I suppose it's somewhat fitting that I'm writing this particular piece during the Christmas season, a time notorious for last-minute shopping when the procrastinators among us scurry to find last minute gifts for friends and loved ones. The footballing world may hit pause during the winter holidays, but their real shopping season is during the summer, a three-month panoply of rumors, hearsay and (eventually) multi-million dollar moves.
Over the years, we've seen Roma take a variety of approaches to their summer shopping. From Monchi's “hey, let’s just fill up the cart on the first day” approach to Walter Sabatini's infamous night moves, the Giallorossi have worked both ends of the spectrum during the summer transfer season.
While both approaches have produced their fair share of hits and misses, Roma landed perhaps one of their most successful transfers ever on deadline day in 2011. Purchased on August 31st that year for the tidy sum of €11 million, Miralem Pjanic's move from Lyon was the capper on the Luis Enrique summer; a patient and creative midfielder for Roma's bold new experiment.
It may have been the correct move in the moment, but the Enrique experiment ultimately failed. It did, however, leave us with one shiny gem: a smart, intuitive and creative midfielder, one who, as it turned out, was so much more than a Tiki-taka specialist.
During his first season with Roma, at all of 21-years-old, Pjanic asserted himself in Roma's new tactical set-up, scoring three goals and notching a club-high eight assists, which was tied for fourth league wide.
It was a preview of things to come. Whether it was Enrique, Zdenek Zeman, Aurelio Andreazzoli, Rudi Garcia or Luciano Spalletti at the helm, Pjanic was front in center in Roma's plans, providing the Giallorossi with a creative spark in the midfield and a killer instinct from set-pieces for five seasons.
In five seasons with the club, Pjanic made 185 appearances (all comps), scoring 30 goals (including 12 from set-pieces) and contributing 43 assists. Pjanic has experienced greater team success with Juventus, but Roma definitely got the best statistical stretch of Pjanic's career thus far.
Notable Achievements: Domestic Double-Double in 2015-2016
As it turned out, Pjanic's final season in Rome was his best. In 33 league appearances that season, Pjanic scored 10 goals and chipped in 12 assists, setting new career marks in both areas. The goal scoring haul was particularly impressive as he pumped in five of those goals from set-pieces, a mark he has yet to surpass.
Pjanic was one of only two players to crack the double-double in Italy that year, joining Lorenzo Insigne among that elite set, as both men accounted for 22 goals (goals + assists). This season was an exposition in everything we'd hope Pjanic would become on that final day in August of 2011. Despite not having upper level athleticism, Pjanic used his understanding of the game, his deft touch, and superior positioning to post one of the better individual seasons the club has ever seen.
Where is He Now?
Well, I suppose we can credit Pjanic and Juventus for striking while the iron is hot. Fresh off that double-double, Juve swooped in and grabbed Pjanic for a cool €32 million, ending his five-year run in Rome. Pjanic has been with the Old Lady ever since, scoring 15 goals and contributing 22 assists in league play thus far.
There were some dark moments in Roma's midfield after he left, but the rise of Lorenzo Pellegrini over the past 18 months or so has taken some of that sting out. It hurts that he went to Juventus, but Pjanic's time with Roma was magnificent.
Coming up next, Roma's second midfielder of the decade.