With transfer season approaching, and with so many rumors inundating us on a daily basis, now is the time to take stock. What does Roma have? What do they need? What can they afford to lose? How much can they afford to spend? Granted, these questions are present each and every summer, but Roma's torrid second half of the season has increased expectations around Trigora, heaping additional pressure on the club's comings and goings this summer.
With that in mind, I thought I'd assemble the news team, open up the pantry and take inventory. So here we go, a barrage of questions about Roma's current assets.
Let's start off with what Roma has. Give us one player they should sell outright, and one player they should loan.
Bren: This one is a bit tough to answer so early in the summer, but if Luciano Spalletti gets his wish and brings back Wojciech Szczesny, then Alisson must be loaned out; wasting him on the bench is a recipe for disaster, beyond him, I think Ezequiel Ponce has earned some senior team minutes with some club. He likely won't crack Roma's rotation, but sending him out to a newly promoted side seems ideal. As far as who gets the boot, as much as it pains me to say, I'd have to go with Ljajic; I just don't see how he fits in now that Diego Perotti has established himself.
Kevin: Roma should definitely sell Iago Falque. Since Luciano Spalletti's arrival, Falque's been a bench player, and it doesn't look like that's changing anytime soon. While Roma probably wouldn't fetch the market price for him, any bit of cash seems like it will help this summer. Also, there's more than a few homegrown Italian products that could easily replace Falque. As for a player that should be loaned, I have to go with Ezequiel Ponce as well. A one or two year loan spell would do Ponce wonders.
Jimmy Miotto: I completely agree with Kevin that Falque is one of the players most likely to get the boot, but beyond him I'm going to have to go with Seydou Doumbia, He of the Ivory Coast and the Russian Tundra. His half-season here was painful to watch, and the back-and-forth that's gone on between him and Sabatini has made it incredibly clear that he will never play a match in Rome ever again. As for who's leaving on a more temporary basis, I personally hope that Ponce stays here next season and that Elio Capradossi gets loaned out to somewhere like Crotone (low-level Serie A club or Serie B club very likely to be promoted). I don't see much space for him at center-back if we keep Rudiger and Manolas (crossing my fingers there), and he has looked promising whenever I've watched the primavera. A season in a Serie A center-back rotation could reveal a diamond in the rough.
NANF: Loan: Ponce is most likely. He needs the minutes coming back from injury and a step up from Primavera. Keep him in Serie A and I'll be happy. Really I just want to watch the kid play again, it has been to long. Sell: Dzeko, cut our losses moving forward and move on.
JonAS: There a few names that can and will probably leave Roma, but if I had to chose one then I'm going for Doumbia. He'll bring in the most cash because let's face it, if you forget his Roma period, his numbers still are amazing, also in Europe. So yeah, time to cash in. For the loan, I'd go for Ponce. Gerson might sneak into the first team sooner or later if he's as talented as they say, Ponce desperately needs to see some Serie A action. Just look at Paredes' stint at Empoli. We could have ourselves another gem in our hands by the start of season 2017/2018.
masonio: Doumbia, Ljajic & Iturbe are obvious pieces that need to be removed, but since we've been trying to rid them for at least a year already it's not really saying anything new. Džeko must go. Loan out Sadiq and any other kids graduating from the primavera.
Regardless of whether or not you want to loan him, what should Roma do with Gerson in the short term? Throw him to the wolves or bring him along slowly?
Bren: I don't know if this kid already has a nickname, but The Great Unknown seems fitting; we simply have no idea what this kid is or how he'll adapt to life in Rome, or if his dad will even let him leave for that matter, but if he's as legit as they say, I'd keep him around, especially if Pjanic sees his way out this summer.
Kevin: Ideally I'd want Roma to loan him out to a smaller club so he can get his feet wet in the league, but given the uncertainty surrounding a solid chunk of the midfield, it looks like he might have an integral role to play from day one. So In bocca al lupo, you Brazilian wonderkid, bring your big boy pants and come ready to play.
Jimmy: If the training pictures of Gerson from when met the senior team are any indication, Florenzi is already a fan of our new man of the moment, and if Alessandro's on board, I'm on board. Given the fanfare that surrounded his €16m transfer (and the bidding war with Barcelona that I'm still surprised we won), the logical assumption is that Gerson should be treated as a member of the first team from day one, and it won't bode well if he can't. I'm hoping he can be a vice-Pjanic or vice-Perotti from the beginning, with his role developing as he learns the ins and outs of Serie A.
NANF: Will Daddy even let him go on loan? Staying in Fluminense was dumb. I guess Roma take it slow maybe he can fill in for Vainqueur(who would have thunk this meant winner in French) and Ketia's minutes. Hopefully he sees more minutes then Ucan.
