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Hector Moreno Reflects on his Brief Roma Tenure

What makes a transfer special or disastrous? JonAS tries to find an answer… and didn’t succeed

Genoa v AS Roma - Italian Serie A Photo by Jeroen Meuwsen/Soccrates/Getty Images

Revelations. There’s never really a good timing, is there? A one night stand that goes wrong nine months later. Manipulating an election or two. It’s always a painful moment and a one way ticket to hell for sure.

This morning I almost spilled my coffee while reading Hector Moreno’s revelations of his short Roman stint back in 2017. PSV defender Moreno signed a four-year-contract with Roma but lasted only seven months as he already left in the winter mercato of 2018. Roma sold him to Real Sociedad for €6 million and recuperated the entire transfer fee. Hector never really broke the Fazio-Manolas combo while Di Francesco preferred Juan Jesus as 1st option from the bench.

After a handful of appearances, the Mexican defender left and Roma brought back Elio Caprodossi as his replacement as fourth CB on the team and Jonathan Silva as vice-LB for Kolarov. Elio Capradossi and Jonathan Silva. Yikes. No wonder Hector still had nightmares from his extensive Roman city trip 2 years later.

And so now 32-year-old Moreno, a Mexican international with more than 14 seasons in professional football, dared to say these words out loud:

“When joining Roma I didn’t know how to defend. I’ve never learned so much as in those seven months. They would explain things to me in training and I’d say: ‘How is it possible that I didn’t know this?”

Okay. Now I know the step up from the Netherlands to Serie A isn’t exactly baby steps but I didn’t see this coming. After all, he also played four seasons in Spain against the very best: Barcelona, Real, Atletico

“I always worked with coaches who preferred to focus on attacking football.”

Could be that defending isn’t really a necessity in the Dutch top league (and I guess the Mexican one as well). But if you’re trying to stop Messi, Neymar, Ronaldo, Benzema or Falcao, let’s hope you can tackle or mark your man.

Now, I’m sure Moreno is a pretty decent defender. No, I’m certain he is. He’s won titles with both club and country. But this goes to show it’s frikkin’ difficult to predict transfers and we should cut guys like Sabatini and Petrachi some slack. Is it really possible a 29-year-old defender learns a lot of new things in Serie A after four seasons in Spain or almost 100 games with his Mexican NT? I think not even the best sporting director in the world (no, not you Monchi) couldn’t have seen this coming.

Not that long after Moreno left, Roma’s board made the same ‘mistake’ with bringing in Ivan Marcano. Almost a like-for-like replacement for Moreno. Left footed, can also play leftback when needed, tall, international experience, around his 30s. FREE. What’s not to love? And guess what? Marcano left after only year and approx. 13 games. He was considered a flop. Strange.

Same thing goes for Marcano: He’s a good defender, he’s shown his talent at Porto. But Porto (or PSV/Espanyol in Moreno’s case) aren’t AS Roma. Both deals were low risk, high reward, so there was no big financial loss. On the contrary: Marcano was sold with profit. At first I thought these two (let’s call them M&M) were smart pieces of business, but now I’m a bit flabbergasted how it all turned out, especially after Moreno’s words.

For every good deal outside Italy (Manolas, Lamela, Castan, Gervinho, Strootman, Riise, Woj, Chivu, Ünder, Mexes) there is a worse one waiting just around the corner (Karsdorp, Coric, Stekelenburg, Ucan, Antunes, Bastos, Olsen, Skorupski, Doumbia, Piris, Goicoechea). I guess there’s no real explanation for it. Part of it is luck I presume, look at how Alisson or Marquinhos eventually turned out.

You could say chances are lower if the player is from let’s say Netherlands, Croatia, Portugal, Greece or Russia. But again, that’s pure speculation. We’ve had disappointing players from Spain, Germany, France or England as well (Cole, Angel, Bojan, Faty, Grenier, Kuffour, Nzonzi, Gonalons, Kjaer, Gago, Vermaelen).

Then there’s the gold category of Pizarro, Perrotta, Brighi, Taddei, Vucinic, Tonetto, Cassetti or later on Benatia, De Sanctis, Balzaretti, Radja and Mirante. They were smart buys inside Italy. Very low risk, very high reward.

On the other hand: Adriano, Destro, Defrel, Loria, Zukanovic, Spolli, Iturbe, Motta, Tachtsidis, Ibarbo, Bruno Peres, Andreolli, Esposito, Castellini, Mario Rui, Bradley all came from Italy itself, looked like smart deals in the beginning (well, most of them), but never settled in Rome. Why? Why why why?

Sabatini, Monchi or Petrachi can have all the data and videos in the world, most of the times it remains Russian Roulette. There are no guarantees. Sign one, hide your eyes and hope to avoid a disaster. However, I’m glad my Roma hasn’t lost its ‘transfer touch’ just yet. Not only in Italy but across all European leagues, big or small.

Just look at how good Smalling, Mikhi, Veretout, Diawara and Kluivert are doing.