We've taken Roma's management to task over their transfer strategies more times than I care to remember, but once again the club finds themselves in quite a pickle. Between Francesco Totti, Diego Perotti, Mohamed Salah and Stephan El Shaarawy, Roma's attack is fast, incisive and effective, so on the surface it appears that everything is copasetic. However, take a look at those names and you'll notice something is missing; a target man, someone who can shift the point of attack, offering a central counterpoint to all of Roma's pacey wide players. While Edin Dzeko was brought in to fill that role, his bloated salary and feckless finishing have only served to dull Roma's attack, as more often than not Dzeko was merely an expensive decoy.
The aforementioned pickle, as it were, rests in the overnumerousness of options at their disposal, which is simply a verbose way of saying that too many options is really no option at all. They would love to get rid of Dzeko, but who's taking that call? Ezequiel Ponce looks great, but he's young and recovering from a serious injury, no one knows who or what Kevin Mendez is while Sadiq Umar is a light breeze away from ending up in the Mediterranean.
The great unknown in all this, the ambiguity and the uncertainness is the puzzling Paraguayan, Antonio Sanabria. Is he the future or a financial line item? We covered this in greater depth back in March, but here are the highlights:
Sanabria's advantage is simple; thanks to his impressive loan spell with Gijon, we now have empirical evidence that he can succeed at the highest reaches of the game. Now whether or not that success translates over a longer term and in a different league remains to be seen, but give how much he's flourished this season, we can't simply dismiss him out of hand and assume he's not "fit for Italian football". Talent like this cannot and has not gone unnoticed--should they decide to sell, Roma will have no shortage of suitors.
And hey, wouldn't you know it, a suitor has emerged and has reportedly even struck a deal. GdS' bastardized English-language version reported yesterday that Spurs have agreed to a €15 million deal for Sanabria, though neither club has confirmed or even commented on it, though our sister site, Cartilage Free Captain, picked up on a quote from Sanabria's agent that at least verified contact with Spurs.
While that's all well and good, let's get to the heart of the matter: can this kid hack it in Serie A or is he overrated, to the extent a kid his age can be?
We touched on it back in March, but don't let his scoring record fool you. Yes, 11 goals is impressive for a kid his age, but over half of them came in two matches alone in December and early January, respectively. He's not overwhelmingly athletic, nor does he possess brute strength, but he knows how to move and how to put himself in position to score. Does that sound familiar? It should, that's Mattia Destro, who, you may recall, had his own breakout campaign at 20-years-old, scoring 12 goals for Siena.
Now, this isn't meant to dismiss Sanabria--as we mentioned back in March, his performance Gijon warrants a longer and closer look somewhere--but rather to check our expectations; there's nothing in his makeup that suggests a paradigm shifting, once in a lifetime striker; just a kid who knows the game and can score in bunches.
And sure, selling him at 20-years-old runs contrary to a lot of our criticism of management, but in this instance, Roma is dealing from a position of strength; Sanabria or not, Roma won't suffer for goals next season thanks in large part to El Shaarawy and Salah, both of whom are kids in their own right, so selling Sanabria doesn't necessarily bankrupt the club going forward.
But he still has loads of potential, which speaks to Roma's current predicament; they can't find Sanabria game time until they get rid of Dzeko, and if they get rid of Dzeko, they seem hell bent on getting a big(ish) name replacement, leaving Sanabria in limbo.
So, taking that into account and considering the remaining talent on the roster and the primavera, cashing in on Sanabria may not be as hazardous a move as it seems.