JonAS:Well, Rüdiger and ‘Hos also got thrown into the den of wolves and did just fine, why not Gerson? He's not a defender like the previous two and the midfield might be a little harder to perform than defence, but Roma's history with Brazilians is a rather positive one so yeah, might as well try it since we paid a whole lotta money for the damn kid. Thing is, mid is crowded with also Paredes returning... I'd like to see him in Perotti's role though, or a tricky winger ala Neymar.
masonio: I'm hoping for something better than the Uçan treatment.
Same question for Alisson. Is he ready to be Roma's number one immediately?
Jimmy: I'll have you know that Roma's current number one is Bogdan "Mancat" Lobont, and he ain't going nowhere! But seriously, if we bought Alisson to be anything other than Roma's number one immediately, this is a questionable transfer. Szczęsny, while a good stop-gap measure, should not be viewed as a long-term solution between the sticks, and buying him permanently while also signing Alisson would send mixed messages to both players.
Bren: Couldn't agree more, but if Woj is indeed back next season, this is yet another example of a disconnect between Spalletti and management. While Alisson waiting one year wouldn't be the worst scenario, it doesn't exactly communicate a faith in his abilities, right?
Kevin: While signing Szczesny permanently would indeed be sending mixed messages to both Woj and Alisson, I think there's some merit to bringing Arsenal's least favorite goalkeeper back for another year. Either that, or recalling Lukasz Skorupski from his Empoli loan to be backup. I'm well aware of the hype surrounding Alisson and believe he can be the answer immediately, but I still can't help but have bad flashbacks of Roma goalkeepers of the past. The position has been such a nightmare for so long that an insurance policy would make me feel better.
NANF: I know I'm in a minority but I would prefer our keeper speak Italian. Good skill set is only half the battle, but he needs to be able to command the back line more importantly. At least he is doing better than Gerson and is actually with the quad this summer and should be integrated by the start of the season. Good talent but I just can't see him starting next season though.
JonAS: Meh, Roma's keeper department isn't giving me the goosebumps until now. De Sanctis was exciting but Woj, Alisson... No, I don't see a real character in between the sticks. For me, Handanovic or Sirigu are still the pipe dreams. Throw Perin and Sportiello in there as well. Ideally, we go for Sirigu, extend Morgan's contract for one more season and loan Alisson out while letting Woj go back to Arsenal
masonio: There is only one way to find out if he's ready. Ideally, this transfer would have never happened.
As we're writing this, Lucas Digne remains in limbo. Is there a point at which he's cost prohibitive, or should Roma pull out all the stops to bring him back?
Bren: There's always a cost ceiling with players like this, but Roma's complete lack of other options tends to push that ceiling up, week by week and month by month. Between the initial loan and whatever it takes to redeem the remainder of his contract, I'd go as high as €20 million, simply because of the dearth of options at that position.
Kevin: I agree with Bren, the complete lack of other options at left back will force Roma's hand here. The reality is that there's only a handful of elite left backs in the world, and he could potentially become one of them. Emerson and Zukanovic are good rotation players, but I wouldn't trust them with a starting spot, and I'm not sure Roma could get a quality replacement for similar value on the market, at least at the moment.
Jimmy: There's definitely a point where Roma should cut bait, but he's most likely available for less than that. I agree with both Bren and Kevin when saying that a lot of this comes down to who else Roma could possibly buy - pickings are incredibly slim. The other option being touted by those in the know is Mario Rui, a 25-year-old Portuguese left-back playing for Empoli who's never been capped above the U-21 level. Compare that to Digne, who at 22 is a member of a France squad expected to go far in the Euros this summer. There's a major gap there, so unless Rui is a smokescreen and Saba has a young LB already performing at a high level waiting in the wings along the lines of Achraf Lazaar, Jose Gaya, or Ricardo Rodriguez, expect Digne back in Rome next season, most likely on a permanent basis. The supposed fee built into his loan contract is €16m, and I think that we'll end up redeeming him for that price.
NANF: Candela summed up my thoughts quite well a couple weeks ago. He is good but he isn't worth more than 9m. But do hope he is in a red and yellow shirt next season.
JonAS: You can always find dependable CB's, but fullbacks, boy, now that is a job that's far more difficult. Digne has exceeded my expectations in his first season, I'm all for owning him 100%. Why bring in another stranger while Lucas has already proven he can adapt to Serie A and even score a goal or two. Plus, he's popular, still young, a French international. There aren't a lot of (cheaper) alternatives out there. The risk of this move is 0.1%.
masonio: Imagine the alternative if we decide not to keep him in Roma. That's what I thought.
On a scale of 1-10 (ten being the worst), how scared will you be if our starting fullbacks are Alessandro Florenzi and Gregory Van der Wiel next season?
