It's not often that a perfect transfer target comes along for Roma, and it’s an even rarer thing when the club is able to actually land that tailor-made target. We saw it in the winter of 2010 when Roma, 11 points behind league-leading Inter Milan and in danger of dropping out of the top four altogether, landed Luca Toni on loan from Bayern Munich. And while it didn't ultimately help the Giallorossi topple José Mourinho and Inter, it certainly wasn't Toni's fault, as he bagged five goals in 15 appearances.
We saw the same fortuitous confluence of fit, timing, and need in the winter of 2014 when Rudi Garcia's Roma, reeling from the recent loss of Kevin Strootman, landed a near-perfect replacement in the form of Radja Nainggolan, who arrived from Cagliari on a €17 million move that winter. Nainggolan's time in the capital didn't yield any titles either, but he remains one of the most beloved characters in recent club history—and a damn fine player at that.
So when Roma, a club perpetually starved for quality full-backs, signed Bruno Peres from Torino in the summer of 2016 for €13 million—a sum that felt like a bargain at the time—it seemed like the Giallorossi had done it again, mastering the blend of cost, timing and opportunity to land arguably the most dangerous full-back in Serie A.
Fresh off a season in which he scored three goals and added four assists while averaging more than three successful dribbles per match, Peres had his pick of clubs. So when Roma managed to land the 27-year-old right-back, the proverbial final piece of the puzzle, it was hard not to get excited.
But, if you're reading this, you likely know how his time in the Eternal City turned out. Plagued by a string of minor injuries and never quite able to adapt to life under Eusebio Di Francesco, or any Roma manager that followed, Peres’ time with Roma was forgettable, to put it mildly.
While he had a nice swansong after returning to the club in early 2020, Peres left the club in the summer of 2021, joining Turkish club Trabzonspor. And fresh off a Süper Lig title, Peres took time to reflect on his time in Serie A, both with Torino and Roma.
Dallo scudetto con il #Trabzonspor al suo passato in Italia. Bruno #Peres ricorda gli anni a #Torino e #Roma. La nostra intervista https://t.co/8V1YARV4KI— Gianluca Di Marzio (@DiMarzio) May 3, 2022
Speaking to Italian transfer expert Gianluca Di Marzio, Peres admitted he came up short during his days with the Giallorossi: (Please forgive the awkward Google translation)
I worked with Di Francesco, another very hard and prepared coach...With him, in 2018, he had become a protagonist in the Champions League: I made a sensational save on the line against Shakhtar...Without my intervention, we would not have been able to go through in the second leg. That year was very positive for Roma and that episode allowed me to get closer to the fans
If I have one regret, it is that in those two years in the capital I could have done much more. Rome is a difficult square and I felt I had arrived. I could have done a lot more, but if I hadn’t made those mistakes, now I wouldn’t be the person I have become: you are wrong, you learn, you grow
Just as we've seen with Antonio Cassano throughout the years, it’s nice to see a bit of introspection from Peres, but it does little to quiet the chorus of what-ifs banging around our brains. But, given some of the off-the-pitch issues Peres went through during his time with Roma, it's nice to see that he's seemingly recovered his joy for the game—and he had plenty of nice things to say about his return in 2020 and his time playing for Paulo Fonseca in the full interview.
Roma's right-back spot is safe in Rick Karsdorp's (probably) tattooed hands, but it's hard not to wonder what the club may have achieved if Peres played up to his potential with the Giallorossi.