Alessandro Florenzi is about to put dry-loans-out-of-Rome on the map again, along with Mirko Antonucci moving on loan to Portugal, but the guys below were into the loanee life way before it became hip.
We keep up with the underground works of indie artists such as Ante Coric, Steven Nzonzi and the goalscorer formerly known as Patrik Schick in our mid-season loan report.
New environments can always bring out new sides of you and, as far as Italy goes, Olsen has discovered he’s less Robin, and more Red Hood. Stop us if you’ve ever pictured this description of Olsen before:
“Olsen should have been more lucid. It’s always frustrating when you’re team loses a two-goal lead but you should never behave like he has there. It doesn’t matter how angry you are, there’s no explanation. He’s not normally a bad guy, but in Italy he’s shown an antagonistic side. He got fed up and started screaming at his own defenders. He’s acting very differently to how he used to be.”
Those were the words of Swedish commentator Daniel Nannskog live on Sweden’s SVT Sports, after Olsen kicked a ball out of play, shoved Lecce’s striker Lapadula to the ground then weirdly went down clutching his own face too; as if that would stop the referee from sending off Olsen.
It didn’t. He got himself suspended for the entire month of December, then went on to concede six goals in just two games this month, as Cagliari fall back down the table.
It’s hardly surprising, then, that Cagliari have demoted ‘Red Hood’ Olsen to the bench for Italian keeper Alessio Cragno, himself returned from major injury. Cagliari aren’t hanging about wondering—like Roma midway through the 2018-19 season—where Robin left and Red Hood took over the keeper’s being.
Instead, Olsen is reportedly on the edge of moving to Parma this January, after the Gialloblu lost first-choice keeper Sepe to long-term injury.
Rick Karsdorp: Feyernoord
Ah, Slick Rick. If only we could forget the sight of a 6-foot defender awkwardly ducking headers anytime an aerial duel came his way, we’d be tempted to say he’d fit in well to Fonseca’s football. Unfortunately, that isn’t the only area where Rick struggles to get his head in the game.
Among the many sumptuous vertical passes he’s pulled off back in Holland, blazing speed, an open play goal, and a penalty finish, Karsdorp has had to shrug off an in-stadium confrontation with his own fans after a loss to Rangers in Europe.
Death threats to his family followed over social media, and he’s also since had to deny using recreational drugs after a dubious video emerged of him in the backseat of a cab with pupils fully dilated. Life’s never dull with Rick, except when he’s on the injury table. Which he was... again.
A groin injury kept him out for most of December, and he’s only just working his way back to first team fitness at the end of January. He’s about to turn 25 next month, so time is ticking on Rick to find a head on his shoulders as educated as his right foot when caressing the ball.
Steven Nzonzi: Galatasaray to Rennes?
You’d have to live on the Moon not to have heard about the multiple reports of Steven Nzonzi’s falling out with coach Fatih Terim at Galatasaray. Whether some of the most salacious rumours of him telling the coach “to put on training sessions worthy of a World-Cup winner” are true or not, Nzonzi is giving Nicolas Anelka a run for his media reputation as France’s all-time Le Sulk.
Only Terim is giving away any glimpse as to what really happened, summing up their bust-up in the Daily Mail with: “Nobody has the right to do what he did.”
Nzonzi managed just 15 appearances in all competitions with the Turkish giants, before it all went sour. Italian media sources report that the Frenchman has already landed in Rennes for a January move.
As always with World Cup-winning Steven, he sort of lets you know where he’s decided to fly to first, then you oblige him accordingly from there. Roma are trying to push the Ligue 1 side for a permanent deal instead of another dry loan, and a permanent transfer certainly would look a lot prettier on Roma’s FFP accounts if it came to pass.
Ante Coric: Almeria
Coric is always on the brink of getting messed about by Almeria. The ‘future Modric’ has tasted highs like coming on a sub in a derby win over Malaga (where even Monchi was present in person to scout him), to coming on for a 94th-minute assist in a mid-December game that saved Almeria a point on the day. Overall he’s made six starts and six sub appearances to date.
But the story behind Coric’s stay in Spain is that his potential six million euro move depends on both appearances and Almeria getting promoted to La Liga from Spain’s second division this season. With Almeria in second place—three points off the top of the league—head coach Guti (the very same Guti) has to decide whether Coric is part of his best promotion push or not. At the beginning of December, local press wrote that “Roma will be hoping and wanting Coric to play more” after Guti started rotating him in and out of the squad.
Six million represents a large amount of money for the club, so they may just keep benching him despite the assists. At any rate, he’s picked up a knee spain in early January that has kept him out of action in 2020.
