So much speculation, so little reliable information. This time of year is the absolute worst for AS Roma fans. Wait, maybe December and January is. Or March. Yeah, March is usually pretty bad. Mind you sometimes October isn’t great… let me try and start this again.
This time of year is objectively unpleasant for fans of AS Roma.
To alleviate some of the understandable anxiety during the silly season, let’s take a stroll outside of Pinzolo and have a look at how Roma’s rivals on the peninsular are shaping up.
One of the easier teams in Serie A to dislike, Inter have done their darnest to maintain a frosty relationship with Roma by snatching Luciano Spalletti from the capital club. After a scandalously inconsistent 2016-17 the Nerazzurri are putting the pieces together for a serious tilt at the coming season.
Inter, like Roma, had to deal with FFP demons before they could sort out their summer wish list and promptly jettisoned Ever Banega, Gianluca Caprari and Senna Miangue, to do so.
Walter Sabatini has so far acquired Fiorentina’s Borja Valero, someone Spalletti has held a candle for over the last two years, and Slovakian defender Milan Skriniar.
The main INTERest (haha!) of their transfer campaign remains the ‘will they or won’t they’ speculation regarding the sale of Ivan Perisic to Man UTD for silly money. Such a move has tumble rolled into posturing to acquire Domenico Berardi as well as uncomfortable suggestions of a massive tilt at Radja Nainggolan.
Inter’s squad as currently constructed is scary enough to be termed a legitimate threat to Roma’s currently occupied Champions League position. Add to this Spalletti and possibly another A-Grade signing and it is this humble scribe’s opinion that they can challenge Juventus for a shot at the title. However, losing Perisic and settling for anyone below Radja will see them nestle back into the chasing pack.
The sheer lunacy behind the scenes with De Boer and then Pioli played a definite role in their seventh place finish last year. As such, the shady Suning Group have taken concrete steps toward fulfilling their ambitions to return Inter to the summit of Serie A and back into being a European contender.
The defence, however still appears a touch of class below what would be necessary to do so.
Rating: Be alert, not alarmed... for now.
AC Milan is dead. Long live AC Milan.
The decline of this storied Serie A team has been a source of consternation amongst the footballing world for a number of years. In 16/17 the Diavolo were in the curious position of being widely admired as a refreshingly young, Italian heavy side that played the beautiful game. Alas this admirable project of patience has been torpedoed and in its place is a shiny and expensive assembly of jewels that wouldn’t look out of place as decorations at a Bunga Bunga party.
The new Milan owners are a re-financed Silvio Berlusconi in disguise!
Just cop an eye full of these signings:
Andre Silva – 38M from Porto
Andrea Conti – 25M from Atalanta
Hakan Calhanoglu – 22M from Beyer Leverkusen
Rocardo Rodriguez – 17M from Wolfsburg
Mateo Musacchio – 18M from Villarreal
Franck Kessie – 8M (loan) from Atalanta
Oh and some guy called Fabio Borini
Did I mention they just resigned the heir to Buffon’s throne, Gigio Donnarumma and are also still circling for Aubameyang? (For the record, they’re more likely to get Kalinic).
The only thing they didn’t go top shelf on was a new coach, as Roma’s own Vincenzo Montella retains the reigns for what has got to be the hottest seat in Italy this year.
While the expectations will be for this Milan side to hit the ground running, the realities of Serie A will probably make 17/18 a development year where they should be aiming to regain their spot in the Champions League and get ahead of their neighbours, Roma and Napoli. I think it is a touch premature to anoint them as a challenger to Juve just yet as it’ll take some time for Montella’s youngsters to mesh with the smorgasbord of new arrivals.
With that said, a strong Milan is a good thing for Serie A and the fashion capital appears to have awoken from its beauty sleep.
Rating: Suspiciously good looking.
The minimal movement both to and from Napoli during this offseason has the Patrenopei adopting the anti-Roma strategy of maintaining Sarri’s squad into 2017/18. Last season they were nearly unplayable at times, producing some of the most attractive football on the continent, all while their first choice number nine was out injured.
Another year under the stern tutelage of Mister Sarri should see Napoli maintain their balls-to-the-wall style of play that will shred to pieces the lesser teams and probably struggle against their peers. The inclusion of Mario Rui will be a negligible footnote while Duvan Zapata looks like he is going to be sold to Torino.
The key of course will be the reintegration of Milik to the starting line-up alongside the terrific trio of Mertens, Callejon and Insigne.
And that’s about it. Bugger all drama and controversy, just quiet confidence and continuity. I can’t believe I just wrote that about a team owned by ADL.
Rating: If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.
The team that needs no introduction will once again be the benchmark for the Italian neo-Renaissance of season 2017/18.
The scariest thing is that despite winning yet another Double, by losing the Champions League final to Real Madrid, Juventus failed to achieve their ambitions for last year. The subsequent lack of movement in the ‘Transfers Out’ column will leave plenty of pundits predicting another Serie A landslide for the Old Lady.
The evil Agnelli Empire’s latest acquisition was none other than Douglas Costa of Bayern Munich and Brazil fame. Meanwhile, the rumours are running hot that it is just a matter of time before the greedy black and white horde snatch up Federico Bernardeschi, to complement their immoral stable of pretty much every young Italian player who appears remotely likely to come good in the next decade. Woj Schez baby also looks set to adopt the keeper duties during Buffon’s absences and the midfield steel of Blaise Matuidi might still be added before the month is out. Add to this the possibility Patrik 'Razor Man' Schick might still be acquired before the month is out and it's fair to say that the dark black and white cloud smothering Serie A doesn't appear to be dissipating anytime soon.
On the other end of the scale, Dani Alves has been gifted to PSG and Chelsea are hot on the heels of Alex Sandro, with the latter being far from a certain departure at this stage.
Do they look weaker this year? Well maybe if they lose Sandro, but the addition of Douglas Costa is a firm kick to the groin of any would be Scudetto aspirants in Italy. The hardest part to process though is their seemingly never ending monopoly on the best youth players around the country.
But their new logo is stupid.
Rating: Loathsomely strong.
So there you have it. Will Milan keep on spending like a drunk sailor? Have Inter done enough to rise again? Will Napoli score twice as many as they concede? Is there such a thing as having too much money and too many good players and can Juventus catch it?
But more importantly, how will Monchi and EDF's Roma stack up in this new look Serie A?