It only takes a few (very) good games for the headlines to turn your way. We’ve said it many times before and Rick Karsdorp is the latest giallorosso to exemplify that Romaverse truism. In just a matter of weeks, Karsdorp has gone from being written about as “fighting for his Roma career” to this morning’s headline, from ForzaRoma, that Karsdorp is now one half of Serie A’s most prolific assist-creating couple, together with teammate Henrikh Mkhitaryan.
That’s a headline that’s equal parts convoluted, hilarious, and yet thoroughly well-deserved. Everyone likes a comeback story and, while last season’s was firmly owned by the rebirth of Bruno Peres, this season’s comeback hero Karsdorp is more spectacular in his eye for a final pass and exquisite delivery, not to mention the pace and the motor on him once Rick gets going. And yet Roma still have a problem: they lack a true alternative to share the burden with Rick Karsdorp down the flank.
Sure, there is the aforementioned Peres, and some might remember the club (on paper, at least) employs Davide Santon—wherever he disappeared to. And there’s Leonardo Spinazzola’s ability to play on either wing but, when it really boils down to it, Roma are looking for a right-flank player that can really break the mold. Karsdorp is good, sometimes even very good, but he’s not bulletproof. He takes his time to build confidence in a match, and would sometimes rather play off the shoulder of an opponent that really get into a mano-a-mano with them.
That’s all very well and good, and we could even praise Karsdorp’s hyper-awareness of how and when to attack spaces ahead of him (even if his defensive awareness of those very same spaces leaves something to be desired), but sometimes you want to look at your bench and know you’ve got a player ready to come on and just crowbar their way down the flanks, no matter how small the gap between the ball and the touchline.
Neither Peres nor Santon are those types of players, leaving Roma looking for that magic fourth man who can complement the talents of Spinazzola, Karsdorp, and Roma-hopeful Riccardo Calafiori. So here are two candidates linked (and re-linked) with Roma’s January transfer campaign, this week.
Sky Sport: Roma Re-Open Talks with Lille for Zeki Celik
We brought you word of Roma’s interest in Celik last month, and Sky have broken the story overnight that the Giallorossi are back in the mix for the Turkish right-back’s signature. As we mentioned previously, this isn’t Roma’s first approach for Celik and he was very close to moving to the Italian capital back in the summer before Roma essentially ran out of funds to really make any headway in talks (if Roma ever had those funds in the first place).
On that note, Celik isn’t getting coming much cheaper this time around. He’s still reportedly rated at 15 million euros by Lille, for a player who’s made 15 appearances in all competitions so far, this season. Celik has also registered two assists and two goals to boot.
A goalscoring, assist-making wing player with the potential to improve? Sounds like the Turkish Calafiori down the right flank. There’s just one difference though: Celik is already 23 years of age. And though 15 million is what you’d expect to pay for a name with the potential to grow into a top-level wide player, it begs the question of whether Roma can really afford that level of team-building right now.
How will Roma plan to split the minutes between Celik and Karsdorp, AND make the best out of both player’s transfer value? Another Houdini act for Paulo Fonseca awaits. I’d personally welcome the move, as Roma signing another Turkish player gives me more excuses to watch my Ay Yapim Turkish crime dramas and claim it’s language practice. Make it happen.
Repubblica: Tiago Pinto Targets River Plate’s Gonzalo Montiel
An alternative transfer target comes in the shape of Argentine 24-year-old wide player Gonzalo Montiel, in a story brought to us by Reppublica (via ForzaRoma) that mentions Montiel’s contract with Los Millionarios is expiring in the summer; which makes Montiel a far more feasible target for Roma’s current budget.
And then there’s the fact that Tiago Pinto is going to want to start printing his own stamp on this football club, so who wants to do that with re-heated transfer targets from last summer anyway?
I won’t pretend like I’ve seen much Argentinian football lately but, judging from the highlights package (those famous last words), Montiel knows how to Round it like Rick—or Bend It like Beckham—looking for the opportunity to make the ball do the work for him and thread it through defensive lines with his early passing, if he isn’t running behind the defense to provide the spare option himself. Montiel may not everyone’s first-choice candidate to become a marauding right-back in Rome but, as a rotation option with the potential to push for a starting spot, he could definitely fit the bill as the right-back we deserve right now.