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Are Loans a Thing of the Past In Football?

Sabatini’s kids... where are they now?

SSC Napoli v AS Roma - Serie A Photo by Maurizio Lagana/Getty Images

While we look at Monchi’s first year at Roma, we revisit some of the days of future past and what’s become of Sabatini’s kids let go by the club. In his first summer in charge, Monchi had no less than 48 players under contract before the 2017-18 season had kicked off, with a task to find a new home for some.

It’s something UEFA takes a dim view on recently, with European football chief Ceferin slamming “one Italian club” for having “103 under contract” in a recent interview to a Swiss journal. Though Ceferin didn’t name the club in question, it’s widely believed to be either Udinese or Juventus. Both black-and-white striped clubs lead Italian football in the number of active loans on the books (Juventus with 41 players out on loan, Udinese with 27).

The decision to give Italian football clubs B-squads might be seen as progressive in one light, but the reality was probably closer to now-or-never for the FIGC. They had to protect the Italian game from further instability in the light of what many suspect will be UEFA banning loans from the game for good.

So Monchi’s remit was to cover the tracks of Roma’s books last summer, letting a lot of players go in the process. This is the first part covering what has become of Roma’s kids.

Tiago Casasola (born ‘95) Roma Past, Lazio’s Future?

Is he the next Sebastiano Siviglia story? Casasola is a South American centre-half snatched up for free by Walter Sabatini in 2015 from the mean streets of... Fulham. A series of loans later and he was given away to Alessandria in 2017 by Monchi, only to find his way to Claudio Lotito-controlled Salernitana this past January. Now Casasola is being hailed as a revelation at one of the several Serie B Lazio feeder-clubs and is widely tipped to make his return to the capital, this time in a Lazio shirt, soon enough.

Giammario Piscitella (born ‘93) - End of Line

A guy who’s now much too old to be on Roma’s books. The 25 year old striker’s Roma contract expires this summer and he hasn’t made waves.

Arturo Calabresi (born ‘96) – Bologna’s New Full-back

Still on the books at Roma and still only 22, Calabresi was threatening to figure in Roma’s senior team in the summer of 2015 when he came on as a sub for the departing Ashley Cole. His initial departure on loan to Spezia last summer was, on the other hand, another case of deadbeat loan deals from hell.

“What went wrong at Spezia? I don’t like to talking about the past,” Calabresi offered little to Spezia’s paper Citta della Spezia by January 2018. “Beyond the technical aspect, it was a very negative experience on a human level that I wouldn’t wish on anyone.”

Calabresi was promptly whisked out of Spezia along with Roma club-mate Edoardo Soleri, this past winter, with both players sent on loans elsewhere. Calabresi is rumoured to have just been sold to Bologna this summer, after finishing a successful six-month spell at Foggia. Some suspect the delay in announcing his Bologna move is because Calabresi could yet figure as a makeweight in Simone Verdi moving the other way to Roma.

Elio Capradossi (born ‘96) – Serie A Future?

From the same class as Calabresi, he could also finally break into Serie A for next season whether in a Roma shirt or not. We’ve previously covered Capradossi in detail here.

Nicola Falasco (born ‘93) – Serie B’s Benatia

Falasco impressed someone enough to inspire a 360p highlights vid two summers ago. Whether he’ll do enough in the future to eventually bring his footballing career into HD is another question. The ball-playing jack-of-all-trades defender just spent a year on loan at Avellino, doing enough to convince the Serie B side to take him on permanently and pocket Roma a 100,000 euro transfer fee this window.

Massimo Sammartino (‘born 95) - A Long Way From Zeman

Sammartino’s biggest claim to the big-time was being called up to Roma’s senior squad for a Coppa Italia match in Zeman’s second spell at the club. Last summer marked Sammartino’s ten-year anniversary as a Roma youth product until he was released by Monchi. “I keep that Roma shirt from the Coppa Italia match with me today,” Sammartino told Italian portal in a recent interview.

“The rules of under and over-age players punish lads who are 22 to 23 years old,” Sammartino continued. “We’re still young but considered old. Take my case for example. Besides one small spell at a Serie A club, in the lower club’s eyes I still don’t have the right senior experience. They’d prefer to take on younger players of greater financial value or 27, 28 year old professionals with experience.”

Sammartino was vocal about B-squads being a good compromise for this grey area and spent the last year being given the run-around by various clubs. “I’d like to play in America if I can’t stay in Italy,” said the Italian full-back who chose to blame trusting the wrong agents for his senior career failing to launch.

This past January he chose to move abroad as promised, though he now plays in Malta rather than the MLS move he dreamed of making. It’s not the most renowed place for football, but I can think of worse places to live and figure out what I’d do with the rest of my twenties.