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Pouring Cold Water Over Roma’s Summer Transfer Market - Part 1

Roma are still fundamentally a selling club - set expectations to low.

Spal v AS Roma - Serie A Photo by Mario Carlini / Iguana Press/Getty Images

I’ve read combined expectations that the Lupi will hold onto all key/core players and yet also find the money to bring in proven winners - not just on CdT but from sites like ForzaRoma. It’s similar to the retrospective expertise going on all season about what a mistake Roma made in selling Salah and, yet, when a fanpost was made on CdT asking for a realistic picture of the club keeping Salah last summer, the article drew in the sound of crickets.

With that in mind, I’m doing my best to pour cold water over transfer market expectations and try to save a lot of what Mauro Baldissoni called “a cycle of disappointments, anger and frustration” ahead of time.

Aiming for a title challenge and another good Champions League campaign is something I’m on board with, but those targets are far more likely to be based on fixing the cheaper, pre-existing gains to be had in tweaking the team play, than the more expensive (and improbable) idea of competing for signing top talent or proven winners.

All of our Champions League money articles were pretty clear to say that the 100m euro campaign with this team would not guarantee a sale-free summer, it merely bought time to think about selling better.

And any CL success would make it all the more hard to say goodbye to players who’ve been a part of good memories.

But We Can Just Sell: Skorupski, Peres, Jesus, Gerson, Gonalons, Defrel...

Cool, the club can do that and likely will ease some of those names out the door. But it will it be enough to fund a summer transfer campaign?

Situations like Peres’ mean clubs like Inter have us by the balls. Bruno Peres makes twice as much as any Genoa, Fiorentina or Cagliari player - his Roma contract pricing him out of reach of all but three clubs (besides Roma) in Italy, and only one of those three clubs expressing a vague interest in him because they need to save money elsewhere. Short of Peres taking a paycut, foreign league interest or Roma offering to pay some of his wages after he’s moved, we’re basically at the mercy of an Inter offer where they’ll pay 1 million up front and a stick of gum + 8 million over the next year.

For Peres’ situation, you can say exactly the same (if not worse) for moving on the higher paid Juan Jesus. Neither of these guys are senior Brazil internationals and yet they are paid like one. We may be hoping some club comes along to say “what the hey, you’ll do” and offer these players the final payrise of their career to take them off our hands... until we realise that club was us.

Welcome to Sabatini-city. The city limits from which we’re still wondering whether it was wise to even walk into, today.

Meanwhile, Gonalons won’t go back to any French club for any higher than the 5 million fee we signed him for, if he goes. Skorupski may fetch up to 7 million, and who knows what club will be interested in Gerson or Defrel, the latter recovering from ankle and knee surgery. Overall, we’ve just about managed to cover Ante Coric’s transfer fee here.

Is it a better bet for Roma to generate decent money through youth sales and familiar names still on the books?

Daniele Verde will finish his loan at Verona and was rumoured to be on several clubs radar in January, despite his low goalscoring form for the relegated side. Ponce’s situation is near identical, at a Lille side just barely escaping relegation from Ligue 1. Sadiq has fared better in the Eredivisie, making player of the week four times for NAC Breda with 7 league goals since January, and ready to lead the frontline for Nigeria at the World Cup. Gyomber is deemed a quality player in Serie B by Bari’s fans, while Castan finishes up his loan at Cagliari with a last-day relegation battle.

Other young names like Seck, Nura and Tumminello still have yet to resolve their futures with the club.

Long story short: Roma will have to fund any incoming signings by selling first, and selling big. Until the new stadium revenues become a reality, Roma is still fundamentally a selling club.

But it’s not all negative. Assuming we get good money for Strootman, Florenzi or Nainggolan-calibre sales, there are plenty of (realistic) positives compared to last summer.

We Have a System-Based Coach

“I’m not someone who discusses names with the sporting director or even likes to get involved in discussing personal contract details with players,” Eusebio Di Francesco said this past Sunday to Premium Sport. “I simply go to Monchi with details of each role in the team, and we discuss what roles can be improved.”

Though, to be honest, Di Francesco is starting to make me question that he truly is a system-based coach, despite making it clear he views individual playing talent as an afterthought.

EDF has shown the kind of versatility that must have Monchi thanking his lucky stars he signed a coach who was flexible enough to make the Schick transfer look reasonable by season’s end.

Di Francesco has blown away all suspicions that he is nothing more than an integralista - a coach slaved to his own tactics at the expense of mercilessly shoving square pegs in round holes - but still fundamentally believes in the team shape and ethos winning over individual talent, making him a far less demanding man when it comes to transfer fees than some predecessors.

“We have to move on from this idea of placing three of four players on a podium to be admired,” EDF continued this past weekend. There’s been a clear shift in thinking from the technical staff, all season-long, to move on from the Spalletti days where Nainggolan, Dzeko and Salah took all the plaudits on the counter-attack while everyone else sat back in the shadows. “We instead make every player in the squad feel involved and important. That’s what we’ve done.”

We Have Time To Focus On Incoming Transfers Already

The 100m euro CL campaign gave Monchi one thing: the freedom to not have to dedicate all of his resources to keeping the phone lines open one-way, trying to warm up the best taker for Salah, Manolas, Paredes, Rudiger etc. until June 30th came ringing.

Instead, Monchi can plan incoming signings already. He can time them with the outgoings so that Roma gets the best deal on both, without other clubs having time to react to the profit made by Roma in the process. If Monchi is able to use this freedom to have the squad together and ready for EdF by... being optimistic as hell here... the beginning of the US tour, that would be a major difference to the pre-seasons gone by of yesteryear. Compare that to Napoli training their entire squad, last pre-season, in the mountains of Italy to prepare for Sarri’s new defensive, practical demands and only one common goal in mind - and you can imagine Roma already closing the gap in team chemistry here, with a well-planned summer.

So, while we’ve poured cold water on the idea Roma can escape this summer by keeping ties with all the main actors of this season, in part 2 we’ll look at the positions in the team that can be rebuilt on affordable terms.

And no doubt, the real value of any player on the market is exactly what a club is willing to pay for them at the time. So Monchi may pull a rabbit out of a hat, he may sell Bruno Peres to a Premier League club for 30 million. He may sell Gerson for 50 million and 5 Ballon D’Or clauses - you never know. He may even still have blackmail material on the guy he sold Juan Iturbe for actual money to, down in Mexico, to pull in another favour.

We don’t claim to be insiders and, at any point in the summer, this toned-down view of our transfer season could get torn up in flames by real-life events.