We're going to take a merciful break from the European Super League mishegoss and turn our attention back to the pitch. Specifically, to pitches outside of Roma where several erstwhile Giallorossi players are experiencing varying levels of success with their new clubs. Our last loan update, way back in January, was a rather grim look at Roma's army of loanees who, apart from former club captain Alessandro Florenzi at PSG, were struggling to find success in their new homes.
From Cengiz Ünder to Justin Kluviert to Robin Olsen, Roma had more than a few big-ticket items destined to be returned. So, in the absence of any actual football news, let's check in with Monchi's Misfits and see if they're faring any better as we round the bend towards the end of the 2020-2021 season.
First up, our dear old Ale.
Club: PSG | Terms: Loan w/option | Contract: June ‘23
Stats (all comps): 23 appearances, 2 goals, one assist, 6.9 WhoScored rating
It still feels somewhat shocking that Florenzi, a guy who could never shake the slings and arrows of the Roma press, somehow wound up at one of the biggest clubs in the world, but with 23 appearances and approximately 2,300 minutes in all competitions, Florenzi has been a key piece for the Parisians this season. Ale hasn't done much by way of counting statistics (only two goals and one assist) but he's been a constant presence in PSG's lineup.
So much so that we simply assumed that PSG wouldn't bat an eye when exercising their reported €9 million purchase clause. But that assumption hasn't born any fruit...yet.
Perhaps Florenzi isn’t PSG's top priority and they'll activate that clause in due course, but with Florenzi set to return to Roma in little more than eight weeks, it's fair to question whether or not PSG were ever truly committed to keeping Florenzi; he may very well have been a cheap stop-gap solution.
Florenzi is still just 30-years-old, is as versatile as ever, and has two more years remaining on his Roma deal beyond this season, so he could provide a steady, veteran presence alongside Rick Karsdorp and Bryan Reynolds at that right-back spot while also plugging in at midfield or wing.
All things considered, Florenzi's loan has been Roma's high watermark in that department, but it's looking increasingly likely that he'll return.
Club: Leicester City | Terms: Loan w/option | Contract: June ‘23
Stats (all comps): 19 appearances, 2 goals, 2 assists, 6.47 WhoScored rating
Now, don't let those 19 appearances fool you, Ünder has amassed only 945 minutes on the pitch all season long, meaning he's played approximately 300 minutes since our January check-in. Leicester City may very well remain intrigued by Ünder's potential—he's still just 23 after all—but the smart money rests on Ünder returning to Roma next season to fill Carles Pérez's role as the fast guy off the bench.
We're still talking about a guy who put up decent numbers in a part-time role with Roma, so don't write him off completely, but he starting to feel like a perpetual loanee until that deal expires in two years.
Club: RB Leipzig | Terms: Loan | Contract: June ‘23
Stats (all comps): 22 appearances, 2 goals, 1 assist, 6.41 WhoScored rating
Kluivert and Ünder will forever be tied at the hip in the eyes of many Roma fans. Two speedy, über athletic wingers capable of dribbling past any defender on the planet, they're a FIFA or PES gamer's dream come true. But, the cold hard truth is that video game traits don't always translate to real life.
Much like Ünder, Kluivert's appearance numbers belie the truth: the 21-year-old Kluivert has played only 819 minutes this season and has gone the full 90 only once for Leipzig this season. However, unlike Ünder, Kluivert's loan had no option to buy, so we can only assume he's held in somewhat higher esteem by the Roma brass, though new GM Tiago Pinto wasn't in place when this loan went through, so Kluivert could very well remain surplus to requirements.
But, as we said in January, Kluivert has the benefit of youth on his side. Still just 21, Kluivert is every bit as athletic as Ünder but always seemed more willing to do the dirty work of a winger, so he may yet have a future with Roma.
Club: Everton | Terms: Loan | Contract: June ‘23
Stats (all comps): 11 appearances, 3 clean sheets, 6.71 WhoScored rating
Yes, Monchi gave the statuesque Olsen a five-year deal fresh off the 2018 World Cup bounce, as hard as that might be to believe. As the immediate replacement for Alisson, Olsen was never likely to get a fair shake in Roma, but, by nearly any metric, his time in the capital was a tremendous disappointment.
