Led by Edin Dzeko’s Ballon d’Or inspiring performances and Aleksandar Kolarov’s resurgence, Roma’s success this season has had a decidedly sky blue tinge to it. You see, long before they were leading Roma to near-upsets at Stamford Bridge and gutting out one-nilers versus Torino, both Dzeko and Kolarov were two of the finest Citizens Manchester City has seen over the past decade.
However, as is so often the case with the oil clubs, when you show even the slightest sign of regression, your ass has got to go; history be damned, you’re now a sunken cost easily replaced by the next big thing out of Brazil or Argentina or Narnia, wherever, doesn’t matter.
And when you’re a club like Roma, who are decidedly not an oil club, and in fact probably use coupons to get the oil changed on the team bus, your bread is buttered with these types of players—EPL castoffs looking to restake their good name. Whether they’re gunning for a World Cup spot or simply trying prove they’ve still got it, Roma has struck it rich with these types of players over the past several years.
First there was Maicon, who made an ill-fated move to City after several stellar years with Inter Milan. While Big Doug was sort of a reverse candidate—he left for City looking to reclaim some fame only to find success fleeting—but he was the first in this wave of City recruits, both in rumor and fact, resurrecting their careers in Rome. He was never the Inter version of himself with Roma, but would Rudi Garcia’s bunch have achieved as much without his stellar form four years ago?
One above average, nearly turn back the clock season followed by two solid role playing years was a solid return for a free transfer, and Maicon’s move paved the way for some of his fellow Citizens. Following in his wake was Dzeko, who, though he stumbled mightily in his first season, has become among the best strikers in Europe, grabbing nearly 50 goals in all competitions over the past 14 months.
And with Kolarov arguably playing the best left back in the league, it looks as though Roma has turned the trick once more, taking a thirty-something City castoff and recycling him into a productive player once more. Which got me to thinking, could Roma continue this run in future transfer windows?
With that in mind, let’s take a look at a few of City’s clearance rack candidates. Keep in mind that not all these guys have been cast off in the same manner as Maicon, Dzeko or Kolarov. Every situation is different, being dictated by club finances, available replacements and, naturally, the player’s performance. Got it? Okay, here we go.
Candidate: Vincent Kompany, 31 years old
City Slide: Once a staple of City’s 21st century revival, Kompany isn’t exactly a spring chicken anymore and has seen his league minute totals fall each of the past three seasons due to a variety of leg and groin injuries, as well as the emergence of Nicolas Otamendi and John Stones. Nevertheless, Kompany can still build play from the back and has only one year remaining on his contract after this season, so he could be had relatively cheaply over the summer when he’ll be 32 years old.
Roma Resurrection Factor, 6/10: Bonus points because Radja Nainggolan might be able to persuade him, but wIth Federico Fazio and Kostas Manolas’ deals expiring the same year as Kompany (2019), you have to figure that at the very least Roma will need a veteran center back for depth. Of course a lot can change between now and the summer, but if the price is right—or better still, free—Kompany could provide Roma with a steady hand for a season or two.
Candidate: David Silva, 31 years old
City Slide: Well, none really. At 31-years-old, Silva is as essential and nearly as effective as he’s ever been with City. Through two months of play, Silva has logged over 1,000 minutes in all competitions while scoring one goal and chipping eight assists. His flowing locks may have been replaced by a cell block look, but Silva is still doing a bit of everything for his club and doing it well, but...
Roma Resurrection Factor, 4/10: He already has over 500 appearances for club and country, including several notable deep runs during even-yeared summers, so as his role with City slides, he might look for one final shot at glory somewhere else. And as we saw during the latter days of Francesco Totti’s career, having a man who can pick out that final pass, even if he only plays a handful of minutes per match, is invaluable. Odds are he moves back to La Liga, but Silva could still have some magic in his legs by the time his deal expires in 2019.
Candidate: Fernandinho, 32 years old
City Slide: Much like Silva, Fernandinho is still playing a large role for Pep Guardiola, starting 12 matches and logging over 1,000 minutes in all competitions so far, ranking in City’s top three in tackles and interceptions. Fernandinho has been a rock in the center of City’s midfield, serving as lynchpin in between Silva and Kevin De Bruyne.
Roma Resurrection Factor, 6/10: Not only will Fernandinho turn 33-years-old this spring, but his contract is set to expire on June 30th, making him a prime Bosman candidate. Now, City could very well offer him (or any one of these guys) a short term extension, or Fernandinho could, like many Brazilians, move back home, but one can never have too many midfielders, particularly defensive ones. Given his experience and versatility, Fernandinho could be a well sought after free agent. Roma could do a lot worse for midfield depth.
Odds are each of these players will have multiple suitors and/or siren songs from their native lands, so it’s not as easy as all this, but whether they come from City or not, Roma has always filled in the fringes of their squad with players like these; veteran spare parts looking to be made whole again.
Could be Kompany, could be Silva or someone else entirely, but you can bet your bottom dollar, Roma will bring in an experienced midfielder and/or defender in the coming months.