If I had told you in 2019 that the Giallorossi in 2023 would be managed by José Mourinho and have a starting eleven featuring Paulo Dybala, Renato Sanches, and Romelu Lukaku, would you have believed me? I doubt it, but according to Filippo Biafora of Il Tempo, that is Roma’s new reality.
Quello che una settimana fa era un sogno ora è diventato realtà in casa #ASRoma: #Lukaku è il nuovo centravanti giallorosso. Arriva in prestito dal #Chelsea per circa 6 mln, l'aereo dei #Friedkin è pronto a portarlo domani in Italia (ore 19.15 a Ciampino, da Bruxelles)@tempoweb pic.twitter.com/mnb7JUWYMd— Filippo Biafora (@Fil_Biafora) August 28, 2023
For those of you who can’t read Italian, Biafora is reporting that after days of negotiations in London, wantaway Chelsea striker Romelu Lukaku is joining Roma on loan for €6 million. The Friedkin’s private jet, which only days ago became the most-tracked jet in the world as Ryan Friedkin and Tiago Pinto headed to London to negotiate with The Blues, will undoubtedly become the most-tracked jet in the world yet again tomorrow, as Big Rom will be arriving at Ciampino airport at 7:15 PM local time.
Even though Lukaku’s star has undoubtedly fallen over the past few seasons, make no mistake: this is a massive move for the Giallorossi. Pairing Lukaku with players like Paulo Dybala and Lorenzo Pellegrini will hopefully result in some beautiful football. It will also take pressure off of other attackers like Andrea Belotti, Sardar Azmoun, and Stephan El Shaarawy.
To make this kind of move happen given Roma’s financial restraints under Financial Fair Play is another type of coup: it shows how José Mourinho’s star power and Tiago Pinto’s negotiating skills are putting the Giallorossi in the best possible situation given their need to aggressively balance the books. These kinds of moves won’t win you games outright, but they do set the club up for success in an aggressive manner.
Of course, it’s critical to note that throughout the negotiating process of this deal, it was never reported that there would be a purchase option for the Giallorossi to keep Lukaku on a long-term contract. That’s likely intentional; even on his reported reduced wages, Lukaku is not the kind of permanent signing that an FFP-strapped Roma can make without guaranteed Champions League money. Biafora notes this himself, saying that the objective for next season is set in stone: Champions League or Bust.
Given that, the logic behind the signing is obvious. Bring in Lukaku, get José Mourinho and Paulo Dybala the star striker they need to lead this club into the Champions League, and cross the bridge of “Do we try to keep Lukaku” once you know for sure that Champions League football is coming.
A long-term commitment to Lukaku could come alongside long-term commitments from Mourinho and Dybala — a reward for bringing the Giallorossi back to the promised land. Even if the Giallorossi do reach the Champions League next season, though, it’s not guaranteed that Lukaku will be a long-term servant of the club. Perhaps he’s truly just a one-season wonder in Rome, but if it gets the Giallorossi to the Champions League, it’ll be worth it.
We’ll have plenty of time to analyze Big Rom’s move to Roma, and we’ll be sure to discuss it in-depth on this week’s Across the Romaverse. For now, welcome to Roma, Romelu! And enjoy the raucous reception you’ll certainly receive at Ciampino.