If there’s one thing Roma fans love more than young, intriguing prospects, its young, intriguing prospects born and raised within the confines of the Eternal City. From a rosy cheeked Francesco Totti to the buzz-cutted Daniele De Rossi to Alessandro Florenzi’s adorable spit-curl, Roma fans have been spoiled for local heroes. With Lorenzo Pellegrini aiming to be the next great Roma icon, it may seem like we’re filled to the brim with local stock. Not so fast.
While Matteo Politano may not have been held in as high esteem as his former teammate Pellegrini, he has quietly made a name for himself since moving to Sassuolo in the summer of 2015. Over the past two-and-a-half seasons, Politano has provided 15 goals and 10 assists in all competitions for the Neroverdi, emerging as the dynamic inverted right winger that Eusebio Di Francesco’s system so desperately craves.
Cengiz Under, meanwhile, has emerged as little more than summer social media sensation and late match substitute for EDF, garnering little more than 300 minutes this season, never logging more than 75 minutes in one stretch. For a 20-year-old kid making the switch from a “smaller” league, that’s not an ideal developmental scenario. Much like Gerson before him, this isn’t an indictment on Under’s talent or potential; he’s simply caught in an awkward position wherein the club, given its stockpile of talent and spot on the table, can’t offer many meaningful minutes.
However, unlike Gerson in seasons past, we haven’t been privy to a litany of loan rumors about Under’s immediate future; there were siren songs from abroad or speculative calls from smaller Serie A sides. So we should take this Politano-for-Under loan swap with a grain of salt.
For Roma it makes a hell of a lot of since—Under would get playing time with a competitive side within the same league—but what’s in this for Sassuolo? Unless I’m missing something, Politano has been an integral part of their success this season, leading the club in both goals and assists, nor does there seem to be a younger prospect pushing him for playing time; hell, Politano is only 24-years-old himself. Furthermore, he’s under contract through 2022, so it wouldn’t seem like a situation where he’s pushing for a new deal, and if they wanted to boost his market value, why send him to Roma where he wouldn’t necessarily be option number one?
Don’t get me wrong, he’d be a great addition to the squad and would seemingly solve Roma’s right wing riddle in the short term, while Under would seemingly slide right into his spot with Sassuolo, but I’m not seeing much consideration on the other side of the deal—what does Sassuolo have to gain from relinquishing Politano for six months?