It’s been a weird 2020 for sporting writing, writing, journalism and explanatory journalism in general. Generally speaking, the biggest journalism think-tanks have canvassed readers’ trust in the news through the pandemic, and the message is starting to become clear: Newspapers are screwed, and online titles are not going to fare that much better.
Years of downsizing the research staff at the biggest news titles has come full circle to haunt those same papers. Now it turns out that the reader would rather go direct to source, to a data analyst or a scientist to get the truth. Why is this relevant to the summer transfer mercato? It seems like, instead of news getting slower, it’s actually getting faster.
Football news portals are trying to squeeze every last tactic they can to get those shrinking 2020 impressions and ad clicks. Now, instead of reading about Karsdorp or Kolarov going for a medical—and the next day transfer completed—you’ve got to read about the POSSIBILITY of Karsdorp getting enough sugar in his diet to get out of bed in the morning. And will he have enough energy to talk down his agents tomorrow? Let alone find enough in the car to make a drive up to Bergamo? Then we can talk about a medical. Then both clubs might haggle over whether the bonuses are 1 million over two years or three years. And so on.
Which is why it was refreshing to get some direct quotes from people who actually make decisions in the footballing world today. At the Calabrese Rock Awards, Roma CEO Guido Fienga was surprisingly ballsy in his statements. While Daniele De Rossi showed up to throw in his 2 cents as well.
Both men were speaking separately in different interviews.
On Roma’s Transfer Policy In The Friedkin Era
Guido Fienga: “I think there’s been a natural step forward from the growth that started from when Pallotta took over the club, who transformed the club from a local existence to more of an international project. Today, that project has truly consolidated itself through a change of ownership, under a group that has more a business background instead of one in finance.”
“We have to give the new owners time to organize themselves and get to grips with all of that. Their approach is exactly what you’re seeing right now. A very serious one even when looking for solutions to all the little problems that will pop up, without leading anyone on, so that we can begin planning for the kind of ambitions a club like Roma must plan for. Putting the focus on this city’s international prospects will be our main focus. As a Roma fan, I would like Roma and the city of Rome to always be seen as a positive symbol of Italy.”
“Right now, I’m looking to help the club do what it needs to do in transfer negotiations, to get the the accounts in order. I maintain the Roma already has a strong team and a brilliant coach. We only have to take care of a few positions where we’ve got open spots, and that’s where we’ll focus. We’re doing everything we can to hold onto our stars, without letting them go. That would be the best move we can make [on the transfer market]. Meaning a transfer campaign that begins with not weaking the team in areas where we’re already the strongest.”
“I hope, by the end of this transfer window, we can talk a totally different transfer policy [from the past]. That’s what we’re basing ourselves on. We already have strong players, and if anyone new arrives it’s because they’ve been judged as able to bring quality and add value to a project that we maintain is already well built.”
Daniele De Rossi: “I don’t want to give Friedkin any advice, because I’m not earning my stripes to become a club director. It’s a good thing that they’re keeping feet on the ground, without making any promises that can’t be kept, especially in a heated place like Rome. It’s better to start calmer and then leave everyone speechless.”
CdT Verdict: There are some things we’ve heard here before, like if a new signing comes it’ll be because we think they can add something to the team, etc. But then there’s definitely a concerted effort from Fienga (and DDR) to draw a line between the past (Pallotta) and future (Friedkin). But the proof will always be in the pudding! We’ll see.
On Dzeko’s Future
Fienga: “Dzeko is Roma captain and, for as long as he wants to be, he’ll remain captain of this team.”
DDR: “I’m honestly not thinking about [a potential Dzeko move to Juventus]. I’m focused on what I want to do with my future, and waiting on dates to be announced for [my exams]. These transfer market affairs are more of interest to you guys.”
CdT Verdict: As we’ve maintained all along, Dzeko’s future is his own decision rather than the club’s. From a Roma perspective, with Dzeko in the form he is, any realistic transfer target on the market right now is just damage control should the club lose Dzeko. The very first few days of Friedkin announcements on their site, as acting owners of the club, had Dzeko in the press release photos. That tells you everything you need to know; if Dzeko leaves, it certainly wasn’t in Roma’s plans.
From Fienga’s words, we also take it that Alessandro Florenzi is a goner, or has given up the captaincy permanently.
On Totti and De Rossi’s Potential Return to the Club
Fienga: “The ties and passion that Totti, De Rossi and Balzaretti have for the club are a given. But I think it’s a mistake to keep putting all this pressure on them, talking as if they will definitely come back to the club [tomorrow]. They looking at career paths that, today, they are learning to specialize in and acquiring specific skills for. And then there’ll be a right moment for their return.”
“We get [a coffee together] often. We have a serene and very good relationship between Totti, De Rossi and everyone. There’s no need to create controversy when there isn’t any.”
DDR: “I’ve spent time in [Alessandro Lucci’s] football agency, that handles players and coaches, and I want to spend more time doing that. It’s part of me getting closer to my work. All the while, I’m thinking about taking coaching exams. Every word I speak on Roma gets taken out of proportion, so it wouldn’t be correct for me to speak on [whether I’d accept coaching Roma after Paulo Fonseca]. I have to walk my own path and respect others’ work. My father tells me that Fonseca is an incredible and exquisite character, and I have huge respect for that.”
“Pirlo was a born talent as a player, who has a footballing vision that’s different to everyone else. He’ll have that as a coach, too. He’ll have a hard start because Juventus demands immediate results, but if there’s anyone who could accept that responsibility it’d be him. He’s shown a lot of character by taking on such a responsibility.”
“So many players haven’t managed to reach the highest level as a coach, while others that I never expected to have become great coaches, for example Simone Inzaghi and Gattuso. I hope to have the opportunity to coach an important club. If it were Fiorentina, I’d gladly walk there [to accept the job] like anyone would. Any Serie A club would already be a good start.”
“I spoke to Francesco a couple of days ago, but we didn’t talk about football. I only read about the news of his possible return on the internet.”
“What kind of football do I have in mind [as a coach]? The expression “my football” makes me laugh. Personally, I’m only waiting to take “my” exams.”
CdT Verdict: Pure class from De Rossi, as always. What is Paulo Fonseca putting in the water at Trigoria? Not that we’re not fans, we’re all for more Fonseca. But everyone who speaks on him seems bewitched by him, from Day 1. The guy certainly didn’t skip classes at charm school.
On Life After Roma
DDR: “To be honest, I don’t especially miss playing football. It’s nice to put some distance between you and the pressure, and waking up without pain. It’s a well earned reward after so many years as a player. I feel like I’d given everything I could to Roma, in the good times and the bad. Though I am starting to hear that I could have given more to Boca.”
“I do miss Roma, always. Especially the fans. When I meet them in the street they remind me of that, but it was such a long journey full of love that I’ve come to terms with it. I had already worked on coming to terms with it before it was time to say goodbye, and I was well prepared for it on my last day, otherwise I wouldn’t have enjoyed the few months after like I did.”
CdT Verdict: What more is there to say? A consummate professional, but much more than that. A well-rounded character like De Rossi should be able to do well in any football role he chooses.