It might not be time to hit the panic button just yet, but it's getting awfully close. The Serie A schedule for 2015-16 was released yesterday, and Roma will host Juventus in Round 2 on August 29. This means that in one month, Roma will play a game that could dictate its whole season, and it still doesn't have a preferred striker. Granted it's just one game, but starting the season off with a loss against a Juventus team sans Tevez, Vidal, and Pirlo (although Juve has rebuilt somewhat this transfer window) could be demoralizing for this Roma team. The effect might be as devastating as last year's 7-1 debacle against Bayern Munich in the Champions League. With that being said, here are a few suggestions Walter Sabatini could use to potentially remedy the striker conundrum in time for the start of the season:
Option 1: Some people may argue that Roma's striker problem is completely imagined, and to some extent that's true. If Roma was to keep Seydou Doumbia and Mattia Destro as its strikers, they would be more than serviceable. Doumbia only arrived halfway through the season last year in the January transfer window, and in the 5 appearances he managed at striker after that, he scored 2 goals and had an average game rating of 6.83. He also had a pretty good scoring record at CSKA Moscow. Mattia Destro spent the first half of last year at Roma and then finished the season at AC Milan on loan, but Destro still scored 6 goals in 17 appearances at striker and had an average game rating of 6.63. If anything Roma could keep and play Doumbia and Destro, which would raise their respective values, so that the club can at least attempt to break even on the duo in the next transfer window, instead of selling them for a loss right now.
Option 2 (The Nuclear Option): He could be the hero that Roma fans don't want, but desperately need. Or he could be the match that lights the tinderbox, and turns Roma's season into a complete dumpster fire. Mario Balotelli has a decent scoring record in Serie A with both Milan clubs, and he could be available on the cheap. Like very cheap. Liverpool is pretending Balotelli doesn't exist currently. He's a crazy guy, but he could be Roma's crazy guy (a la Ron Artest and the Lakers). Plus, it would make a poignant story if Balotelli's career was resurrected in the Italian capital. On the other hand, he could be, and probably would be, a locker room cancer.
Option 3: Roma could renege on its deal with Chelsea for winger Mohamed Salah (no shame in reneging on a bad deal, especially if it's a deal with the devil) and use the 23 million euros intended for Salah on a striker. This move could allow Roma to splurge on a striker. The club could target young, sought after strikers such as Lyon's Alexandre Lacazette or Everton's Romelu Lukaku. Signing a striker of that caliber would be a win for Roma now, as well as in the future.
Option 4: Dare to Zlatan. Roma would have to move mountains in order to make it feasible given Ibrahimovic's ridiculous wages, but it might be worth it. Ultimately Roma would be taking a calculated risk in signing Ibrahimovic; He's a great striker and he seems to win wherever he goes, however he's not the best teammate and his wages would practically bankrupt the club. On the other hand, Roma would surely recoup the cost of his salary through jersey sales and other revenue if the team was to win the scudetto with the help of Ibrahimovic.
Option 5 (The Other Nuclear Option): It's not really a backup plan, but Roma could also just decide to meet Manchester City's outrageous asking price for striker Edin Dzeko, ending this transfer saga once and for all. This move would probably be the least palatable, seeing as Roma's current offer of 20 million euros for Dzeko is absurd as is, but at least it would end all the speculation and give Roma its number one target at striker.
Whatever Walter Sabatini chooses to do, he needs to do it quickly. As meaningless as preseason friendly's are, they still prepare the players for the upcoming season physically, as well as allow the players to build chemistry before the season starts. Roma cannot afford to have a slow start to its Serie A campaign due to a lack of chemistry with its striker, especially with three points up for grabs against incumbent champions Juventus early on.