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Roma's Winter Transfer Preview

Who’s on Monchi’s Christmas shopping list?

Spal v AS Roma - Serie A Photo by Mario Carlini / Iguana Press/Getty Images

Roma are currently 5 points off fourth place and the performance tables make for grim reading as far as top 4 predictions go. Of the teams above Roma, only Torino and Inter are overperforming in terms of expected goals for and against.

Inter’s stats suggest Spalletti’s men are heavily dependent on both Icardi and Handanovic to keep them propped at third in the table, while AC Milan should comfortably stay within their current form and Lazio are actually under-performing.

That leaves Roma with narrow hopes of reaching 4th on current form. Monchi will only have between January 3rd and January 18th to work some magic in tilting odds back towards Roma’s favour.

Who can he bring in within the new 2-week winter transfer window?

I. Deep-Lying Midfielder

Why will Roma sign a defensive midfielder in January?

“There’s no regista in my Roma right now,” EDF said a few weeks ago. “The only one capable of playing that role is De Rossi...”

With those words, EDF let it be known that midfield is likely Roma’s most pressing priority this winter. EDF will either be looking for another mediano to take the load of Nzonzi, DDR and Cristante or a straightforward regista to provide an alternative to De Rossi in EDF’s preferred 4-3-3 formation; it’s the very same formation that could be the long-term future for Lorenzo Pellegrini and Nicolò Zaniolo playing together.

  • Sandro Tonali is the only out-and-out high-profile regista target linked with Roma and every other leading Serie A club. This is a bidding war Roma are unlikely to win, even if CalcioMercato.It (via FI) reported that Roma were leading the race with Juventus to sign Tonali back in October. Most Italian football fans reckon Tonali being an AC Milan fan gives the Rossoneri the inside scoop on giving him the Milan #21 jersey for the future.
  • Donny Van der Beek’s agent is Mino Raoila, naturally landing him on Monchi’s radar. At 21 years old, Van der Beek can still be moulded but his reputation is more of a “balancer” which would be another signing in the mould of Kevin Strootman or Steven Nzonzi.
  • Adrien Rabiot’s star has fallen on the European scene at PSG. The 23 year-old Frenchman is pure quality on the ball with Champions League experience to boot, but comes with attitude problems. Rabiot has lost his place in Tuchel’s PSG starting lineup this season and, with his contract expiring next summer, Roma may just take the gamble to get Rabiot’s head right in... err, an Italian capital city known for getting a player’s head right? Well, it worked for Santon.
  • Hector Herrera’s contract at Porto is running down and Herrera has rejected several chances to extend his stay in Porto so far. and the more attack-minded midfielder has both the Champions League’ experience and leadership to benefit Roma’s squad.

Why won’t Roma sign a defensive midfielder in January?

Maxime Gonalons is a dry-loan set to return to Roma next summer at this rate, and wouldn’t look out of place in EDF’s new-look midfield while saving Roma a bunch of money.

Meanwhile, Ante Coric was being converted to a deep-lying role for playing time with the senior squad before his injury. It may not be too late for him to avoid going out on loan in January.

II. Central Defender

Why will Roma sign a central defender in January?

Outside of Federico Fazio, Roma need a central defender that’s confident on the ball. Pure and simple. This has been missing since the days of Mehdi Benatia.

There are too many backpasses to Robin Olsen, and Roma’s wingers are pulling back behind the half-way line to support the over-reliance on the full backs to pass the ball out the back.

  • Matija Nastasic is the ideal central defensive signing on paper. Left-footed, he can be paired with either Manolas or Fazio on their favoured right-foot. Nastasic is comfortable on the ball and comes with Serie A experience from his Fiorentina days. It’s hard to believe Nastasic is still only 25 years old. On the flipside, his signing would only add to Monchi critics who’ve had enough of gambles on injury-prone players. The Serb is said to be Monchi’s primary target for defence.
  • Daniele Rugani is never far behind Nastasic is being linked with Roma, as in the article linked just above. He may be right-footed but he’s used to playing on the left, and familiar with a high-line defence from his Sarri days at Empoli. But Juventus aren’t forced to change their squad plans in January, and it’s likely to be Sarri himself jacking up the price for Rugani with Chelsea’s interest.
  • Andreas Christensen has been linked with an unlikely player-swap-plus-cash deal that would see Chelsea sign Cengiz Ünder the other way from Roma. For Roma to part ways with the only left-footed right-side forward in the squad - Ünder - in January would be forcing EDF to resign on the spot. Unlikely.
  • Ozan Kabak is the most palatable deal of all linked defenders. We covered his highlights package a few weeks ago on CdT, and the young Turk’s inexperience at senior level is offset by the fact he has a 7.5 million euro release clause - Roma and Inter continue to be linked with the physically dominant 18 year-old as the next cut-price signing.

Why won’t Roma sign a central defender in January?

Eusebio Di Francesco can’t forget he still has Ivan Marcano at the club. Unlike Hector Moreno before him, Ivan Marcano is actually a good fit for EDF’s tactics. We reported way back last season that Marcano used to average 4.8 long balls per game at Porto before signing for Roma, and the tall Spaniard really was a tailor-made EDF signing in all but Italian football experience.

III. Right Wide Forward

Why will Roma sign a right winger in January?

EDF has been asking Monchi for a left-footed right-side forward for over a year. Right now there’s only Cengiz.

  • David Neres made it known - just a week ago - he turned down an official offer from Roma last summer. Neres didn’t think the time was right to leave Ajax back then but, just six months later, can another key piece of Ajax’s wonder-generation be convinced to sign now?
  • Dennis Man has been linked with Roma for some time now. Supposedly already turning down 13 million euro bids for the Romanian talent, FCSB’s chairman is openly courting a bidding war between Roma, Manchester United and Fenerbahce among other clubs.
  • Domenico Berardi will forever be linked with Roma as long EDF remains coach in the Italian capital. Since the opening 2 Serie A rounds of this season, Berardi has failed to score in 11 straight matches. Berardi is a ready-made fit for EDF’s tactics but Roma would only be doing both Sassuolo and the Italian international a favour by ending his Emilia-Romagna nightmare.

Why won’t Roma sign a right winger in January?

Because Cengiz Ünder is next in line as Roma’s most likely blockbuster sale. A move for Ünder’s replacement in January would only bring down Ünder’s potential fee in the summer.

Knowing how Monchi handled the Alisson deal, it’s unlike Roma’s sporting director to give away his hand on this one by signing a potential Ünder replacement six months early.

What position do you think Roma should reinforce this January? And who would you like to see signed in that position?