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Reviewing Roma's Loaned Players, Part I: European Edition

Around 20 million euros worth of talent on Roma’s books plays outside of Italy this season. How did they do?

Ajax v AEK Athens - UEFA Champions League Group E Photo by Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images

The end of season is already up for most leagues outside of Italy, so our end-of-season loan report kicks off with all Roma loanees playing abroad. We’ll have the domestic-based loanees in around a week’s time, once regular-season games end in Italy.

Let’s kick things off with an old face down in South America.

Bruno Peres - Sao Paulo - 2 Games

Sao Paulo v Talleres - Copa CONMEBOL Libertadores 2019 Photo by Alexandre Schneider/Getty Images

The most you can say about Bruno Peres is he gets to link up with Pato at Sao Paulo, now that the former Milan striker has returned home to Brazil. But the most Peres gets to do is link up with him in training.

The now 29-year-old right back made only two Copa Libertadores appearances in February, but April’s league kick-off has happened and Peres hasn’t been seen in the team at all. Only 1 solitary call-up to the bench over 5 league games has reminded everyone that Bruno Peres still has a football career.

Peres’ Roma contract expires in 2021, and expect it to wind down to Roma taking a complete loss on the 15 million euro transfer fee Walter Sabatini shelled out for the Brazilian a couple of seasons ago.

Maybe the redeeming aspect of that transfer was its ultimate winner: Gianluca Petrachi. He is the man widely rumoured to be Roma’s next sporting director in waiting.

Moustapha Seck - Almere City - 31 Games, 4 Assists

We covered Seck’s stay in the Dutch second division extensively in January. Almere City’s Italian coach Michele Santoni rated Seck highly, calling him one of the best left-backs in the league and a ‘difference maker’. It looks like Santoni’s belief in Seck was for real.

The left-back was given time to recover from a lengthy injury spell in the winter, coming back as undisputed starter for Almere City until season’s end. The Dutch outfit failed in their end-of-season playoff loss to Cambuur, so it is unclear whether Seck will sign on for next season or be left without a club entirely.

After all, Seck’s contract with Roma expires this summer.

Maxime Gonalons - Sevilla - 13 Games, 1 Goal

RCD Espanyol v Sevilla FC - La Liga Photo by Alex Caparros/Getty Images

There’s no diplomatic way to put it: Gonalons’ stay in Sevilla was a nightmare, despite him saying he was enjoying life in Spain and hoped to stay permanently. Gonalons must have been talking about the gym and treatment table.

We covered Gonalons’ back-to-back leg break injuries in January, and the Frenchman finally regained full fitness in mid-March to make 4 straight league starts. Then he suffered a muscle tear keeping him out for a whole month, while his end-of-season comeback was ruined by tearing the same muscle over again.

There’s a quality player in there somwhere and Sevilla undoubtedly had Gonalons pencilled in as a starter for this season, but the Frenchman is now - since March - the wrong side of 30 to be picking up these injuries. Unless Monchi feels like doing Roma a favour, a permanent stay in Seville looks like wishful thinking for Maxime.

Roma need anywhere above a 2.5 million euro transfer fee to make a plusvalenza on Gonalons this summer, otherwise he’ll return to Trigoria with 2 years left on his contract.

Edoardo Soleri - Braga - 3 Games

Just last week, I was hunting for footage of Nicolò Zaniolo in his Entella playing days. Yet who turned up, on the end of a Marco Tumminello cross, to bang in a goal for Roma in that 2017 Primavera Coppia Italia final second leg? None other than Edoardo Soleri.

Those were the days, you know. When Roma Primavera was for Romans. And now all we have left is mercenary Zan Celar banging in 28 league goals (and counting) this Primavera season, while Soleri languishes in Portugal at Braga B.

For whatever reason, Monchi saw fit to take Soleri out of his loan in Holland at Almere City this past January, the Spanish DS sending the Roman youth packing to Portugal instead. The result was a complete bust for Soleri, making no more than 3 appearances and being left out the squad for the remaining 10 league games of the season. He was happier in Holland.

It is unclear when Soleri’s Roma contract expires.

Rezan Corlu - Lyngby BK - 23 Games, 6 Goals, 2 Assists

Half-Dane half-Turkish inverted right winger Corlu’s season is not finished.

If you’re in need of some do-or-die football on Saturday May 25th and can somehow find live Danish First Division (i.e. second division) games live, tune into the last game of Lyngby’s season as they try for promotion back to the Danish big time.

Corlu needs 2nd placed Viborg to beat 3rd placed Fremad Amager on the last matchday, while the 21-year old has to help his own club Lyngby to a win.

Corlu has one year left on his Roma contract.

Daniele Verde - Real Valladolid - 26 Games, 6 Goals

Italy U21 v England U21 - International Friendly Photo by Alessandro Sabattini/Getty Images

Verde’s season reminds me both of Alvaro Recoba, and what a difference six months can make to a career. I used to buy into the Recoba hype to the absolute fullest but, by the time the Uruguayan’s career wound down, he racked up half as many games as he could have played if fully fit, while scoring the occasional wondergoal that made you wonder what could have been.

That is Daniele Verde in Spain so far, in a nutshell. The diminutive wide man failed to register a single assist, while only scoring two league goals and leaving Valladolid barely beating relegation by season’s end. Verde satisfied himself with Copa Del Rey heroics for a brief two rounds of the competition, but he’s failed to become a starter in La Liga.

In January, the press were incredibly upbeat about Ronaldo making Verde’s stay in Spain permanent and taking up his 3-5 million euro redemption clause six months early. Verde even gave this momentum by making a couple of appearances at Italy U-21 level in the winter of 2018. Now a permanent move looks unlikely, and claim Verde’s best options are potential moves to Getafe or Copenhagen for next season, where the 22-year old Italian could take the backdoor route into European club football.

Both clubs will join the queue of wheel-and-dealers looking to get a cut-price deal on Verde from Roma, one year before his Giallorosso contract expires in summer 2020.

Ezequiel Ponce - AEK Athens - 43 Games, 21 Goals, 4 Assists

In our January update, Ponce was going at a respectable 1-every-2-game league goal rate into the Greek winter break. Apparently a mid-season rest was all Ponce needed; the striker exploded with 6 goals and 1 assist in 5 games from January through to the beginning of February. Ponce then got himself suspended for yellow-card accumulation and, truthfully, cooled off in AEK’s remaining 9 league games.

But the Greek club will be hard pressed to find a player with better upside and goal-return than Ponce, while the loan must be considered a success from Ponce’s personal perspective.

The 22-year old finally found a club who believed in him as an unquestionable first-11 player, missing only 3 games (2 of them through suspension) all season long. The only glaring weakness on Ponce’s card is his failure to make a mark on their Champions’ League campaign, and the fact he scored nearly his entire goal tally from inside of 10 yards to goal.

You can never fault a striker for being in the right time and place, but he’ll never be winning some of those headers inside the 6-yard box in Serie A. AEK will be looking to close the gap on 2nd place Olympiacos and undefeated champions PAOK. Will they part with Ponce’s redemption clause - 6 million euros - to build around the young Argentine striker for next season?

And will I ever remember - once and for all - which player was nicknamed ‘The Tank’ between Ezequiel Ponce and Kevin Mendez at Roma? The answer to the latter is likely not, but the answer to the former must be looking more positive for Ponce’s career.