I’ll tell you all a little secret. Sometimes, I get tired of the love Walter Sabatini receives among Romanisti. Don’t get me wrong, I think he’s a great Director of Sport, and he’s without a doubt the best one Roma’s had in the 21st century (the jury’s still out on Tiago Pinto, and he’s not even a DS, he’s a GM). Yet I feel justified in grumbling at Sabatini’s habit of relying on outside talent to build his squad; sure, Marquinhos was a one-in-a-million buy, but you’re telling me we just had to sign Tonny Sanabria or Petar Golubovic instead of giving another academy graduate a real chance at the top-flight level? You’re telling me that Seydou Doumbia was the right transfer for, well, just about any club, let alone the Giallorossi?
Still, I give the man credit for doing an excellent job while in Rome, and today I’m finding myself giving him credit yet again for helping the club “he gave a lung to” one more time. Why? Well folks, because Walter Sabatini has just taken Federico Fazio off of our hands and brought him to Salernitana.
It’s been a long road to this point for Federico Fazio. When he came to the club in 2016, not much was expected of the Argentine; yet his excellent performances in his first season with the club guaranteed that the Giallorossi would jump at the chance to sign him permanently. That signing was certainly not a mistake; however, there’s no doubt that Gianluca Petrachi’s decision to renew Fazio’s contract until 2022 was a massive one, as Fazio quickly fell down the depth chart while being paid too much for many other clubs to be interested in his services.
This season, it became apparent that the center-back was no longer in the club’s plans whatsoever, but that didn’t stop Fazio from suing the club for not playing him. I’ve honestly never heard of anything like that happening in football, but it certainly incentivized Tiago Pinto to find a new home for Captain Caveman, and fast. With this move, Fazio now teams up yet again with Walter Sabatini, the man who brought him to Roma in the first place and current Director of Sport for Salernitana. The Argentine will be signing a three-year contract with the relegation-battling Granata, with Sabatini saying earlier that Fazio had even committed to stay with his new club if they fell to Serie B. As much as it annoyed me to still have Fazio around this year, you have to respect that agreement.
Fazio departing will do a lot to help Roma’s future ability to sign additional players for José Mourinho, even if a third signing for the January mercato hinges on the departure of Amadou Diawara. You don’t need me to tell you about the different levels of cash flow that separate even The Friedkin Era Giallorossi from their rivals up north; even if you take away some of the questionable accounting that has made January transfers like Dušan Vlahović to Juventus and Robin Gosens to Inter financially feasible, the Milan clubs and Juve simply have more financial muscle than Roma at this point in time. If Roma wants to compete with them for Champions League slots and more, they can’t afford to have dead weight in their squad in the way a Juventus might.
For that reason, you can definitely argue that Tiago Pinto’s second-biggest assignment as General Manager so far has been to clear the dead weight from the squad. Players like Fazio, Diawara, Gonzalo Villar, and Davide Santon reportedly were useless for José Mourinho, but unlike players like Robin Olsen, they’ve also been quite recalcitrant about finding clubs that may actually use their services. Even though the mystical Star Defensive Midfielder Romanisti have been screaming for hasn’t been signed, the two signings Pinto has made combined with his continued work towards clearing dead weight has made this January mercato a success in my eyes. We’ll see if his continued ability to find moves for out-of-favor players will give The Friedkins more incentive to flash the cash in the summer, but at the very least, that work is showing results and helping this incarnation of the Giallorossi continue to develop.
As for Federico, In bocca a lupo, Commandante. Thanks for the memories, and thanks for finally moving forward in your career.