Transfers are the bread and butter of sports analysis. Who’s going where? Is so-and-so going to get paid?
How much money will Liverpool spend to buy a star from Roma? All joking aside, we at CdT do care quite a bit about transfers, because barring the occasional and glorious Roman academy graduate they shape the team we watch week in and week out. So it makes sense as the year winds down to look at the highlights of Monchi’s summer spending.
Without further ado...
Third Best Signing, Summer 2018: Bryan Cristante
It may have taken him some time to gel at the Stadio Olimpico, but Bren’s favorite Italian-Canadian has certainly found his place as a Roma player, particularly this December. Cristante has three goals to his name in Serie A to date, but his significance on the field extends quite beyond that statistic. With the ball at his feet, Cristante has worked to pass the ball behind the opponent’s defensive line, and his pairing with fellow new signing Steven NZonzi has grown into a solid defensive partnership.
It’s also crucial to remember that Cristante was not just a win-now move by Monchi. At only 23 years old, Roma’s new number 4 still has plenty of room to grow as a player, and that is one of the main reasons why he ends up on our Best Transfer list. I’ll be talking about another midfield transfer (guess who) next, but Monchi’s move to consolidate much of Italy’s midfield talent at the Stadio Olimpico should certainly be appreciated. Hopefully Cristante can take his hot form from December and bring it deep into the New Year.
Second Best Signing, Summer 2018: Nicolò Zaniolo
Nicolo Zaniolo sat them down and read them a bedtime story pic.twitter.com/oFEhhAjZS6— AS Roma English (@ASRomaEN) December 28, 2018
When Radja Nainggolan was shipped off to Inter Milan for €24 million and two players, many Romanisti were unconvinced. Replacing the crazy man at the heart of Spalletti’s Roma with a journeyman fullback (who, it must be said, has impressed in Rome as well) and a 19-year-old with no senior experience? What was Monchi thinking?
Well, whatever Monchi was thinking, he probably wasn’t thinking this would happen, at least not in 2018. Zaniolo has quickly become one of the hottest young names in Serie A, and even before that beautiful goal against Sassuolo, the ability young Nicolò has shown in the attacking midfielder role is the type that just makes you look and stare. At times, Zaniolo looks like a Serie A veteran (his height certainly helps with that); there’s a passion in his game, a consistent determination to follow through with every play that honestly reminds me of a young Alessandro Florenzi. All these things, and he’s only nineteen!
Monchi may have brought together the future of the Azzurri midfield this summer, but it wasn’t his best transfer move. That award must go to...
The Best Signing of Summer 2018: Robin Olsen
Robin Olsen’s had quite the 2018, huh. The savior of a quarter-finals run by Sweden into the World Cup; the man picked by Monchi to fill Alisson Becker’s giant-sized-shoes; the man who had to pick up after a lot of defensive errors the moment he got to the Stadio Olimpico.
So, how’s he done? Pretty damn great. Brought in for only €8.5 million from FC Copenhagen, Olsen’s had six clean sheets across all competitions, allowing only 29 goals total. Considering how leaky Roma’s defense has been, that’s quite good. Olsen’s held down the fort when necessary, and that’s been necessary quite a lot recently. Hopefully a centerback signing this winter will make his job a little easier, but even without that, I have faith in Olsen between the sticks.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again; Robin Olsen is what Romanisti wanted in a starting goalkeeper before they knew Alisson could exist. An experienced international who can block shots like nobody’s business, and has a good handle on managing the defense. What more could you want? Better still, Olsen is older than Alisson but still only 28; Roma will be able to take advantage of the peak of his career.
Roma won’t fail because of goalkeeping this year. For someone who’s still dealing with Mauro Goicoechea nightmares, that’s quite a wonderful feeling.