When Roma broke the bank for Patrik Schick three years ago—to the tune of a club record €42 million transfer fee—expectations were sky high. Fresh off a break through season with Sampdoria, Schick was arguably the hottest commodity on the transfer market in the summer of 2017, and certainly within Serie A. So when Schick failed his Juventus medical, Roma were quick to snap up the then 21-year-old Czech forward, arranging one of the more complicated transfer schemes we've seen in recent season; Roma only just paid the final €20 million owed to Sampdoria this past winter.
To say things didn't go according to plan for Roma and Schick is a gross understatement. Before spending the 2019-2020 season on loan with Red Bull Leipzig, Schick made only 58 appearances in all competitions for Roma between the summers of 2017 and 2019.
While that may seem like a lot of time on the pitch, the sum total of Shick's career in Roma amounts to only 3,037 minutes, or roughly what Aleksandar Kolarov—who arrived the same summer as Schick—logged in Serie A during 2017 alone. In addition to those 3,037 minutes, Roma received a grand total of eight goals and one assist in return for their €42 million.
Those are pretty bleak numbers, but as his 10 goals and two assists in 22 league appearances for Leipzig suggest, the failure may have been more Roma's than Schick's. Although he’s not blameless, and was probably never quite as good as his transfer fee suggested, those three thousand minutes—most of which saw him horribly miscast as an out and out winger—are an indictment of Roma's entire organizational philosophy during the ill-fated Monchi era.
Can anyone truly say that Schick was given a fair shake at Roma? Did they have such blind faith in Monchi and EDF that they ignored Schick's poor tactical fit with the club and manager? Were they just assuming that a 21-year-old kid with €42 million sitting on his slim shoulders would magically figure it out? To invest so heavily in a player and then treat his development so haphazardly is so counter-intuitive and so counterproductive that it almost defies explanation.
But worry no more, my friends. Roma finally found a permanent landing spot for Schick: Bayer Leverkusen. Moments ago, the club officially announced a €26.5 million transfer of the 24-year-old forward, with Roma entitled to 10% of any future sale as well. While that's a far cry from the €42 million they invested, it does actually put the club ahead when you consider the amortization of the now three-year-old deal.
Kudos to the club for making the best of a bad situation, but this is one instance in which Roma were the architects of their own misery.
Best of luck, Patrik. Maybe we'll see you in the Champions League some day.