In his introductory press conference after being named manager of Inter Milan, Luciano Spalletti claimed the Nerazzurri are “the best that can be aspired to”, and if that weren’t enough of a shot across the Roma bow, Spalletti, as it turns out, had one more parting gift to give to the Roma faithful, an additional €1 million payout to Gerson’s former club, Fluminense.
We’re kidding of course, but thanks to Roma’s second place finish, a clause in Gerson’s transfer deal was triggered, wherein Roma had throw an additional million towards the Brazilian club, bringing its total cost to €17 million. While Roma was, correctly or not, reticent to throw that sort of money at Wojciech Szczesny, they had no issue ponying up for the talented young Brazilian some 18 months ago, fending off Barcelona in the process.
And, well, you don’t need me to remind you how poorly this deal has gone since. Through virtually no fault of his own, Gerson’s first year in European football has been a complete waste, as he totalled only 400 minutes in all competitions, registering one assist in Europa League play—a year of his still nascent development gone completely to waste.
But we’re not here to split hairs over who was truly at fault, we’re here to talk about the future, because make no mistake, this kid is as promising as he ever was. And sure, you can make the argument that had he shown more in training, he would have garnered more first team appearances, but he was only 19-years-old this season, new to the league, new to life in Europe and, let’s face it, new to being an adult. We so often simply assume these kids are mindless footballing automatons, to whom the matters of everyday life don’t matter, that they’re somehow impermeable to stress and anxiety brought on by monumental change.
Gerson is still the kid much of the footballing world was drooling over in 2016—a newer and slightly skinnier Paul Pogba—and if Eusebio Di Francesco’s track record with youth holds firm, we may yet see Gerson fulfill his potential, in which case that extra million that Spalletti’s competence cost us may be a drop in the bucket.