With less than a week until Serie A shuts the mercato gates for the summer, there’s a frenzy of last-minute activity hitting the Roma transfer radars right now. But the news doesn’t just stop there, as Roma continues to re-structure itself as a club in every sense.
Here are the latest rumours, confirmed reports and everything in between, all while Paulo Fonseca has to ready his troops for the trip to Udinese this weekend.
Italy Considering Goal Celebration Ban
If you like Jordan Veretout peeling away in celebration, running into the arms of assist-man Henrikh Mkhitaryan against Juventus last weekend, then cherish the footage as it may be the last time you see it for a while. It looks like Genoa’s outbreak of 14 covid-positive cases has the country rattled this week, as Italian vice-minister of health Pierpaolo Sileri took to the Rai radiowaves last night to demand a ban on players hugs and goal celebrations, mirroring restrictions placed on the rest of the country during the pandemic.
“Hugs and celebrations on the pitch should be banned,” said Sileri, “and social distance should be maintained. If one positive case in a team has turned into fourteen cases, that can only mean the virus has gone around, and social distancing was not maintained. Just because we get a negative test result we shouldn’t think ourselves invincible. Continuing to maintain social distance is fundamental.”
The government’s thoughts didn’t stop there, as Sileri pondered the need to suspend all footbal fixtures for seven days, in the event more players test positive: “If there would to be more cases in Napoli then I, as both a doctor and vice-minister, would say the best thing would be to stop play for at least seven days. We will have to act as we did during the first outbreak.”
Who could’ve imagined that the FIGC sandbagging its testing protocols would backfire? https://t.co/XkP9R0BaTr— Viola Nation (@Viola_Nation) September 30, 2020
On the face of it, this makes the Italian government sounds like killjoys.
But Sileri’s view isn’t unreasonable, as he did bring up the valid examples of everyday people not being allowed to even hug one another in consolation at funerals in 2020. So it seems like the government is just asking the televised spectacle of football to, once again, merely set an example.
Our sister site, Viola Nation, went into further detail about how Serie A negotiated themselves into this mess. And it’s in Florence where we go to for our next rumor.
Could Vlahovic’s Fiorentina Misery Be Roma’s Gain?
Before we get to this story, I have to say Fiorentina have—once again—come out with some of the most beautiful kits in Serie A. That’s something I already knew from watching Daniela Sabatino bang in goal after goal with the Viola women’s side earlier this summer, but seeing the away kits on Dusan Vlahovic this morning and... wow. Ten out of ten for Kappa.
Kits were also the talking point of Vlahovic’s summer, as he made headlines with the Corriere Fiorentino by being awarded Gabriel Batistuta’s number 9 jersey. Vlahovic is by no means the first player to wear Fiorentina’s number 9 since Batigol, but the fact the club deliberately moved over Christian Koume to the number 11 shirt for Vlahovic was seen as Fiorentina’s effort to lock down the Serbian striker to the club.
And naturally, it’s been all downhill for relationships between club and player since.
Not only did 20-year old Vlahovic reportedly have several confrontations with coach Beppe Iachini about the former’s on-pitch discipline this summer (after getting into an on-pitch fight with Lazio’s Patric mid-game) but the player seems to have taken criticism of his recent performance against Inter Milan to heart. Vlahovic blew goal chances, took to his own defence on Instagram after the game, and then spent the rest of the night deleting every single post ever made on his account as a way to shut out criticism from the fans.
Now Siamo La Roma are reporting that Vlahovic’s agents are back in talks with Roma, this morning, to rekindle a potential move to the capital as vice-Dzeko. But is Roma really the club you want to come to, when you’re looking to get away from criticism of missed goal chances? You might want to think twice, Dusan.
Roma Make €15 Million Offer to Man Utd for Chris Smalling
We know you’re tired of reading updates on this one, and we’re tired of writing them. But Paulo Fonseca wants this move to happen, Chris Smalling wants it to happen and we want it to happen. Gazzetto dello Sport reports that Roma will make a 15 million euro bid for Chris Smalling today, and other sources report that Roma are willing to do an immediate permanent transfer into of a loan-with-mandatory-buy setup that would have delayed payment for another 12 months.
