Usually, Roma being in the Top three of Serie A by Christmas would give cause for celebration, but we’ve been here before and we’ve been here all too recently. The last time Roma were in this position, two years ago, Roma be overtaken by Atalanta, the Roma coach would be fired at the beginning of March, and the sporting director would hand in his resignation on the very same day.
To make matters worse back then, the only coach willing to take the caretaker job believed in a style of football that completely went against what the team had been trained for in the two years prior and so, akin to a dead-cat bounce, Roma took even less points-per-game at the business end of the season then they did leading up to their March implosion. In between those extinction-level events was the club’s decision not to sign any players in January. On many fronts, we’ll be hoping the second half of this current league campaign doesn’t play out as it did for Roma back in the 18/19 season, and the winter transfer window is where history needn’t repeat itself thanks to the relaxation of current Financial Fair Play rules.
We’re just weeks removed from Roma owners The Friedkin Group injecting cash into the club to balance out the pandemic-struck losses of this year. That Friedkin gambit fell in line with UEFA’s position that all club owners around Europe should be given near-free reign to balance the bills with whatever private sources of income they can get their hands on right now. In other words, clubs can balance this season’s books without having to rely on strictly commercial revenue to do it. What’s more, clubs are now allowed to rack up expenses at a greater limit than before, provided they can prove, by the end of 2021, that those losses were tied to stadium closures, loss of TV revenue, and any losses tied to pandemic events.
While the new rules won’t give clubs the free reign to go spending on this winter’s transfer market like money is going out of fashion, it does put a new (and very short-lived) element of risk and reward into the transfer game this January.
This is a time for all clubs fighting at the top of the league, and not just Roma, to consider if it’s worth spending more in the immediate future to shark their way up the league table, or even cement their place there. After all, if you spend a little more this January and finish in the top four by the end of the season, your extra losses right now could be paid back by more than double or triple the Champions League participation bonuses in the 2021-2022 season.
Can Roma and her European rivals afford to pass up such a small but rich window of opportunity this winter? Surely not, which means we’ll be monitoring not just the entry door at Trigoria, but players who may say their last goodbye to the Eternal City this winter, too.
Potential Transfers Out
The big Swede hasn’t featured much in Everton’s current league campaign but, when he has, Olsen has grabbed the headlines for all the right reasons during his limited appearances. It’s that handful of performances that gives ForzaRoma the fuel to report that Everton are considering a move to sign Olsen permanently this January, though there aren’t similar reports coming from the English side of the press on this story.
Olsen himself has only commented cryptically, back in November to Fotbollskanalen (via the Liverpool Echo), that there is a “plan” between himself and Carlo Ancelotti for Olsen to work his way into the team: “It takes time to move to a new country and get to a new club.”
While Olsen bides his time in usurping Jordan Pickford from the number one shirt at Goodison Park, ForzaRoma claims that the Swedish international keeper has served as the perfect number two for the blue half of Merseyside this season. It’s believed Everton are preparing a €5 million offer to secure Olsen’s services permanently, which is the minimum amount Roma would need to break even on Olsen’s move to the Italian capital three summers ago.
This potential January transfer is pure speculation from us, as there haven’t been any outright reports that Nzonzi is set to seal a permanent move to Rennes earlier than anticipated. His long loan abroad will be up by the summer of 2021 but during his time back in France, Nzonzi has made himself indispensable to a Rennes side that’s once again tasted Champions League football, thanks to Nzonzi’s performances at the heart of their midfield.
The current Roma loanee report makes for grim reading, with once-promising names like Riccardi, Fuzato and Bouah completely lost to the wilderness of the substitutes bench at other clubs. And that’s to say nothing of whatever’s happened to Ante Coric’s career. But one shining light in this category is Nzonzi, who led Rennes to Champions League qualification last season (albeit only thanks to last-minute disciplinary action against Rennes’ rivals off the pitch) and has Rennes fighting near the top of Ligue 1 in this current campaign.
Could the French club use their CL windfall to wrap up a permanent Nzonzi signing six months early?