Bren: Oof, I'll go 6, mostly because of VdW, who I have no problem with as a third fullback, but I think we can do better for a starting fullback pair. Ale seems to have it locked down for lack of other option, and as Ive said, Id rather he play there than be reduced to a role player, but whether its Digne or Criscito or someone else entirely, we can get a better starter than VdW.
Jimmy: 5 if we either used the money elsewhere or saved our other stars from getting plucked away, 7.5 otherwise. Sacrifices are most likely going to have to be made, and although I'd rather not have those sacrifices be made at arguably the squad's weakest point, if it means keeping Miralem Pjanic, Radja Nainggolan, Antonio Rudiger and Kostas Manolas, I'm (reluctantly) on board. If we end up selling even one of those guys regardless, then I'm much more worried.
Kevin: Well I have to go with a 10 here because to my knowledge, Alessandro Florenzi and Gregory Van Der Wiel both play right back exclusively... If Roma can't lock up Digne, Domenico Criscito would be a good/possibly cheap alternative at left back. As for right back, if an upgrade is too expensive, Roma should just rock with Florenzi back there for another season. That scenario would be a 4-5 for me on the scale, which I can deal with personally.
JonAS: 4. The rumors of VdW are true and he looks set to come to Rome. VdW actually was hailed as one of Ajax' best talents around 2008-2010. He's no world beater but c'mon, he's free and better than Torosidis or a 35-year-old Maicon. If he turns into a disaster, there's always January to straighten the situation. It is was it is, Roma can't afford Digne AND a rightback ala Peres or Dani Alves. Lock up Digne and save money by giving Gregory a shot. Plus, he has tattoos, awesome. And Strootman will love this move.
masonio: 8. I got over surrogate & bargain fullbacks a long time ago.
There's been a lot of talk about Antonio Rüdiger's future. Most of us love him, but give us one or two reasons why Roma might think of selling him.
Bren: I love the kid, so the only plausible scenario I can see is that they've already locked up a replacement and simply can't resist cashing and/or using those profits to upgrade other positions. Beyond that, perhaps they seem some giant flaw in his game that is waiting to be exposed and they want to cut the cord early?
Jimmy: Option 1: He's worn a Lazio kit as pajamas since birth. Option 2: We have the next Marquinhos in the wings, and we're gonna try really hard not to sell him this time. Promise!
Kevin: Precedent. Walter Sabatini's flipped plenty of center backs before, which will give Roma reason to believe it can be done again. Also, Rüdiger's knee injury and fear of that injury recurring could make the Roma brass second guess their investment.
NANF: Reason 1: money. Reason 2: what kind of summer would it be if Roma didn't sell at least one center back.
JonAS: Sweet easy money, that's for sure. And who knows, maybe they already got a replacement for Rüdiger in the waiting room. Or you know, Daniele turns into a CB and becomes the next Beckenbauer/Baresi!!! But to make myself clear about this situation: I'm all for keeping Antonio, I saw him live in action against Chievo, what a brilliant game from the German.
masonio: One reason is that it's exactly what this management does.
Okay, actual Romans excluded, give us two players Roma must retain at all costs.Two guys who are building blocks for the future.
Jimmy: Stephan El Shaarawy and Mohamed Salah, and not just because of the Arab fan base. Both Salah and El Shaarawy showed that they both had the ability to perform now and the potential to grow even more in the future. That scorpion kick goal that El Shaarawy used as his welcome to Roma will be in my head and my heart for quite some time, and his sheer determination to succeed this half-season is admirable - not to mention his potential to be a face of the Italian national team for quite some time. As for Salah, to paraphrase Francesco Totti, "If Gervinho had better shot selection, he'd be
Cristiano Ronaldo Mohamed Salah", except we did afford him and he's not even twenty-four.
Bren: Dang, I didn't even think of the "brand" component in this question, but it's hard to argue with you there. If we take the "build from the back" approach, I'd go Kostas Manolas and Rüdiger, but I'll meet you halfway and go Manolas and Salah, whose speed is just an absolute game changer, while Manolas is getting better by the minute.
Kevin: Kostas Manolas and Stephan El Shaarawy need to be retained at all costs, as they're both building blocks for the future. Manolas is an absolute rock in the back and arguably one of the best young center backs in the world. El Shaarawy can be a game changer up front, and oh by the way he's Italian!!!!
NANF: Radja and Kevin. Hard work is infectious and I think just having those two in the lineup would make whoever else is playing better. Finding players with the heart and grinta as Kevin and Radja is almost impossible to replace.
