It’s easy to be an expert in hindsight, so let’s just aim for exactly that with this 2018 review. Full-on unapologetic armchair-DS expertise. Move over, Monchi.
We pour question marks over the Roma defence reinforcements, along with a cameo (because we wouldn’t want to ask for more of him) from Javier Pastore.
Ivan Marcano In - (from Porto - Free)
What to say about Ivan Marcano’s half-year in Rome? You don’t just become a bad player overnight, but we’re baffled by what we’ve seen from the Spanish defender up until now. Porto’s former league-winning captain must be wishing he’d just stayed where the going was good for him, instead of upping sticks to the Italian capital.
Marcano’s Roma debut came against AC Milan, where he was beaten at the back post by Franck Kessie for the opening goal in the 2-1 loss at the San Siro. Then Marcano was fielded, nearly a month later, as auxiliary left-back against Bologna to shield Diego Perotti from having to do too much defending on the Argentine’s return from injury. The cautious lineup on that day turned moot when Marcano duly got himself turned and beaten man-for-man for Bologna’s opening goal.
Some weeks later, Marcano would play an entire game in a home defeat to SPAL. His Champions League debut for Roma wasn’t much better. An away defeat to Viktoria Plzen was marked by Marcano, once again, running back to goal while leaving Plzen’s forward uncontested for the finish.
Just sticking a leg in and making a tackle would have been nice, but then again everything Marcano touches turns to losses.
The only game where Marcano has come out on the winning side for Roma was 45 minutes played in the 4-0 win against Frosinone. Keep in mind that Marcano has better stats in most defensive categories than Juan Jesus so far this season, but if you come undone more often man-for-man then it’s hard to win the trust of your teammates or your coach.
Arturo Calabresi Out (to Bologna - €200,000)
I haven’t seen any-bar-one Bologna game this season, so this hindsight reeks of stats. But I asked in the loan reviews last year: Should Calabresi have been given a shot with Roma?
Calabresi recovered the promise of his career in early 2018, escaping a loan-gone-wrong at Spezia for a decent run with Foggia before returning to Trigoria. By then, rumours were already abound of Bologna’s interest in the Roman defender for 5 million euro fee.
Instead, Calabresi was basically let go by his hometown club.
Since then, the defender has racked up a better interception rate than Juan Jesus (while only marginally behind Ivan Marcano). And Calabresi’s clearance rate is better than both Jesus and Marcano, while Calabresi covers two different positions (centre-back and right-back) to decent effect throughout his young career so far.
Now stats can be deceiving. Bologna were on a losing streak before Calabresi finally made his Serie A debut against none other than Roma in a 2-0 for Bologna. But everyone who saw that game knows Roma blew several wide open chances on goal; the defending from both sides was nothing to write home about even if Calabresi’s introduction coincided with Bologna finally picking up Serie A points.
And Calabresi has been appearing - like Elio Capradossi before him - as an Italian U-21 international defender this past November.
Javier Pastore In - (from Paris Saint-Germain - €25 Million)
There’s one mystery over Pastore’s transfer that remains unsolved - and Roma-based newspaper Leggo keep running this story every few weeks about it.
Was Pastore’s transfer fee bankrolled by Roma or Qatar Airways?
Leggo claim Qatar Airways was behind the transfer fee, but no one else has backed this story. We’ll have to wait until next summer to see how Pastore’s fee looks on the books, if anyone cares.
Either way, as much as we’d like to look for some hidden logic behind this bust of a transfer, it can’t distract from the fact Pastore was signed onto a 5-year contract at 3.5 million euros per season.
That sort of commitment demands you play the guy and get decent form out of him on the pitch, neither of which look like happening while Pastore is third choice for his position behind Lorenzo Pellegrini and Nicolo Zaniolo.
And that, from both an armchair-DS perspective and a fan-of-Pastore perspective, is just ugly. Real ugly. Let’s hope Pastore is at least tutoring these guys in training, because Totti knows Roma’s technical game has been lacking for too many seasons now.
Stay tuned for the flip-side, Roma's best transfers of 2018!