Yesterday, when discussing the alternate reality in which Antonio Mirante, not Robin Olsen, was named Roma's starting keeper in the summer of 2018, we (once again) lamented on Roma's reckless transfer campaign from that now infamous summer. Players like Olsen, Steven Nzonzi, Patrik Schick and Bryan Cristante have struggled to live up to their price tags, but their lack of success didn't stem from a lack of effort or good health. The same cannot be said, however, for perhaps the most egregious member of Monchi's Misfits: Javier Pastore.
While he wasn't the most expensive purchase that summer, he was arguably the most questionable transaction Monchi made in 2018. Once seen as the jewel of Serie A during his breakthrough days in Palermo, Pastore never really fit the bill as PSGs first post-takeover mega signing and by the summer of 2018 had seen his standing, performance and role with PSG slip substantially, missing large swaths of the ‘16-’17 and ‘17-’18 seasons with a variety of muscular ailments.
Still, despite those maladies, Pastore was fit enough to make 14 starts (1,346 minutes) during his final season with PSG, adding four goals and four assists in league play for good measure. With a game not necessarily predicated on athleticism, Pastore seemed like the type of player who would age well, using his mental acuity to offset any athletic slippage.
Roma are two-plus years into their Pastore experiment and it's safe to say that assumption was dead wrong. Since signing for the Giallorossi in the summer of 2018, Pastore has spent a grand total of 1,583 minutes on the pitch in all competitions. A lot of those minutes were incredibly effective, with Pastore proving his worth in a variety of positions, but El Flaco has spent more time on the shelf than the pitch, missing large stretches of matches with a variety of calf injuries, ankle fractures and, most recently, hip surgery, which he had this past summer in Spain—a surgery that does not appear to have achieved its intended effect.
Pastore has yet to make an appearance for Roma this season, spending the majority of his time in Barcelona rehabbing his hip with an eye towards returning to action in early January. However, according to Il Romanista, there are now some doubts about Pastore's fitness, even after the hip surgery, a procedure that may even need to be corrected and/or re-done completely.
Should Pastore require a second surgery, or even if his rehab is delayed past January, Roma may exercise a clause in his contract that would allow the club to unilaterally rescind the remainder of his deal, provided he is unavailable for training and/or actual matches for a period of at least 180 days. Pastore's surgery was 84 days ago on August 11th, so the 180 day mark would occur on February 7, 2021. But that cutoff could come even sooner if we use his last appearance (July 27, 2020) as the starting date, and if that's the case, Roma need only to wait until January 23, 2021.
No one can doubt Pastore's innate talent, but given how injured he's already been for the club, his exorbitant salary (€4.5 million net) and remaining years on his deal (signed through June 2023), cutting ties with El Flaco may be Roma's best (and unfortunately, only) move at this point.
On his day, Pastore is one of the most silky and graceful players you'll ever see, but those days have been few and far between in a Roma shirt.
So, what do you think, if they're legally able to do so without incurring any punitive costs, should Roma cut bait?