When managers shift jobs it’s not unusual for them to bring a few familiar faces with them. We saw it with Rudi Garcia and Gervinho several years ago and then this past summer with Eusebio Di Francesco and Lorenzo Pellegrini and Gregoire Defrel. Whatever the case may be, bringing in someone familiar with your tactics, motivational techniques and your personality is a good way to establish and maintain a bit of corporate knowledge, ensuring a smooth transition in the process.
While EDF doesn’t have designs on anymore of his former Sassuolo charges, Roma’s most recent ex-manager, Luciano Spalletti, apparently is keen on bringing Kevin Strootman to Inter Milan. Tuttomercatoweb, the source of this rumor, admits that while there isn’t a deal in place yet, or anything remotely resembling one, Spaletti’s desire to reunite with the Dutch Jesuus remains quite strong.
There are several problems with this rumor, chief among them the fact that Strootman just signed a new five year deal with Roma last year, and has professed his gratitude to the club for sticking by him through his lengthy rehab process from multiple knee injuries. Strootman’s bond with his teammates and his appreciation for all that makes Roma special are beyond reproach, but is that enough to keep him on the payroll?
Had this rumor popped up two years ago, then sure, we might give it more consideration. Afterall, if someone wanted to pay a large sum of money for a player as injured as Strootman, Roma would have to consider it, right? They always need cash and Strootman’s future was in serious doubt, so it would have been easy to justify.
However, things have changed dramatically over the past two years. Since returning to action for good in February 2016, Strootman has been a mainstay for Roma, logging nearly 70 league appearances since then. The time for questioning Strootman’s health has long since passed. With that many miles on his legs, it’s safe to say his knee is as strong as it ever was, and while the toll of so many surgeries may remove some time off the end of his career, in the here and now, Strootman appears as healthy as a horse.
While that’s all well and good, we can question whether or not he’s the same player, or at least one worthy of being the third highest paid player on the squad. In 34 appearances in all competitions this season, Strootman has managed only one goal and no assists (though he was good for four goals and seven assists last year), and has never seemed quite as secure in EDF’s midfield as he did for Spalletti or Garcia, and with Lorenzo Pellegrini hot on his heels, not to mention the constant rumors of Lucas Torreira or Milan Badelj, Roma may already be moving on in spirit from one of their most tenured members.
Parting with Kevin Strootman is no cut and dry affair, though, as we have to weigh emotion with unadulterated and dispassionate objectivity. In considering this speculative move we have to ask several important questions: Is the dip in his performance merely a matter of fatigue, or is he not suited for EDF’s midfield at all? Will he, at 28-years-old, get any better than his current form?
Muddying the waters even further are matters not so easily described. Given the dual allegiance between he and the club, his standing in the locker room, his willingness to defend the crest, the fans and his teammates at all costs, selling Strootman would be no trifling matter—Strootman is in that Totti/De Rossi/Nainggolan class in terms of his importance to the fanbase.
So, what wins out, reason or romance? Should Roma listen if Inter Milan actually comes calling?
Should Roma sell Kevin Strootman this summer?
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