Roma and full-backs are like oil and water, they just don't mix. Sure, there are a few concoctions or additives you can add to the mixture to make it at least look cool, like one of those waves in a bottle type things, but in the end all you're left with is two disparate blobs unable to properly mix. For the better part of a decade (if not more), Roma have struggled to find a solid and consistent full-back pairing, with the right side of that equation proving exceedingly difficult to solve.
Once Christian Panucci (who wasn't even really a right-back) hung ‘em up, Roma have struggled mightily to find a consistent and quality right back. Alessandro Florenzi is serviceable in the attacking components, but has suffered through bouts of injury and inconsistency since being forced into the position several years ago. And while I'll always maintain he's a top five guy at his position, Roma have consistently looked for an upgrade.
But all those worries went out the window on August 16, 2016 when Roma paid €12.5 million for Torino right-back Bruno Peres; you know, the guy who did this against Juventus. It's hard to remember now, but that Bruno Peres had the makings of a world beater. With size, pace and technical ability for days, Peres’ six goals and seven assists in two seasons with Torino was supposed to be just the tip of the iceberg. So when Roma pipped PSG for his signature, it was seen as a tremendous coup and potential paradigm shifting signing for the Giallorossi.
It turns out that paradigm shift was merely an exercise in frustration. Instead of lifting Roma's attack to the next level, Peres was simply the latest in a long line of small club players that struggled to make the jump to Roma. There were some tactical causes for his struggles—leaving a 3-5-2 where he had acres of space to Spalletti's 4-2-3-1 didn't suit his marauding style—but ultimately Peres wasn't up to snuff, as his entire Roma career amounted to two goals and three assists in all competitions (though to be fair, his first season was solid despite the lack of counting statistics).
Sensing this sunk cost, Roma sent Peres back to his native Brazil with Sao Paulo in 2018, for whom he made 26 appearances across parts of two seasons. Peres failed to impress and actually spent the past season in Brazil's Serie B with Sport Recife, making only one appearance. Suffice it to say, it's been a rough stretch for Bruno Peres.
With 18 months remaining on his Roma contract, Peres returned to Roma today, joining his new teammates in training ahead of their fixture against Torino—how's that for irony?
After failing to even make a mark in the Brazilian minor leagues, it's safe to say that Peres has reached his nadir, meaning he can only go up from here. At 29-years-old, Peres should have a few years left in him, but does he actually have a chance to resurrect his career?
Certainly Roma have been connected to full-backs virtually every week this winter, so the need is apparently there. If nothing else, Peres can do what he's always done well: get out there and run, immersing himself in Roma's up tempo passing game. Sharing a common tongue with Fonseca should help ease his transition back to life in Italy, but tactically I'm not sure the story will be any different; he failed to find a niche in Spalletti's 4-2-3-1 and might struggle just the same under Fonseca, despite the common language.
Peres was definitely a must-see player at his Torino peak, so I hope for everyone's sake they can figure something out here, but, barring a miracle, this will likely go one of two ways: Roma finds another loan for him within the next few weeks or he rots on the bench through the spring.
I'm not sure there is any gray area here, so let's hope they can find him a place to play.
Update: Dang, if only I waited an hour. Gianluca Petrachi spoke on Peres’ return moments ago:
I want to say a word about him. He’s a player I know well as I signed him for Torino. He knows how to play football; he just has to rediscover his hunger and humility that he perhaps lost a bit of recently. Paulo and I have decided to give him another chance because everyone deserves a second chance. He needs to find himself again. We all make mistakes. I saw the real Bruno Peres at Torino and I know how he did it. He knows it too. We’re going to give him a chance and if he messes up he’ll be out.