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Kalinic and Mkhitaryan Bring Valuable Veteran Presence to Roma

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Roma has traded Schick in for two golden oldies

Arsenal FC v Tottenham Hotspur - Premier League Photo by Stuart MacFarlane/Arsenal FC via Getty Images

At the last day of the mercato, Roma took an unexpected U-turn. After previously bringing in the likes of Pau Lopez, Amadou Diawara, Jordan Veretout, Davide Zappacosta, Gianlua Mancini, Leonardo Spinazzola and Mert Cetin, thereby decreasing the average age of Roma’s squad, Petrachi drastically changed tactics on September 2.

He let Schick (23) join Leipzig while bringing in Nikola Kalinic and Henrikh Mkhitaryan, both on the wrong side of 30. While Roma’s midfield looks and feels rather young, full of spring chickens, up front the Giallorossi are relying on the golden oldies: Perotti, Dzeko, Miki and Kalinic will share a lot of minutes between them.

While Perotti and Dzeko have been in Rome for quite some time, the additions of Nikola and Henrikh to the team was kinda surprising when you look at the months of July and August, where Petrachi opted for a summer sale of ‘older’ guys like Olsen, Marcano, Gonalons, Defrel and Nzonzi. We even had to say goodbye to our dear Daniele, 36 years of pure Roman blood. Like I said earlier, Petrachi mostly brought in players between the ages 22-26.

The 30+ players who stayed in Rome all had their own transfer perils this summer: Perotti back to Argentina? Dzeko and Kolarov to Inter? Mirante to Real? Pastore to China or Middle East? Year Zero meant we finally had to depart with the old guard. Yet all of those names remained after September 2nd.

On top of that, Petrachi gave us two new ‘veterans’: Kali and Miki. One will be Dzeko’s deputy for most of the season while the other one will battle with young guns Kluivert, Zaniolo, Pellegrini and Ünder for a starting spot. Two fine and smart additions by Gianluca.

Let’s start with Miki, a man bursting with talent, oozing class and boosting an impressive resume: Dortmund, ManU, Arsenal and Shaktar. For years his country’s best player and he’s as flexible as the clown from IT during the refrigerator scene: Miki can play in all 3 spots behind Dzeko in Fonseca’s 4-2-3-1.

While Kluivert and Ünder tend to be inconsistent due to their youthful inexperience and the pressure of playing in a big league, Miki has seen some shit in his 13-year-old career and should have no problem adapting to Serie A quickly. Motivation won’t be a problem as he wants to guide his Armenia to a big tournament for the first time in its history so he’ll want to stay in top shape.

Next up: Nikola Kalinic. Not really the same type as Schick. Nikola’s a true striker while Schick’s best position was... uh, on the bench? Anyway, Kalinic provides more stability then Schick, who was too hot ‘n cold for Fonseca. When Dzeko is injured or fatigued. Kalinic can be a worthy replacement. I said can, because it remains to be seen if Nikola can refind his form from his Fiorentina and Dnipro days. For the Croatian this could be his last chance to relaunch his career. His last two adventures in Milan and Madrid didn’t turn out well but let’s put things in perspective. Milan has been a mess since six years or so, while at Atletico he had Costa, Morata and Griezmann as competitors. Even Dzeko would have a hard time sealing his spot.

In the end, Kalinic still remains a more acclaimed striker than Schick, who only had one good season at Samp. Kalinic had two of those at Fiorentina, was a regular for the Croatia NT until the World Cup 2018, and was part of the Dnipro side that surprisingly reached the Europa League final in 2015.

I don’t see Kalinic scoring 15+ goals in Serie A this season, but it sure has been a long time since Roma had a valuable stand-in for Edin. The past seasons we had Defrel, Ponce, Sadiq. Before the Dzeko era we had Doumbia, Ibarbo, Sanabria as striker options on the bench. I guess it’s been since 2013-2014 (Destro and Borriello) that Roma had two renowned players for that position (mind you I’m not counting Totti as an out-and-out striker).

Perhaps based on pure talent and skills, Schick surpasses Kalinic, but Roma waited long enough with the young Czech. They had enough patience, the Giallorossi needed a vice Dzeko fast, someone who wasn’t pricey and an immediate improvement for the team. Kalinic was an opportunity Petrachi couldn’t resist.

Same for Miki and the comparison with Kluivert-Zaniolo. The two boys may turn out to be bigger studs than Miki, but anno 2019 Roma needs guys like Miki too to survive in both Serie A and Europe.

Short-term, the transfers of Kalinic and Miki were damn good business from Petrachi. Better than gambling on another unproven 21-year-old Primavera player or a mediocre striker from SPAL, Cagliari or Sampdoria.