Do the details really even matter anymore? At some point either Roma will cave (and sources report that they will turn to Santos centre-back Lucas Verissimo, Schalke’s Ozan Kabak or Galatasaray’s Marcao if that happens) or Manchester United will cave.
The bottom line here is that signing Chris Smalling is not only the way to back the coach, but practical team-building. You can spend a boatload on Kumbulla, Mancini and Ibañez and that will all be money down the drain unless they have an experienced teammate to help bring their potential to reality.
You can read plenty of web talk about how spending money on players past 30 is a bad investment in itself, but that’s a picture in isolation. Consider the stalled careers of Schick, Under, Pellegrini and Kluivert during their 18/19 season together in Roma. None of them had anything like the maturity or experience to take cues from one another, let alone learn how to push one another to the next level.
What they needed was a Pedro. And what Roma’s young defensive unit needs today is Chris Smalling.
Roma Ask Man Utd About Diogo Dalot
Roma’s business with Man Utd doesn’t end with Chris Smalling this week, as Tuttomercatoweb report that the Giallorossi are looking to take Portuguese right-back Diogo Dalot off United’s hands. Roma apparently have competition from AC Milan for bringing Dalot to the peninsula, but Paulo Fonseca and his staff were reportedly “immediately in favour” of bringing Dalot to the club when Roma’s management floated the idea to the coaching staff.
The picture painted from the British press, however, is different.
The Metro reports that Man Utd coach Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is looking to sell Dalot permanently, because Solskjaer feels Dalot lacks aggression, assertiveness on the ball and strength in the tackle.
Those qualities are exactly what’s missing from Roma’s current right-back selection, and the reasons why they waved goodbye to Alessandro Florenzi. So it really boils down to whether you trust Solksjaer’s read on football players, or Paulo Fonseca’s own. Then again, lacking aggression in the Premier League doesn’t mean the same thing as it does in Serie A.
There’s no word on how much Man Utd would ask for the 21-year old right-back Dalot but, with Roma and Milan wanting to loan the player and United only keen on a permanent transfer, there’s plenty of room for Roma and United to rage-block each other on WhatsApp once again.
Roma Reject Another Mega Offer for Ibañez
Staying on the topic of FFP concerns, several sources through the night, including Tuttomercatoweb, have confirmed that Roma outright rejected a €30 million offer from Leicester City for centre-back Roger Ibañez. This comes after Roma reportedly turned down a similar offer from Tottenham Hotspur at the weekend.
We opened up the discussion by ranking Ibañez in our top 3 spots, in this summer’s U-23 countdown, but now it’s obvious to see Ibañez sets the standard for the performance levels that Roma’s backline can achieve this season. With still only 12 Serie A appearances to his name (that’s nothing!), the 21-year old Brazilian is already wanted for over three times the fee that Roma snagged him for this past January.
That Roma even landed Ibañez for such a paltry sum paid to Atalanta is a feat in itself but, with FFP concerns coming home to roost in summer 2021, it’s going to be an even bigger miracle to see Roma resist selling the Brazilian within the next twelve months.
Toyota to Replace Hyundai as Roma’s Rear Shirt Sponsor?
And on that very note, while we’re waiting for the new Friedkin era to figure out something we haven’t seen for over a decade and somehow keep the spine of the team together, Il Romanista reports that the Italian division of motor giant Toyota are working on becoming Roma’s new rear shirt sponsor from the summer of 2021 onwards.
This move has been touted since Dan Friedkin first become associated with the club, for obvious reasons. With Friedkin’s fortune being maintained through his alliance with the Japanese carmaker, it’s a conflict of interest to have South Korean manufacturer Hyundai on the back of the shirts. But now the shift to Toyota money has officially picked up steam, and it’s reported the final decision will be handed to executives at Toyota Europe.
Expect this deal to take some time though, as it could be tied in with the Stadio della Roma getting approved this season. Roma’s incumbent mayor Virginia Raggi is fully locked in to gambling her re-election bid on getting the stadium greenlit, so we could be waiting until the new year for the picture with Toyota to change big time.
Not only is the car giant interested in stamping the back of Roma’s jerseys, but Toyota have been long-since been rumoured to be sounding out the opportunity to become Roma’s main stadium sponsor. We wait to see if The Friedkin Group can wield as much influence in the multi-national car business as the Agnelli family have done with the FIAT Group (and shirt sponsor Jeep) for decades.