By now there are widespread reports, including from Premium Sport, that Javier Pastore’s Roma arrival is imminent with an 18 million euro deal agreed. The player is reported to have his medical scheduled at Trigoria this Thursday and the contract is reported to be a 4-year deal at 4 million euros after tax, per season.
Where do we fit Roma’s decision to pursue Javier Pastore into the Roma summer lego puzzle? First I’d say congratulations to flesmis, who’s campaigned for Roma to sign El Flaco on a weekly basis for years without missing a beat. Beyond that, I’m starting to feel like it’s time for me to abandon any assumptions I’ve been living under about Roma as a club.
I’d assumed Monchi would be the guy to go for a quantitive approach to his job while passing over the Maggica element within calcio. I mean why wouldn’t you? Sporting director, as a line of work, is the envy of both statisticians and window shoppers around the world. When you’re given license to be a great spender of other people’s money, the temptation to justify the glamour of your job with numbers, logic and method must be never-ending.
Despite that, regularly Monchi appeals to the human side of his job and his club. The side that actually gets football fans out of bed and into the stands every weekend. It’s the side of Monchi that signed Patrick Schick. And this summer that’ll be the same face of Monchi that signs Javier Pastore.
I’m sure someone will dig up numbers to justify why Pastore is a rational signing, but it doesn’t feel that way to me. It feels like a fantasy. He is a multiple title winner (albeit in a monopoly league) and has played alongside genuinely world class players for the last 7 years. Bringing back Pastore to the peninsula raises the reference point for what it really means to be a world-class creator and playmaker in calcio.
Cesar Menotti once claimed he walked away from football when he realised it no longer had the power to lie to him. It’s the closest I’ve read to anyone describing what it feels like to watch Roma’s play in the last third of the pitch since Francesco Totti’s retirement. Gone was the Maggica, entirely replaced by athleticism.
Sure, the Roma midfield and forward line definitely pushed the limits of what is possible this past season, at times. The ‘Romantada’ will live on in the memory forever. But Roma’s play rarely (if ever) ventured into the limits of what is made possible; what you cannot see coming until it just happened. For the fantasy made real, look no further than players like El Flaco. A player who’s slight frame made no sense in modern football, until you saw him play in a Palermo shirt and he made it make sense.
Is Pastore that same player today? Probably not. He has more experience, more trophies and not to mention more weight on his side. But his play on the field still firmly ties to beliefs of Menotti, within the Argentinian football school of thought. The side that believes football should be an idea and a fantasy above all else rather than a results-driven system.
On that note, it’s probably also time for me to abandon assumptions I held over Eusebio Di Francesco’s football. As much of a fan I am of EDF, barely anything about this move suggests his favoured 4-3-3 will survive as the template for the team next year. Last year was a learning experience for the Abruzzese man in many key moments, and accommodating Pastore in his schema will certainly be a challenge to keep pushing EDF out of his comfort zone. A little unpredictability may just be the spice that EDF’s Roma needs.