches, games against newly promoted sides, blowouts, injuries, suspensions--there were ample opportunities to work Uçan into the mix over the past two years, and rather than cultivating this unique talent, they sat on their hands, instead trotting out the corpse of Seydou Keita, the banal William Vainqueur or the "oh isn't that cute, he's really trying" Iago Falque.

For a club that prides itself on being forward thinking, constantly harping on their grand plan, their vision and their initiative, their handling of Salih Uçan is indicative of an ignorance to all these things.