Stop us if you’ve heard this rumor before, but last weekend saw the Gazzetta dello Sport (via TMW) claimed that Pastore is once again a hot property on the January market. But Pastore’s potential move out of Roma won’t be to China—like it so nearly was just under 12 months ago—since the introduction of a salary cap to the Chinese Super League. Instead, Pastore is reportedly getting calls from the United States and Qatar for his career swansong.
Another rumour touted by other media titles is that Roma could use this January window to finally follow through with their idea of terminating Pastore’s contract early, though how you’d argue that kind of expense is tied to the 2020 pandemic is the kind of trickery we’ll leave up to the club’s lawyers, instead of speculating on this story any further.
Potential Transfers In
It’s the club’s worst-kept secret of the winter transfer window, but Roma needs something more on the right flank. They’re not looking for world-class or even groundbreaking play, but just a wide man who can consistently give their play that much-needed drive towards Fonseca’s ideal football.
Sometimes Rick Karsdorp is capable of running at opponents and driving the ball in that way, and the Dutchman’s resurgence this season has been capped by a man of the match performance against Cagliari that led to Karsdorp to taking all the highest match ratings in the Italian papers the next morning. But there remain question marks over Karsdorp’s stamina over the course of 90 minutes, let alone a full season, and the Dutchman’s biggest weapon is, without question, his exquisite ability to find a pass, that’s so good it reminds what being able to cross the ball with precision should look like.
Karsdorp is less of a dribbler than a pass-and-move type of player at the best of times, and Bruno Peres simply isn’t the same player when opponents don’t give him space. Roma are looking for a wide man who can break out of tight spaces, and use his physique to take on and brush past opponents.
Bryan Reynolds doesn’t have to be the best thing since Cafu (who’s just been recently awarded as the Best Right-Back Ever by France Football), he just has to provide relief for Karsdorp on the off days, to help Roma consolidate their position near the top of Serie A this season. Roma have reportedly already gotten the ball rolling with an opening €7.5 million offer, which has led to the usual merry-go-around rumors from the papers since then, that Juventus and other clubs are doing “everything possible” to stop Roma from getting their hands on Reynolds’ signature (as if Europe’s top clubs don’t have anything better to do).
Salvatore Sirigu or Marco Silvestri
We’ve been speculating on Sirigu’s next career move since August, while we first brought you news on a potential move for Verona’s Silvestri at the beginning of this month. The motivation behind either of these two goalkeepers moving to Roma is very different for each player, but the Giallorossi’s interest in signing either player is fuelled by a clear need to upgrade on both Antonio Mirante and Pau Lopez’s recent form between the Roma sticks.
Antonio Mirante continues to be one of the outstanding recent cases of bang-for-buck when it comes to Roma transfer successes, but time (and a long winter season) will catch up to everyone eventually, leaving plenty of room for concern in Mirante’s most recent performances. While Pau Lopez has virtually sealed his status as a contentious name for however long he has left in a Roma jersey, no matter what he does from here on in.
That leaves Roma looking to exploit any opportunities to bring in a more solid goalkeeper from elsewhere. Salvatore Sirigu is a long-term victim of falling out with Torino’s owner (and apparently the current Torino coach Marco Giampaolo, too) as the Italian international keeper remains rooted to the Granata bench, so Sirigu could look to save his career by pushing for a move to Roma.
Meanwhile, Marco Silvestri has worked his entire career to get recognized as an Italian international keeper today. Silvestri is on fire with his performances in the Verona goal this season, but his contract is expiring and Verona could be convinced to cash in on Silvestri this winter rather than watch their starting keeper leave on a free transfer next summer.
We’ll keep you updated through the holiday break, as we’re sure to have plenty more coverage of the winter transfer window ahead.
We kept this piece on the most realistic and affordable potential moves in for Roma this winter, but the news will continue to roll on about any potential sighting of Papu Gomez hitching a train ride down to Rome (which will never happen unless he wants to be excommunicated by Atalanta fans) or Nahitan Nandez getting his name mixed up in a big-money switch to Roma to replace Amadou Diawara, while Stephan El Shaarawy’s return to the Italian capital beckons.