Like nearly everything in the Year of Our Lord 2020, Roma’s summer mercato was equal parts manic and confusing. Many seemingly confirmed transfers were binned at the last second, and Roma’s vacancy at Director of Sport meant that Guido Fienga (who would himself admit that he’s a businessman, not a Director of Sport) ran the show. On the whole, though, the Giallorossi made some interesting moves this summer that shored up the side in particularly weak areas.
If there’s one thing we learned from Roma’s summer mercato, it’s that Roma’s hierarchy is working to get Paulo Fonseca the players he wants. This might seem like an obvious thing for a club to do for their manager, but the rumors swirling around Fonseca’s long-term prospects with the Giallorossi could have resulted in Roma not committing to Fonseca’s tactical wishlist on the market. Given the fact that Guido Fienga fought tooth and nail for players like Chris Smalling and Borja Mayoral, Fonseca should be able to breathe a little bit easier, at least for the rest of the season.
Speaking of players at the top of Paulo Fonseca’s wishlist, Chris Smalling has to be relieved that he’s back in a Roma shirt. The nearly ten-months-long saga of finding a permanent deal for the English international tried the patience of nearly everyone associated with Manchester United or A.S. Roma. Everyone knew Smalling wanted to stay in Rome, just as everyone knew that Ole Gunnar Solskjær had no plans for him to be a part of the Manchester United squad. Yet the deal was continually dragged out, leading to the near embarrassment of Roma not filing every piece of paperwork for the transfer before Serie A’s deadline. Thankfully, the deal did go through, and as a result, Smalling is back wearing Roma’s particular shade of red.
When he signed for Roma on a permanent basis, the defender said “My head and my heart has always been in Rome. I am delighted to now be yours.” We’re delighted your ours too, Chris.
Riccardo Calafiori is largely a winner of the summer mercato because of who left the Giallorossi. With Aleksandar Kolarov moving on to greener pastures, the only roadblock between Calafiori and a spot in the starting eleven is Leonardo Spinazzola. Spinazzola is an underrated player in Roma’s system, so it’s not going to be a walk in the part for Calafiori to become the next Roman-born starter, but there’s definitely an opportunity for him to seize if he wants it.
Edin Džeko was the focus of pages upon pages of transfer rumors this summer, with a move to Juventus reportedly being secured until Aurelio De Laurentiis and Arkadiusz Milik’s squabbling led to the move being scuppered. All of that huffing and puffing and the signing of Borja Mayoral might make a Romanista think that Džeko was an outright loser of the summer mercato, but I’d say he won in a couple of meaningful ways.
With Džeko likely in Rome for another full season, the Bosnian Diamond will be able to end his time in Rome at #3 on the all-time goalscorers list. In addition, Džeko will most likely remain the center of attention on offense for the Giallorossi this season barring an explosion into superstardom by Borja Mayoral. That’s a chance he would never have had if he moved to Juventus. He’ll also be able to cement his status as the second-most influential Roma attacker of the twenty-first century, behind only the namesake of this website. All in all, not a bad summer for a guy who reportedly wanted out of Rome.
Also Edin Džeko
Of course, the fact that Džeko wanted out of Rome and didn’t get that move makes him a bit of a summer loser. As much as the optimist inside of me thinks Roma could pull off a Europa League win this season, there’s no denying that if Edin had made his move to Juventus, he would be in the driver’s seat to win his first Serie A title and perhaps even his first Champions League. He won’t get that chance in Rome, and considering his age, there’s a good chance his failed move to Turin will result in him never getting another major club trophy. That’s got to be a disappointment for him, even if he will have a larger role for Roma this season than he ever would have had with Juventus.
What is there to say about Arek Milik’s aborted move to Rome that hasn’t already been said? It was definitely one of the weirder transfer stories I’ve ever covered for CdT, and the fact that Milik is still in Napoli and not in Rome due to Aurelio De Laurentiis’ insistence that the Polish attack pay an outstanding fine is one that’s going to leave me scratching my head for a while longer.
Instead of staking a claim as Roma’s next superstar striker, Milik is now still at Napoli, yet out of their Serie A and Champions League squads. You have to imagine he’ll find greener pastures in January, but still, what a failure on so many different people’s parts that a player at the peak of his powers is going to be away from the game for at least three more months.
Stephan El Shaarawy
You have to feel for Stephan El Shaarawy. His return to Rome was reportedly all set, but delays in Diego Perotti’s move to Fenerbahce resulted in The Pharaoh having to stay in China at least until January. Now Roma are short a winger, and although the Giallorossi are probably happy to have Perotti’s wages off the books, they’re a little thinner up front than anyone would like.
All signs point to Roma looking to sign El Shaarawy again once the January window opens, so the Italian international may only be a short-term loser; even so, for a player who has always been open about how much he loves the Giallorossi, it was hard to see how obviously heartbroken he was about this move falling through. Cheer up, Stephan; that paycheck from Shanghai Shenhua is still going to cash, so maybe you can just buy a couple more Audemars Piguets to make up for your delayed re-entry into Serie A football.
Roma’s Young Centerbacks (Not Named Marash Kumbulla)
The Giallorossi’s most expensive signing this summer was 20-year-old centerback Marash Kumbulla, and so far, it certainly looks as if it was a good one. Kumbulla has taken to Paulo Fonseca’s tactics quite well in his first few matches with Roma, which has to be at least mildly concerning to Roma’s two other young hotshot centerbacks, Gianluca Mancini and Roger Ibañez. If Fonseca continues to use a three-man backline, there’s no doubt that Kumbulla, Mancini, and Ibañez will all find time to play along with Chris Smalling, but nevertheless, the competition for a starting centerback position in Rome is steeper now than it has been since I started writing for Chiesa di Totti. If Smalling and Kumbulla become full-time starters in Fonseca’s side, you have to wonder which of Mancini and Ibañez will be paired with them. That’s not great news for two players who are looking to become stars in their own right, so although the signings of Kumbulla and Smalling definitely strengthened Roma’s defense, they do mean that this summer, Mancini and Ibañez are probably losers.
So, what do you think? Are there any players who you would say won or lost because of Roma’s mercato? Be sure to let us know in the comments!