As all the Giallorossi fans most certainly know, Roma have finished their 2014/15 season following yesterday's loss to Palermo. Deep Breath. What a relief, right? This season felt a bit like final exams. It was way too long. It was psychologically and emotionally draining. And while you eventually got through it okay, it certainly wasn't pretty.
Second place in a particularly weak Serie A, a last second "group of death" Champion's League exit, a quarter-final Coppa exit, and totally uninspired football throughout. You get a solid "B", Rudi and friends. Disappointing, but you definitely pass.
So now it's Saba's job to try and get us into B+/A- territory. So what's the plan? This is what I think we can expect from our Summer squad overhaul.
Current Depth Chart: Morgan De Sanctis, Lukasz Skorupski, Bogdan Lobont
We've got a 38 year-old who has never been known as a world beater (Napoli felt Pepe Reina was an improvement, after-all) and a 24 year-old Polak I never even heard of before we purchased him. The two cost us about 1.5 million euros collectively. This position has arguably our most stable and dependable of them all. Say what?
It's true, despite his age Morgan has been tremendous for Roma. I had not followed Morgan before he arrived at Roma, but I wouldn't be surprised if the last two years has been the single best stretch of his career. He followed up his excellent 2013/14 season with 16 clean sheets, the second most in Serie A, and we know that wasn't because of our defense. He's my pick for our player of the year, and he's good to go for another year. Morgan wasn't originally the keeper we wanted, but he's become the keeper we needed.
But he is 38 years old. Imagine what this year would have been like if Morgan got injured, as 38 year-olds do, and Skorupski had to play 10+ games in Serie A. Ughhhhh.
We need to avoid that scenario, and we will! We have been linked to several names, most often Samir Handanovic. But, I don't think it will end up being Hando. Why? Inter are planning on being better next year and they are not going to want to sell a very solid keeper to a direct rival, at least not at a reasonable price. We've also been linked to younger keepers Matthew Ryan and Marco Sportiello. They would be cheaper in price and wages than Handanovic, and arguably have higher ceilings. Finally, why pay so much for Hando when we already have a keeper who performs nearly as well in Morgan? We should take a risk with a younger keeper with a high ceiling as long as we have Morgan to back him up. Matthew Ryan gets the nod because he is apparently great with his feet and we desperately need a keeper who can distribute the ball (Morgan's one major weakness).
In: Matthew Ryan
Out: Lukasz Skorupski
2. Center Backs
Current Depth Chart: Leandro Castan, Kostas Manolas, Davide Astori, Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa, Alessio Romagnoli
Assuming Castan comes back hunky dory, we have a need for another starting center back as none of Manolas, Astori or Yanga have distinguished themselves enough to start. Since Yanga is already purchased and is now a Roma legend, he stays and Astori goes. Romagnoli also goes out on loan as he is not quite ready for starting minutes but would be a total waste on the bench. We need someone with wheels and ball skills to fill the Benatia-sized hole in our defense. Vertonghen or Fabian Schar are noted ball-playing cb's we've been linked with. Fabian Schar's contract expires soon and would take less wages.
In: Fabian Schar
Out: Davide Astori, Alessio Romagnoli (loan)
Current Depth Chart: Maicon, Ashley Cole, Vasilis Torosidis, Jose Holebas, Federico Balzaretti
Maicon is probably not coming back next year, given the rumors we will terminate his contract. Ashley Cole is not fit to be a professional fullback anymore. Waiter, two starting fullbacks!!! We have been heavily linked with landing Glen Johnson on a bosman. Sigh. It's going to happen though. Sexier names like Matteo Darmian and Bruno Peres have been mentioned but we all know Saba will look to save some cash in defense to spend big up front. We've been linked with Adriano and Jetro Williams at left back. It sounds like Jetro Williams had a great year, so we'll probably get Adriano, which is fine.
In: Glen Johnson, Adriano Correia
Out: Maicon, Ashley Cole
4. Defensive Midfielders
Current Depth Chart: Daniele De Rossi, Seydou Keita
Daniele is not going anywhere after what we saw against Lazio, and everyone should be happy about that. Rudi says he wants Keita for another year and Saba will be more than happy to oblige.
5. Central Midfielders
Current Depth Chart: Miralem Pjanic, Kevin Strootman, Radja Nainggolan, Salih Ucan, Leandro Paredes
Here's where Saba plans to make some money to fund other purchases. Pjanic or Radja is gone next year, that much seems clear. The Radja negotiations have stalled but Saba will pick him over Mira because he had a better year while Mira still has a lot of pull in the market (10 assists this year btw). Pjanic is gone to Liverpool or Barca next year, as sad as that makes me. Cabaye or Bertolacci will come in as a cheaper replacement and Ucan will stick around for depth while Leandro goes out on loan.
In: Yohan Cabaye
Out: Miralem Pjanic, Leandro Paredes (loan)
Current Depth Chart: Gervinho, Juan Iturbe, Alessandro Florenzi, Victor Ibarbo, Adem Ljajic
We all know Gervinho, and Florenzi aren't going anywhere. Iturbe could still rebound and makes no sense to sell at this point, so he stays too. Rumors about Ibarbo's option being picked up make no sense with Ayew likely coming in on a Bosman. Ljajic is the odd man out here and will make some money on the market with his solid goal record.
In: Andre Ayew
Out: Victor Ibarbo, Adem Ljajic
Current Depth Chart: Francesco Totti, Seydou Doumbia, Mattia Destro
Doumbia has been terrible so far, but I don't think he's been totally fit. He might stay but we've still been heavily linked with high profile central forwards like Dzeko, and when fans are unhappy and the offense sucks DOF's tend to buy expensive forwards. Doumbia and Destro will leave and we'll end up with our old crush Luiz Adriano.
(Editors note: Some portions were lost during formatting. Bear with us)
So there you have it, my prediction of your 2015/16 Roma mercato.
Starting 11: (Ryan, Adriano, Castan, Schar, Johnson)
Bench 11: (De Sanctis, Holebas, Yanga-Mbiwa, Manolas, Torosidis)
Now all there is to do is sit back, ignore the transfer rumors and watch as I am vindicated.