2020 is meant to be a new dawn for Italian football; the Italian government has funded a three-year window of opportunity for Italian sport and business to poach experienced talent from abroad, in a bid to raise the ceiling on the peninsula back to something like the glory days.
Inside the world of Serie A, we’ve already seen tax-free wages lead to signings that range from the gimmicky (Zlatan Ibrahimovic rejoining Milan) to the genuinely ambitious (Christian Eriksen potentially joining Inter). We knew Roma wouldn’t be at the vanguard of this brave new winter mercato - simply because the Giallorossi are flat broke - but we were still expecting Petrachi to surf in the slipstream of the big moves, keeping an eye out for any opportunities.
Apparently that opportunity is Liverpool’s Xherdan Shaqiri, amid widespread reports that Roma are ready to present a loan-with-option-to-buy offer to take the 13 million pound forward off Jurgen Klopp’s bench. To me, there is something that has never quite added up when it comes to Shaquiri - and that isn’t a pun on his appearance either.
Though he’s no shorter than your average modern wide player, Shaqiri’s stockiness makes the height factor stand out more than usual. But then there are the spectacular goals; the willingness to throw himself into a bicycle kick and often end up smacking the ball right into the back of the net. You’d think a guy who could push himself beyond limits from so young (it seems like Shaqiri has been around forever but he’s still on 28) would have the grit to go on and do truly special things at the top of world football. And yet he hasn’t.
His career is one of a drifter; from failing to make the cut at Bayern to a completely innocuous six-month stay in Serie A years ago at Inter, Shaqiri has conspired to wind up a Champions’ League winning medalist from the Liverpool bench all the same. Ain’t life grand.
Alternatively, Alfredo Pedulla claims that Real Sociedad’s Adnan Janujaz is making his way up the list of Roma transfer targets if Liverpool can’t be convinced to part with Shaqiri.
Either way, Roma are in the hunt for a stop-gap replacement on the right wing after Matteo Politano’s move from Inter fell through. And it may not be the last we hear of that botched deal either.
Roma Build Case Against Inter Milan for Violating Pre-Contract Deal (Twice)
Roma’s management are confirmed—by Il Messagero (via ForzaRoma)—to have met up with their lawyers and consider legal action against Inter Milan for twice backing out on pre-contract agreements to sign Leonardo Spinazzola.
Now let’s be clear before all the vitriol towards Inter starts flooding out: Roma are just as culpable for this mess to begin with, going all the way back to the summer of 2019.
Though I strongly disagree with Bren on the significance of giving up Luca Pellegrini—one of the many fullbacks talents Roma could easily afford to give up at a time when the club needed to come up with money by June 30th—I do now see where Bren is coming from, in that it’s right to question the Spinazzola deal in the light of Petrachi’s now-handling of it.
After all, Roma are only in this situation because they agreed to financially dope both theirs and Juventus’ accounts and jump through FFP loopholes. Otherwise, there isn’t a parallel universe that exists where Leonardo Spinazzola—based purely on the career he’s had to date alone—is worth 30 million euros. And that’s the real source of both Roma and Inter’s frustrations; these are two clubs living beyond their means, cutting corners just to keep up appearances. So Roma have no moral high ground here.
However, defending your business is another matter entirely. And it’d be foolish to go along with Inter using Spinazzola’s injury record as an excuse to back out of a deal.
The jig was definitely up on the “worried about fitness” excuses when Antonio Conte himself, in Inter’s pre-match conference before Lecce, said both players were aware the player-exchange was happening based on his coaching decision and that “he’d stuck to that choice” with both players agreed to the move.
In typically barbed fashion towards his own board, Conte added: “As for [why the move didn’t happen], you’d have to ask others that.”
The general feeling among the Roma press is that Inter’s general manager Pietro Ausilio was happy to do business with Gianluca Petrachi over Spinazzola, while Inter’s “CEO of Sport” Beppe Marotta preferred to bring in Ashley Young instead. Once Manchester United surprised everyone by letting Young go six months earlier than intially agreed, Marotta did everything he could to sink Ausilio’s deal with Roma.
Inter Milan reportedly struck a pre-contract agreement with Roma twice in two days to bring Spinazzola up North (who, incidentally, has never failed a medical at any club) and both times - presumably in an effort to prove a title like “CEO of Sport” actually means something - Marotta interrupted the deal with increasingly asinine requests. Spinazzola ended up as collateral damage of a power struggle within Inter’s management ranks, and now Roma are pissed that the headlines around their player might make Spinazzola permanently unsellable.
All the more reason for Paulo Fonseca declaring that Spinazzola will play against Genoa then.
There is no precedent for a club behaving like Inter have just done during pre-contract agreements. You might say ‘well nothing was signed...’ but the bigger picture at play here is Inter Milan setting a new standard for bait-and-switching the transfer market. At that point, it’s not just correct but sane for Roma to clarify what the new rules are for everyone.
For example: The next time we agree to sign a Javier Pastore, could we then turn around and send him on his merry way when Christian Eriksen is suddently up for grabs the next day? Asking for a friend, of course.
Ibañez Medical Scheduled for Monday
In a last piece of transfer news, the Roger Ibañez - apparently known mononymously as ‘Ibañez’ - move to Roma is still happening, with his medical moved to this coming Monday.
The numbers get even more favourable for Roma, with Sky Sport Italia reporting that Roma pay only 1 million upfront and defer the rest in staggered payments and bonuses. It’s also said that Ibanez has agreed to a 700,000 euro-per year deal, after being personally phoned by Paulo Fonseca to come join the ranks in Rome.
That’s the same pay-packet as Alessio Riccardi in the Roma Primavera squad. So if Ibanez can contribute anything to this season that would really be value for money.
It was thought that Petrachi would use this weekend to try and agree a sale of Juan Jesus to Fiorentina, but Paulo Fonseca has today explicitly denied that Juan Jesus on the market.