Let me just start by dropping the names of some of Roma's backup strikers the last few years: Felix Afena-Gyan, Eldor Shomurodov, Borja Mayoral, Nikola Kalinic, Patrik Schick, Gregoire Defrel, Umar Sadiq, Victor Ibarbo, Seydou Doumbia, Nico Lopez, Fabio Borini, Bojan, Stefano Okaka, Julian Baptista, Corvia, Carew, Tavano, I can go on forever, but it would only become more painful to read.
I’ve been following Roma for 20 years or so, but I have rarely witnessed this kind of transfer Yes, Dybala is frikkin’ awesome. Matic for free was totally a steal. Wijnaldum is a perfect fit for Mourinho. But these guys are supposedly starters under José, not bench material. By adding Andrea Belotti to the striker mix, Roma suddenly has massive wealth up front. A fresh out-and-out striker waiting to be unleashed after the 60th minute or so.
Just think, this is a guy who scored 100+ goals in Serie A (including five seasons with 10+ and a really outstanding one with 26 goals), and he will probably sit on the bench to replace a tired Abraham or will rotate with the Englishman after heavy games or European midweek matches. He’s not our number one starter like Abraham last season or Dzeko a couple of years ago. Again, this is a depth move to improve and strengthen the bench and overall quality.
Belotti, a proven name in Italy and a member of the Azzurri. For FREE. What. A. Luxury. Almost unimaginable at the club. If you compare him with the names I mentioned earlier, then you know we’ve come a long way. Hell, I think Andrea scored more goals than all of those guys combined!
The Dybala-Zaniolo-Abraham-Belotti combo reminds me of the 2001 days (Batistuta, Totti, Montella, Delvecchio) where Roma always had a powerful striker ready to come on without losing too much quality in its front three. And now it seems we also get a revitalized El Shaarawy as a bonus.
Last season our second top scorer in Serie A after Abraham was Lorenzo Pellegrini, a midfielder, with nine goals. That says something. The third was another mid, Henrikh Mkhitaryan (five goals). Mourinho sorely needed another striker next to Abraham, one who would come off the bench and know the drill immediately, one that could score 10-15 goals against the minnows, one who could break down stubborn defense. Or one who could even let Mourinho play with two strikers.
Ok, I must admit I’ve always been a Belotti fan ever since his Palermo days. But honestly, I can’t imagine a fan who doesn’t like this move. Not only was he wanted by Mourinho, but Belotti was also so eager to join the Giallorossi that he refused all other bids. He also gets to reunite with Dybala and links up with Azzurri comrades like Cristante, Pellegrini, Mancini, and Spinazzola. He also has an awesome nickname and goal celebration (I’ve been missing that since Vucinic). And all of that comes with a lower wage bill than Amadou Diawara used to make—What’s not to be loved?
So yeah, if you’d ask me what was Pinto’s best move this summer, I’d say Andrea Belotti and not Dybala. Just because everything seems so perfect. The timing, the cost, the importance of his role on the team, and his impact on the quality of Roma's bench. Belotti is like finally finding the last piece of the puzzle that's been missing for three months. It's a really good feeling.
Now Roma is ready to go to war and fight for the top-four (or maybe more). With a seasoned professional like Mourinho at the helm and players who are willing to work and sweat for the team, my faith is once again restored. A return to the Champions League is now a must. We can’t fail, with Andrea, we have found our perfect hitman for the job.
And if Belotti can indeed bring back those 2001 days. Well, we all know what happened that year, don’t we?