Sadiq Umar: Partizan Belgrade
At the sixth loan of asking, has Sadiq finally found his groove?
The striker is banging the goals in the Serbian league at over one goal every two games, with 11 league goals and ten assists in 18 appearances and only sitting out two games so far in Partizan’s title campaign. He’s struck up a nice relationship with Partizan coach Savo Milosevic (Parma and Aston Villa fans will remember the name) that has given Sadiq back his confidence.
“Give me a chance like Garcia did at Roma and I’ll show you what I can do,” Sadiq told Gazzetta dello Sport (via RomaNews) this winter. “Walter Sabatini and Ricky Massara thought the world of me and, when I’d make a mistake on a personal level, Sabatini would get angry with me which helped build my character. I went to go see Rudi Garcia when he was at Marseille.”
“Milosevic here never talks much, but I owe him a lot. He gives me advice and helps me on the daily, and never makes me feel alone. I only know Serbian works like ‘pass’, ‘man on’ and ‘free’. Everything else I say in English.”
Sadiq hasn’t stopped there, racking up five goals and two assists on the continent as Partizan just missed out on qualification to the Europa League knockout stages by a single point. Perhaps tellingly though, Sadiq drew blanks in both group games against Manchester United - arguably the only true top-tier opponents he’s played against in 19/20.
With such a prolific return on the domestic scene, you’d think Partizan were top of the league... but not so. They’re still mired in second place, and perhaps that is the motivation behind Sadiq playing it cool over Napoli’s reported 12-million euro interest in signing the Nigerian for next season’s Serie A campaign.
“Napoli’s interest is good for me as it shows I’m doing something right,” Saqid told Sports Extra (via Punch) this week. “But for now I am focusing on Partizan.”
If Sadiq is to win the title, he’ll be in good company as former Roma and Nigerian teammate Abdullahi Nuri stays with Sadiq in a Serbian hotel today. “He’s in Serbia to keep me company,” Sadiq told the Gazzetta. “While we’re all talking, [Nura] is sleeping! But he was the true talent among us both [at Roma].”
It seems a no-brainer that Partizan will take up their 1.7 million euro option with Roma on Sadiq before the end of this season.
Zan Celar: Cittadella/Cremonese
Celar is proving to be the umpteenth reminder (for the dreamer in me) that no matter how lethal you look among the U-21s (47 goals in 63 games for Roma Primavera) it’s irrelevant when making the jump up to playing against grown men.
Zan Celar’s half-year stay in Cittadella is already over, and the goal count reads three goals in 13 games (all competitions) including a brace in a January friendly against...Verona Primavera. Yep. Just the single solitary senior goal on his full debut in Serie B was what Celar managed to carve on his notch. The rest of his performances ranged from “adding physicality to the frontline” to “lacking any danger in front of goal”. I’ve read all ten match ratings of Celar’s league appearances, and it’s the picture of a forward who tries to run off the last man (very different to his holding play back in Rome) while spurning goal-chances that fall his way.
Unfortunately for Celar, his strike partner Davide Diaw is just off the cusp of double-digits in the race for Serie B’s capocannoniere. Faster than Celar and with just as much work-rate, Diaw eventually forced Celar to more time on the bench as Cittadella played more and more with a lone striker up front. Furthermore, Celar fell victim to a sharp knock at the ankle and a haematoma.
But injury hasn’t stopped the Slovenian forward from moving to Cremonese for the rest of 2019-20, where hopefully he’ll find some composure in front of goal at senior level.
Patrik Schick: Red Bull Leipzig
I barely know anything about German football, so it’s fortunate there’s little of Schick’s exploits that aren’t a YouTube play button away. Before the winter break, the Czech forward racked up four goals and one assist in seven games but has yet to find the back of the net in his two January appearances since. All the more reason why Leipzig are playing the long-game in taking up their 29 million euro option to make Schick permanent. Will they?
“I can’t and don’t want to answer that,” Schick told Bild (via BullNews) on the matter last week but added: “The Leipzig style suits me very well.”
Since that interview, however, Leipzig have let their lead at the top of the Bundlesliga get cut down to a single point ahead of Bayern. The very same German tabloid papers slammed Schick (among 8 other Leipzig players) for flying in a celebrity hairdresser from England to the team hotel, on their trip to Eintrach Frankfurt. The 2-0 loss was a shock for Leipzig, and it isn’t the first time Schick has been accussed of style over substance, whether on or off the pitch. The Czech prodigy is no longer young enough to be labelled a prodigy, having turned 24 years old this month.
It’s only a year left till he’s peak striker age in 2021. Can we honestly say that time is best spent on a return to Rome? His best days ahead most likely lay away from the Italian peninsula, if not necessarily with Leipzig as his final destination.