The winds of the upcoming winter transfer market have been swirling around Trigoria over this holiday break. The latest updates say that Arsenal’s Ainsley Maitland-Nigel has agreed to personal terms with the Giallorossi, which makes his transfer all the more imminent. Meanwhile, Florian Grillitsch, Boubacar Kamara, and Ruben Loftus-Cheek have all been linked to Roma’s midfield in the last few days.
Nevertheless, the outgoing transfer talk has been a bit quiet thus far. All eyes will be on fringe players like Amadou Diawara, Gonzalo Villar, and Borja Mayoral in the coming weeks, as well as the forgotten Federico Fazio and Davide Santon. Moving those players could provide more flexibility for Tiago Pinto for incoming transfers.
However, the first outgoing domino to fall doesn’t appear to be any of those players. Instead it is youngster Riccardo Calafiori.
Transfer guru Gianluca Di Marzio is reporting that Roma and Cagliari have a deal in place for a six-month dry loan of Calafiori; there is no talk of any purchase option or obligation.
Even after tearing an ACL as a 16-year-old, the now 19-year-old Calafiori has been one of Roma's most prized possessions in the youth ranks. He came in at #10 on our most recent U-23 countdown last summer, showing signs of his promise during his somewhat limited first team action. And the fact that this is a dry loan indicates that this is more about Calafiori gaining experience rather than the Roma hierarchy losing faith in the youngster. It’s a move that’s very reminiscent of the loan that former Roma talent Luca Pellegrini made to Cagliari from the capital in order to gain experience.
Despite the fact that Roma has been without star left-back Leonardo Spinazzola for the first half of this season, Calafiori still has found playing time hard to come by, in part due to injury. He’s played just over 400 minutes total between the Conference League and Serie A—providing an assist in each competition.
With Spinazzola on the mend and Matías Viña now acclimated to his new surroundings, playing time likely would’ve been even more limited in the second half of the current campaign. Considering that, this move makes plenty of sense.
Calafiori should be able to compete for minutes straightaway for a Cagliari side that is struggling in the relegation zone. Walter Mazzari is a veteran manager who plays a three in the back system, which means Calafiori will likely compete with Dalbert and Lykogiannis at left wing-back.
If all goes according to plan, this could be a win-win for both Roma and Calafiori. For one, it’ll give the teenager a chance to get regular Serie A minutes, so that he can begin to polish his natural talents on a weekly basis. And for Roma, it’ll be an opportunity to evaluate Calafiori’s growth without having to throw him into the deep end of Champions League race. If all goes well, Calafiori will return to the capital for the 2022-23 season more prepared to help the Giallorossi in the long term.
And that’s something all Romanisti would love to see from one of the club’s Roman talents.