As Roma fans we've witnessed our fair share of loan spells gone bad, both in terms of the club taking a risk on imported goods and sending out their youth to less than ideal developmental locales. But every so often, Roma gets one just right. We all remember how fruitful Tin Jedvaj's loan spell with Bayer Leverkusen was or how much growth Alessio Romagnoli showed with Sampdoria last season, and yes, neither one ultimately worked out in Roma's favor, aside from the financial aspect, but they managed to find the perfect combination of timing, club and manager that enabled these young players to sprout wings and begin to fly.
While we may still be gnashing our collective teeth over the Jedvaj loan, because let's face it, Romagnoli burned that bridge in epic fashion once he left, this summer we'll face yet another do or die scenario with one of our prized prospects, Leandro Paredes.
Paredes made a few spot appearances for Rudi Garcia last season, totalling roughly 300 minutes for the Giallorossi, including one goal, but this much was clear: with a midfield laden with talent, there would be no room for Paredes in 2015-2016, leading to his loan spell with Empoli, which has been, in case you weren't aware, magnificent.
While Paredes counting statistics (two goals, one assist) won't bowl anyone over, it's the poise and grace with which he's occupied his deep lying playmaker role, showing exceptional technique, vision and composure for a 21-year-old midfielder. This has, naturally, drawn the eyes of some of Europe's larger clubs, each of whom are poised to pounce on what may be the game's next great playmaker.
Specifically, we're talking about two sets of eyes, Jurgen Klopp and Pep Guardiola, the current and future managers of Liverpool and Manchester City, respectively. While it may take a mega offer to pry Paredes from Roma's fingers--think thirty to forty million--his future is inexorably intertwined with that of Miralem Pjanic, the man whom he may replace.
As we recently discussed, Pjanic is at the top of his game and has long been an object of affection for many well moneyed clubs. Due to this ascension, Roma has deemed him worth no less than €45 million, and let's not forget, he's only 25-years-old, so it's not as if Roma will be deciding between a future stud and a past his prime hero. Roma is facing a proverbial Sophie's Choice.
Do they cash in on Pjanic, who could bring significantly more on the market, and roll the dice on Paredes who, though he looks great now, hasn't really proved himself to the extent Pjanic has, or do they hang onto Miralem, who may very well be at his peak, and risk the potentially limitless potential of Paredes?
Keep in mind that neither player is, in the direct sense, a Spalletti player, so either choice has enormous ramifications for the immediate future of the club--is Spalletti satisfied with what Pjanic brings, or is he enamored with Paredes potential, or does he have someone else entirely different in mind?
If they keep the status quo and send Paredes out on loan, they risk a regression in his play but if he continues to blossom, this decision becomes exponentially tougher the following summer. However, if the club fails to qualify for the Champions League next season, they may have no choice but to cut off their nose to spite their face.
This is a potential €30 to €40 million decision, and with Walter Sabatini's future in question, we're not even sure who's making it...Roma, god bless 'em.