No matter how the 2020-2021 season unfolds for Roma, it will always be haunted by the question of how things may have gone differently had the Friedkin's takeover been completed in March as it was originally planned. Would they have kept Paulo Fonseca as manager? What about Gianluca Petrachi as DS? Would Roma's new owners have jump-started the rebuild in the winter? Would the club have more money at its disposal were it not for the delays in the takeover?
We'll never be able to answer those questions completely, but when we look back on this season, be it six months or six years from now, the what if of the Friedkin takeover will be hard to escape.
What we can say for certain is that, for the first time in several years, Roma more or less stood pat on the transfer market. Sure, they swung for the fences with the indirect swap of Edin Dzeko and Arkadiusz Milik, but, unlike summers past, there were no superfluous signings; no acquisitions that made you immediately question how said player would fit in. No, rather than shopping for the sake of shopping, Roma focused intently on two or three areas of need: center-back, full-back and a backup striker.
While Roma did reasonably well in that pursuit, the only true goal of this summer campaign was to offload redundant players; a task made tougher with many of Monchi's misfits still on the books.
We'll have a transfer market recap podcast coming soon, but for now here are all your Roma comings and goings.
Age: 33 | Position: M/F | Former club: Chelsea | Transfer fee: Free
While Roma nearly captured Pedro during the winter 2020 transfer market, the club ultimately had to wait until August 25th to sign their new attacker. Through three matches, Pedro's appeal is obvious: he's a dynamic, multifaceted attacking threat, one who should enable Paulo Fonseca to throw multiple looks at opponents throughout the course of the match.
Grade: A+. Skill, versatility and experience all on a free transfer; no complaints here.
Age: 20 | Position: CB | Former Club: Hellas Verona | Transfer Fee: €13.5 Million
Long assumed to be a future Lazio or Inter Milan player, Roma quietly signed one of the most promising defenders in Europe in a unique loan swap deal, one that saw Roma essentially send Mert Çetin and two Primavera prospects to Verona in a deal that will, at worst, cost Roma €17 million in actual cash if the final €3.5 million in performance bonuses are met.
While Kumbulla didn't take the pitch in Roma's opener against his former club, he's gone the full 90 in each of Roma's subsequent matches and looks like a perfect partner for Gianluca Mancini and Roger Ibañez in Roma's new look backline.
Grade: A+. Great job by Roma to defray the upfront costs on a defender who could easily double or triple his value in two or three years.
Age: 23 | Position: F | Former Club: Real Madrid | Transfer Fee: Loan w/€15 or €20M option
After missing out on Milik, Roma shifted gears, opting to support Dzeko rather than replace him. After Real Madrid initially deemed Mayoral untouchable, the Spanish club decided to let the 23-year-old forward leave for Roma on a two-year loan deal, one in which Roma holds two purchase options: €15 million in summer 2021 and €20 million in summer 2022.
Grade: N/A. We'll have to wait and see how he adjusts to Fonseca's tactics, but nothing about his track record suggests that he's a €15 million player. If he can find new life in Rome, this could be a hell of a deal for Roma. If not, it's a low-risk loan.
Age: 30 | Position: CB | Former Club: Manchester United | Transfer Fee: €15M
At long last, the saga that's been dragging on since last winter reached its conclusion with barely 20 minutes to spare before the transfer window closed for good—and almost fell through at the last minute thanks to some paperwork deadline disputes between the league office and Roma. Chris Smalling, who United were only too happy to toss out last summer, is finally, officially and fully an AS Roma player.
After several...and I mean several...months of negotiations, Roma finally wised up and realized the same price United wanted in March was the same price they wanted in October: €20 million. According to multiple sources, Roma have landed Smalling on an initial €15 million deal with a further €5 million due in bonuses.
Grade: A+ for the player, C+ for the negotiators. Roma knew the cost all along—United never relented despite rumors suggesting otherwise—and waited until almost the last possible minute to pony up the cash. It all worked out in the end, but not a good look for Roma's transfer department, unless you think United had some sort of strange vendetta.
- Patrik Schick to Bayer Leverkusen: €26.5 million permanent transfer
- Alessandro Florenzi to PSG: Season-long loan with option to buy, rumored to be €9 million
- Aleksandar Kolarov to Inter Milan: €1.5 million permanent transfer
- Alessio Riccardi to Pescara: Loan with option to buy, Roma retain buyback rights
- Cengiz Ünder to Leicester City: Season-long loan with option to buy, terms not disclosed
- Mirko Antonucci to Salernitana: Season-long loan
- Daniel Fuzato to Gil Vicente: Season-long loan
- Mert Çetin to Hellas Verona: Season-long loan with option to buy, may be nullified by Kumbulla deal
- Devid Bouah to Cosenza: Season-long loan
- Justin Kluivert to RB Leipzig: Season-long loan
- Diego Perotti to Fenerbahçe: permanent transfer, terms not disclosed
Roma weren't able to foist Javier Pastore and his enormous salary on anyone (ditto for Juan Jesus), but they did well enough to find new homes for Perotti and Schick while at least getting Florenzi, Kluivert and Ünder's salaries off the books for this season, and may yet find a taker for Robin Olsen if the Everton rumors proved true. Kumbulla and Smalling give Roma perhaps the deepest center-back core the club has seen in several years, while Pedro has already asserted himself in Roma's pecking order, though it remains to be seen what role his countryman Mayoral will assume this season.
Considering the circumstances—the new owners, the pandemic, Fonseca's uncertain future—Roma did a decent job smoothing over the cracks in their roster, with the only remaining blemish being some worrying depth at full-back, particularly on the righthand side, but perhaps they'll address that in January.
Now all we can do is wait until the international break is over, pray none of Roma's players get hurt and see how Fonseca cobbles his new roster into a winning football club.
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