Tiago Pinto was a bit of an unexpected hire for Roma's vacant DS position, so much so that he was given an entirely new job title: General Manager, Football. We're still not sure exactly what that means, but that comma leaves a lot of room for interpretation. Is he the Director of Sport masquerading under a different job title or is he more of a big picture orchestrator who leaves the actual football decisions to scouts?
We may never have a genuine answer to those questions, especially since Roma's two first pieces of business under his watch were either just a continuation of business from the summer (Stephan El Shaarawy) or likely the result of some Friedkin networking (Bryan Reynolds), but Pinto's human resources skills are being put to the test immediately.
With his manager and his club captain engaged in a cold war over the past several weeks (if not months), Pinto tried unsuccessfully (as far as we know) to find a new home for Dzeko, but in the absence of a last-minute transfer, Pinto has been forced to put on his Dr. Phil pants to mediate a dispute that could have potentially torn the locker room in two.
Pinto didn't share any homespun Portuguese wisdom with the press earlier today, but he did speak on the Dzeko vs. Fonseca feud and the future of the club captaincy. (Translations via Football Italia and/or Google)
I don’t want to find an escape route, it’s important to understand that inside a club there are the dynamics that similar to those of families and families become stronger by solving their problems
Edin is a strong footballer, a great professional with great experience and personality and Fonseca is the leader of our project, he’s done a great job and he is the right person to build the future of the club
Over the last few days, we’ve had meetings together in order to strengthen mutual trust. We came out happy and confident, now we must focus on the collective good which is more important than the interest of individuals.
It would have been foolish to expect Pinto to reveal what was actually said between Dzeko and Fonseca, but, if nothing else, he's taking a pro-active approach. On the future of the captain's armband, Pinto was surprisingly non-commital
I am convinced a club must be based on rules, right now Edin is not the captain, but we are working for the club’s good and Dzeko will be the first one to work for this
It’s a strategic choice that involves the coach and the club. It must be a shared decision. However, the coach is free to make his tactical decisions, obviously nobody from the club will interfere.
Tiago, Tiago, Tiago. Come on, buddy. We all know Lorenzo Pellegrini is going to inherit the armband full-time; there's no need to play coy.
Hey, speaking of Pellegrini, his contract is expiring soon and he's now one of the best midfielders in Europe—maybe we should think about locking him down?
Lorenzo was the only player I talked about individually in the first press conference and I did it because all of us in the club think he represents the values of our project. He is a talented young man, but he is also a very strong and dedicated worker, we are optimistic and we plan to do everything, we will see his agent soon
Pellegrini, as well know, has a €30 million release clause in his contract, which is set to expire in June 2022, and with his star on the rise across Europe, extending Pellegrini’s contract, with a higher wage and a higher release clause (or none at all), should be Pinto's top priority before the summer market begins in July.
Speaking of which, Pinto spoke briefly on his first two signings:
I’m an ambitious and demanding person with myself, I believe that El Shaarawy and Reynolds are part of the club’s project, they can make Roma stronger. We also worked to find solutions at the exit, we have players who play little and who are less happy, on this point I am not satisfied because we have not been able to satisfy them
Outside of extending Pellegrini, Pinto will likely spend most of the summer attempting to find new homes for some of Monchi's misfits; players like Javier Pastore and Davide Santon, who are drawing pretty hefty salaries while enjoying the view from the stands.
Pinto then spoke about Pastore's situation:
In our experience, it’s normal for a player who doesn’t play to be unhappy. The professional always wants to play, even more so as in the case of Pastore who was injured. We worked together with the players’ agents to make it possible to reconcile the interests of their clients and Roma. For a variety of reasons, we haven’t found a solution. Now the market is closed, we are a family and we will all work at our best for the interests of Roma
Pastore has recently returned to group training and even made last week's squad list but hasn't seen the pitch since last summer. He's still an incredibly talented player when healthy, but anything Pinto can do to shed that salary will be tremendously beneficial to Roma's long-term ambitions.
On Fonseca's future:
All the reports that have circulated regarding alleged meetings with other coaches are false. We are satisfied with Paulo Fonseca, my relationship with the coach is very good, he did not allow himself to be distracted by these rumors and remained focused on Juventus and the upcoming matches. Me, Dan and Ryan are satisfied with Fonseca, with whom we work for the present and the future of Roma
Pretty standard press-talk there, but we'll see how satisfied they are if Roma misses out on the Champions League, which, despite Pinto's assertion otherwise, will be the litmus test for Fonseca's future in Rome.
With the transfer window shut and the wounds between Fonseca and Dzeko starting to heal (or at least no longer festering), we can finally look forward to Roma's match with Juventus this week, but will Dzeko be part of that team?
Stay tuned for our Juventus vs. Roma coverage this week for an answer!