Imagine you're about eight years old and your family has a trip to Disneyland planned. Night after night you dream about meeting Mickey, taking your first plane ride, and going on Space Mountain. You brag to all your friends at school, hell, you even get to miss a week of classes! And then the big day comes, you land in Anaheim, you get to your hotel but your mom makes everyone rest before hitting the park. Only, instead of getting a peaceful night's sleep, you're up all night coughing and wheezing. You've got strep. Your dream vacation is literally just outside your window, but you've been denied through no fault of your own.
This never happened to me, but welcome to a version of Matteo Politano's current nightmare. Politano led his hometown club to glory at the youth level, sharing in the riches with current Roma captain Alessandro Florenzi, but never got to experience life at the Olimpico as a senior player. After plying his trade with Perugia, Pescara, Sassuolo and Inter, Politano's dream of returning to Roma finally seemed like it was coming true. It was a rather circuitous route, but, as they say, all roads lead to Rome.
But something about this dream seemed too good to be true. Roma moved quickly to find a replacement for Nicolo Zaniolo in the form of Matteo Politano, a solid player the fans in Rome would adore. And not only did Roma and Inter agree to value Politano and his swap partner Leonardo Spinazzola at the same rate, but Roma would shave some one million off their wage bill by foisting Spinazzola's €3 million salary on Inter.
It seemed too good to be true because, well, it was. Whether Antonio Conte and Inter had legitimate concerns about Spinazzola's health or they were just using that as a convenient excuse to alter a deal they were already regretting, we'll never know, but by requesting further (and in some way, unprecedented) medical tests on Spinazzola, test which Roma roundly rejected, Inter had a perfect exit plan.
It appears as though Roma’s efforts to save the deal, agreeing to a loan with an option to buy swap, were slapped back by Inter who reportedly wanted a stipulation that each appearance needed to be at least 45 minutes. According to multiple reports, Roma's efforts did not land, as both player's agents confirmed the swap deal is dead.
The real victims in this are the players. The beaming smile on Politano's face as he donned a Roma shirt for the first time in seven years will forever serve as a painful reminder of his dream denied, while Spinazzola temporarily was forced to his third team in less than a year, presumably spending the past three days in a Milan hotel waiting for confirmation, only to be told he's heading back to Roma, to a club that went to great ends to get rid of him.
While we'll credit Gianluca Petrachi for bending over backwards to get this deal done—a deal they apparently needed more than Inter—I can't help but admire Conte's due diligence here. Everyone on the peninsula knows Spinazzola isn't a reliable player, so good on them for not doing a deal just for the sake of it; there's a lesson in there for Roma.
There are still two weeks remaining in the transfer window, so who knows, perhaps they rekindle this somehow—maybe Roma take Politano on loan in and of himself—but the death of this deal has sent both clubs back to the drawing board for now.