Let me start by saying this: the 2020-2021 Serie A season begins in less than one month. Under normal circumstances, this would be the end of July and Roma would be in the midst of training, transfers that lure 10, 000 people to Fiumicino, and a string of friendly matches against Real, Tottenham or, why not, Tor Sapienza. So you get the picture.
Right now, the club has just been sold to the Friedkin Group, has no official Director of Sport and only recently confirmed its trust in coach Paulo Fonseca. Dan Friedkin’s son Ryan and CEO Guido Fienga are responsible for all current transfer business. Although, the only notable ‘transfers’ up till now are a loan of our third keeper Daniel Fuzato to Portugal, some 18-year-old kid from Slovenia, and Pedro, a 33-year-old who won’t be fit by the start of Serie A due to a shoulder injury. Buyer beware.
Mind you, this was the less negative part of my post. Let’s take a look at each department and the mess Roma still has to clean up in less than one month. Avert your eyes while you can.
Roma currently has three keepers: Robin Olsen, Pau Lopez and Antonio Mirante. Mirante has just been diagnosed with Covid-19, Pau Lopez has been linked with a return to La Liga after a disappointing season and Olsen wants to be nowhere near Rome. Great. Fuzato is gone to gain some much needed experience so I guess some Primavera kid will be our third keeper. Mirante will stay for one more year until his contract expires. But what with Olsen and Pau? Sell, loan, swap, hide in a carton box?
Roma are linked with Salvatore Sirigu, Mattia Perin, Alessio Cragno, Juan Musso and every other Italian keeper who’s not named Buffon. If we indeed look for a new number one, better act fast because he needs to have at least some chemistry with his centre-backs before the new season arrives.
Speaking of centre-backs... Dear Lord. Roma’s arguably best centerback last season, Smalling, is gone and there’s still no word on his comeback due to the stiff upper lip of Manchester United. Talks have been going on for weeks now, while Roma already lost its plan B, Jan Vertonghen, to Benfica.
Juan Jesus (Cagliari, Leicester) and Federcio Fazio (Villareal, Valencia) are not sure if they will stay, which leaves us with Gianluca Mancini, Roger Ibanez and left-back turned center-back Aleksandar Kolarov. Roma would need at least 2-3 CB’s, one of them preferably Smalling. Get on it, Ryan and Guido.
Central midfield. A while ago, Amadou Diawara and Jordan Veretout was the dream combo and the heart of Fonseca’s formation. Now? Talks of a Torreira-Diawara swap with Arsenal and a serious offer from Napoli for Veretout, who would potentially replace Allan in Gattusso’s team. Will Roma give in or not? Gonzalo Villar looks a safe bet and it’s pretty quiet around Bryan Cristante as well. But a pairing of Villar-Cristante is nowhere near as good as the former two. Plus, who’s gonna be on the bench?
On to the two attacking mids: Finally a breather, as this looks OK even with all the expected sales. Lorenzo Pellegrini, Nicolo Zaniolo, Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Carles Perez, Pedro and Javier Pastore can share minutes. You never know if Juve is gonna go all out for Zan the Man but I’m quite hopeful Nicolo will stay put. Roma can even try to find a new home for Pastore last minute.
However, Ryan and Guido do need to get the deals for Perotti, Ünder and Kluivert done soon to raise money for the other departments so this looks like the first domino which needs to fall.
Current options for the right wing-back: Davide Santon, Alessandro Florenzi, Rick Karsdorp, Bruno Peres. Yikes. Davide Zappacosta returned to Chelsea but since he was more injured than not, that’s not a big loss. Bruno Peres looks set to stay in Rome after his renaissance in the 3-4-2-1 (and no noteworthy offers incoming) but Santon (some Turkish teams), Florenzi (Juve, Fiorentina, Everton) and Karsdorp all have admirers. Florenzi would mean a plusvalenza since he’s a youth product while Karsdorp was a more expensive deal.
I think I’m one of the few who would give Ricky another shot, especially if the 3-4-2-1 remains in Fonseca’s plans. But if he’s sold, meh, I won’t lose sleep over it. However, it looks like Guido and Ryan also need to address this position as Bruno Peres as your only RWB in 50 or so games is a recipe for disaster.
Concerning the left wingback: well, Leonardo Spinazzola and that’s it. Riccardo Calafiori if you’re really dig deeper into the matter but the kid’s only 18. I guess Kolarov can also deputize when needed so LWB is no priority for now, but we better pray Spinazzola stays healthy. And my friends, that’s a HUGE prayer. Roma better have a plan B ready.
The last piece: striker. Once again a big question mark. Will Edin Dzeko stay or go? Juve, Inter are possible destinations. And who will his replacement be? And his replacement’s replacement? Kalinic returned to Atletico so Roma actually need to find two quality strikers if Edin is gone. Arkadiusz Milik seems to prefer Juve and the Giallorossi can’t wait forever. And who’s gonna pony up the dough for Schick? Leverkusen? Leipzig? A Premier League team? Just like with Ünder and Kluivert, Roma needs the money to make a move elsewhere.
Either put your trust in Dzeko 100%, get rid of Schick and find a cheaper body double (Bustos for example) or part ways with Edin ASAP and concentrate on a big name. Enough time wasting. Once more: Serie A starts in less than one month and we still don’t know who will score the goals up front.
You simply can’t expect to magically find a striker out of the blue who suits the team like a glove instantly. It needs time, training, tactical lessons etc. Roma’s playing a dangerous game here.
The Final Count
A new number one keeper, a pair of centerbacks, right wing-back, a vice Dzeko, confirm Veretout and Diawara, numerous sales waiting to happen; there’s lots of work to be done and everyday I’m scrolling sites for something, anything official but AS Roma just doesn’t seem to shift into gear.
Do they really believe Jesus, Olsen, Perotti, Fazio or Santon can be a vital part of this team? Do they think we can easily replace either Veretout or Diawara? What if Milik ultimately rejects Roma while Dzeko is already at Inter? Will Cristante be molded into a CB if Smalling goes to Newcastle?
Many questions, only four weeks left. But hey, at least we can laugh at Lazio for losing David Silva.