Salmon returning to the site of their birth to spawn before dying. Swallows returning to Capistrano each spring. Canadian geese migrating south every winter. No matter where you look, we're surrounded by annual rites of passage, but when it comes to our favorite football club there is only one tradition that matters: the summer purge.
Financial Fair Play may have just been delivered a gut punch (or kick to the groin) by the Court of Arbitration for Sport—who essentially over-turned FFP's two-year European ban on Manchester City, ruling that there wasn't enough evidence to convict, as it were—but that won't stop Roma from shedding talent this summer. With the club's financial woes running deeper than FFP, we're staring another summer sell-off dead in the face.
You don't need me to run through Roma’s body count again (though it is awfully impressive), but I suppose it's a credit to Roma's scouting and developmental departments that they seemingly always have in-demand young talent. The two names teetering on the brink this summer are Nicolo Zaniolo and Lorenzo Pellegrini, two supremely talented attackers that have become pillars of a relatively young team.
While it's somewhat reassuring to hear each of them reaffirm their commitment to Roma, their wishes and wants ultimately don't matter; the imperative to sell may simply be too strong. But don't go out and purchase a PSG Pellegrini kit or a Spurs Zaniolo shirt just yet, there may be hope.
According to the Corriere dello Sport, Roma CEO Guido Fienga has a Plan B to save Roma's bacon: raise €90 million through a series of smaller deals, which would ideally roll out as follows:
- Pawn off Patrik Schick to Red Bull Leipzig for approximately €25 million
- Sell Justin Kluivert to Arsenal for approximately €22 to €25 million
- Sell Cengiz Ünder to Napoli for approximately €30 to €35 million
Under optimal circumstances, Roma could raise at least €75 million from those three sales, but the CdS includes Alessandro Florenzi (to Fiorentina or Atalanta), Javier Pastore, Diego Perotti, Juan Jesus, Rick Karsdorp, Robin Olsen, Pau Lopez and even Amadou Diawara, Jordan Veretout and Gianluca Mancini as possible victims in this summer's purge.
By raising €90 million in sales, the club would essentially be able to continue treading water until a new owner is brought aboard, and could avoid selling bigger ticket items like Pellegrini and Zaniolo.
As fans, we tend to treat Roma's finances rather glibly: Like, why can't they just sell the scraps to make up the difference? It's a perfectly sound line of reasoning, but there's a reason guys like Karsdorp, Olsen and, until recently, Maxime Gonalons bounce from team to team each summer—they're just roster filler; no one is going to blow down your door to sign them.
It’s like a garage sale; as much as you want to get rid of those boxes of chachkies, no one wants that shit. If you want to raise money for that vacation, you gotta move the good stuff: the pool table, the fancy espresso machine, the leather recliner, your original Da Vinci sketches.
The challenge for Fienga and Baldini will be convincing the broader football world that the trio of Kluivert, Ünder and Schick are worth top dollar. If they can pull in roughly €75 million from those three, you have to like Roma's chances of netting €90 million by then selling Lopez to a Premiership club or perhaps capitalizing on Inter Miami's desire to land a big name like Pastore.
Paulo Fonseca's late-season tactical switch has likely saved his job for next season while indirectly making two potentially lucrative pieces (Ünder and Kluivert) expendable, which may indirectly allow the club to keep Pellegrini and Zaniolo.
You know, just like they drew it up last August.