To call Mattia Destro's winter loan to AC Milan controversial would be an understatement. Mr. Right was a fan favorite for a reason; at only 23-years-old, Destro had already scored 29 goals for Roma across parts of three seasons, and was coming off a particularly prolific 2014, one in which he scored 13 goals on only 35 shots. Destro's career and Roma lore was on the rise, until it wasn't.
Somehow, someway, something went amiss over the summer of 2014. Destro was no longer the focal point of the attack, he was an afterthought. So despite our protestations otherwise, his transfer was a foregone conclusion; it was only a matter of where and for how much. While visions of €25-€30m valuations danced through our heads, we ultimate had to swallow the bitter pill of a six-month, €700,000 loan, with a paltry €16m option to buy; Roma would make a profit, but just barely.
While the Destrophiles among us gnashed our teeth at the thought of Milan rising to prominence on the back of Destro's nimble movements and sensual corner flag grinding, the ensuing two months have only muddied the waters for all parties involved. Through seven appearances, Destro has two goals and has performed admirably in the underlying metrics, but has only played more than 60 minutes on three occasions, perhaps suggesting that a permanent role under Filippo Inzaghi is as impossible as it was under Rudi Garcia.
This intermittent frustration has led some in the media to suggest that Milan will actually forgo their option to buy Destro outright at the end of the season, at least at the currently negotiated price, which is certainly understandable from their point of view. There are, however, a few problems with this line of reasoning.
First and foremost, Milan's uncertain ownership situation will surely impact how much the club can spend, particularly as it seems unlikely they'll have that settled by June. Similarly, with Inzaghi's future also uncertain, Destro and his agent(s) should be wary of resigning with Milan without assurances of steady playing time.
Lastly, from the Roman perspective, things only get worse. Let's assume Milan wants to keep Destro but play hardball on the originally agreed to €16m option, preferring to pay, let's say, €13m. This would put Roma squarely in the red on the Destro deal, when we factor in the €11.5m they paid to loan Destro from Genoa initially, plus the additional €4.5m they paid to make that move permanent. This would make what was always a questionable move even worse; parting with young talent is one thing, but to do so at an actual loss is inexcusable.
Now, let's say Roma welcomes Destro back with open arms, what then? Putting the awkwardness aside for a moment, between Destro and Seydou Doumbia, Roma would now have two shockingly similar strikers valued at approximately €30m competing for playing time, and to borrow a phrase American football, if you have two quarterbacks, you no quarterbacks.
Simply put, pushing Destro out the door without assurances of at least recouping your initial investment, then taking on a player cut from a similar (albeit less effective, in my opinion) cloth on a permanent basis is poor long-term planning of the highest order.
For my two cents, I'd welcome Destro back with open arms and push Doumbia out the door at a loss. What say you?