JonAS: Keita and Lobont, the true cornerstones of Roma for years to come! Nah, I'm joking. There are currently a lot of guys entering (or in their) prime so there's a lot of choice. I'll go for Pjanic and Radja because well, the midfield is probably the most important area of a football pitch. And those two are among the best in Italy, perhaps Europe. With those two on the pitch, Roma has an edge over most teams.
masonio: Mire Pjanic & Radja Nainggolan.
Leandro Paredes: bring him back or loan him out again?
Jimmy: At this point, I'm not convinced that loaning him out again is the alternative to bringing him back - it's more likely that Roma would sell him to any one of the clubs reportedly interested in him for a cool twenty million euros. I think we need to bring him back to see what he can do, as his ability to act as a good deep-lying playmaker can't be ignored. Factor in an aging Daniele De Rossi, a Kevin Strootman just getting off the operating table, and Nainggolan and Pjanic hearing the siren songs of the Premier League and Petro-Clubs, and it's a no-brainer: bring Leo back and see what he can do.
Bren: Well, I think they could get away with one more loan season, but any more than that and you risk losing him in the psychological sense. If Pjanic is back this year, then no way Paredes sees consistent minutes, but if PJ goes, the best course of action would seem to be Paredes + a veteran.
Kevin: Bring Leandro Paredes back! I think Roma may run the risk of losing him psychologically with another year on loan, which is kind of what happened already with Antonio Sanabria. Paredes might not be a starter this year, but he'd certainly see minutes in the rotation, which would give him time to settle back into life in the capital.
NANF: Agreed with Bren.
JonAS: I think we'll have to wait to answer this question until the CL qualifiers. If CL comes back to Rome, keep Paredes. There'll be an abundance of games to play and Pjanic won't play every single minute between Coppa, Serie A and CL. You need a strong bench, just imagine if we had Paredes on the bench last season instead of Keita or Vainqueur, what a difference. If we fail to qualify, then loan him out again.Who gives about EL anyway? That way, Roma can fully focus on Serie A and a Coppa Italia final, Totti deserves a prize before he retires.
masonio: Loan him out unless Mire is sold.
Federico Ricci, Ezequiel Ponce or Antonio Sanabria, will any of these guys have an impact for Roma in the next 24 months or so?
Jimmy: I could definitely see Ricci and Ponce going on loan together at Crotone and giving us a situation similar to how well Berardi and Zaza developed for Juve at Sassuolo. I personally hope both get to stay with the first team, but going on loan to a Serie A club would probably help them have a greater impact for Roma in the long-term. They're not likely to get as many minutes with this squad, so if Spalletti knows that they won't see the light of day, he'd be wise to loan them out to Crotone and bring them back a year later to rule the roost. As for Sanabria, he will have a positive impact on Roma's checkbook.
Bren: Interesting comparison, Roma finding a de facto farm team would cure a lot our ails, but I think Ponce can hack it as Roma's reserve forward next season, but I wonder if that's what's actually best for him at this point in time, keeping in mind that he's fresh off an injury as well. One thing is for certain, he's too good for the Primavera now.
Kevin: While Sanabria will most likely be sold this summer, I can see Federico Ricci and Ezequiel Ponce back at Roma within the next 24 months. It would definitely be cool if Ponce and Ricci could both be at Crotone next season a la Domenico Berardi and Simone Zaza at Sassuolo and Juventus. You can never have enough chemistry on the pitch.
NANF: El Tank.
JonAS: Sanabria: sold in Summer to balance the books. Ponce: endless loan spells until contract expires and leaves for free. Ricci: famous Roma product who eventually doesn't make it and ends up in Bologna or Serie B. Bla bla bla yadda yadda yadda. Jeezs guys, know your club!
Finally, what do we with Adem Ljajic?
Jimmy: Send him back to Firenze, a city I just had the pleasure of visiting. He obviously performed at his best there, doesn't have a space in Roma's squad other than behind Diego Perotti and Gerson, and most likely won't have too many foreign suitors given his overall sub-par performances (and rumors of poor attitude during training) for Inter.
Bren: This is tough for me, after all he was one of our best players in 2014-2015, but I think he's the odd man out now thanks to Perotti's emergence. I could see him flourishing in the Bundesliga, mostly because I don't want to see him bite us in the ass again.
NANF: Honestly this is a real tough one. I'm just not sure. Be great to have him back, but he doesn't fit in anywhere. But I also don't think selling him gives a good return either. I'd chalk it up to bad management. Did they expect Perrotti and SES to not work out? It doesn't make sense from a management standpoint.
JonAS: Give him Dhaw's cellphone number so they can hang out together and lick Nutella from each other's bodies all night long .... Uhm, did I just type that?
Kevin: Sell him to the highest bidder.
masonio: If there is no club that wishes to buy or loan him, rescind the contract and be done with him for good. Boy, bye.
Look out for part two later this week in which we flipt the script: who should Roma bring in this summer.