And, sad as it is to say, not much has changed since then. While Olsen availed himself well enough with Cagliari last season, the Islanders had no interest in keeping the Swedish keeper aboard, leaving Roma panicked to find a taker for Olsen's massive stature and massive wage packet.
Somewhat surprisingly, Carlo Ancelotti stepped up to help his hometown club and seemed keen on keeping Olsen in Merseyside full-time, with rumors of a swap for Paulo Fonseca's former protege, Bernard, bandied about during the winter transfer window.
That never came to pass, though, and Olsen has remained firmly entrenched as Jordan Pickford's backup. Maybe Everton will make the move permanent, but all signs point towards another summer scramble to find a new home for Olsen.
None of these updates have been great, but gird your loins, shits about to get really bleak.
Club: Pescara | Terms: Loan w/option | Contract: June ‘23
Stats (all comps): 7 appearances, 1 goal.
The fact that we had to use a picture of Riccardi in last season's Roma kit tells you everything you need to know about his time with Pescara. Unless Roma offers Pescara a honey of a deal, the Dolphins aren't likely to exercise that option, meaning that Riccardi, who only just turned 20-years-old, will return to the city of his birth come July 1st.
Riccardi is still a baby in footballing terms, but if Roma can't figure out a proper developmental path for this kid, his career is likely to flounder.
Club: Cosenza | Terms: Loan | Contract: June ‘21
Stats (all comps): 9 appearances, 180 minutes, 0 goals, 0 assists
When we last checked in with Bouah in January, he played a grand total of 112 minutes for Cosenza in Serie B. In the ensuing three months, he's racked up an additional 68 minutes. Yikes.
There's no way to take the stink off this one. Yes, Bouah has battled through multiple ACL tears in his brief career, but with young full-backs like Riccardo Calafiori and Bryan Reynolds carving out their own niche with the senior club, Bouah's days as a Roma player and prospect are effectively done.
It's a sad end to a tumultuous youth career for Bouah, so let's hope he can land on his feet somewhere on the peninsula.
Club: Salernitana | Terms: Loan w/option | Contract: June ‘22
Stats (all comps): 3 appearances, 18 minutes, 0 goals, 0 assists
(insert cricket noises here)
At 22-years-old, Antonucci's days as a prospect are numbered and while he has a year remaining on his deal, we can safely say he'll never see the light of day with Roma. Antonucci is the perfect example of the skewed expectations we have for footballers.
We may very well look back 10 years from now and Antonucci will still be playing somewhere. Not every kid turns out to be a superstar or even a role player, but at the end of the day, if he can get paid to play football, more power to him—that's better than what most people do for a living.
You may recall that Roma keeper Daniel Fuzato—who was sent on loan to Portuguese club Gil Vicente last summer—returned to Roma in January. And while he hasn't played since then, with Roma's domestic campaign effectively on ice, perhaps we'll see Fuzato between the sticks down the stretch.
Salvatore Pezzella, a 20-year-old midfielder and Roman boy, has spent the season on loan with Serie B club Reggianna and has established a small role with the club, logging 533 minutes across 21 appearances.
Ante Coric, aka the next Luka Modric, has actually played for two different clubs this year—VVV Venlo in the Dutch League and Olimpija in Slovenia—racking up 337 minutes. Another tremendous swing and miss from Monchi.
Roma are at the dawn of a new era under the guidance of the Friedkin Group and new GM Tiago Pinto, so the entire organizational philosophy is only now entering a transition phase. We're already seeing the sand shifting with a new kit deal with New Balance, the scrapping of the stadium plans at Tor di Valle, and very likely with a new coach come July.
Roma's new leaders aren't beholden to the path forged by their predecessors, and that includes the names and faces on this list. And while it won't be that easy to move on from these players, they're nothing more than the remnants of the past; reminders of a bygone era where lofty ideals were seldom met with tangible progress.
The Friedkin Group won't get every decision right (no club does) but one gets the feeling that they're adamant about charting their own course: in finances, in infrastructure, and in youth development.
So while the players on this list do have some value as footballers and as transfer commodities, Roma's new leadership has no emotional bond to these players, so there may be no second (or third, or fourth) chances for these players to make (or re-establish) their names in the Eternal City.