The latest from Monchi last week: too many bodies on the right wing to consider signing anyone new. Some may feel like more playmaking talent (i.e. Hakim Ziyech) is essential for Roma’s summer transfer campaign to finish on the right note, and it’s clear Roma has to slim down the squad regardless. Where better to start with the man who was victim to changing circumstances in last summer’s transfer market?
Gregoire Defrel seems just a few signatures away from becoming a Sampdoria player for the 2018-19 season.
“Right now we like Defrel just as we already were interested in him last summer,” Sampdoria’s president Massimo Ferrero admitted to Il Secolo XIX this past Sunday. “We’ll see if an agreement can be found with Roma.”
It’s thought Sampdoria are looking to make changes in attack, mulling the possibility of saying goodbye to big-man forward Duvan Zapata for 20 million euros of Chinese league money. It’s obvious Defrel wouldn’t be a like-for-like replacement for Zupata and Sampdoria fans online are already claiming the move for the pacey Frenchman is an unnecessary one. It seems no matter where Defrel goes nowadays, he cannot spark enthusiasm among a crowd.
While Defrel’s time at Roma has been a complete non-starter until today, it’s been pointed out many times before this is through little fault of his own. He was already reneg’d on by the club and staff’s original plans for him, once Patrik Schick became a Roman reality. That being said, Defrel was given chances to make his mark on the side - in the least physically demanding position at wide forward in EDF’s side, no less - and could only manage a solitary league goal at home to last-placed Benevento. Even that goal was a penalty.
All of his other efforts helping out the team just led to more personal misfortune. During the dark January spell where virtually none of Roma’s star names looked interested in making a difference for the club, Defrel would go the extra mile to try and get on the end of chances but only succeeded in smashing his kneecap straight into a goalpost for his efforts. Lengthy repeat injury-layoffs followed, after he’d already been fighting off thigh strain injuries early last season.
So - moving goalposts with the staff, misfortune with goalposts on the field, and an unimpressive scoring record coupled with a hefty injury record. How quickly a year goes by in the career of a football player.
Last summer, Gregoire was one of the most acquitted forwards in the league in terms of both minutes-to-goals and attempts-to-goals ratio (then again so was Schick), and while his price tag was eye-watering for an athlete who taught himself to play football for most of his development years, it was in line with the going rate for Serie A names with similar strike rates - like Sampdoria’s ex-forward Luis Muriel.
12 months later and, unlike Muriel, Gregoire Defrel hasn’t had a World Cup knocking on his door. He’s mired at rock bottom trying to rebuild his Serie A career. It’ll be one hell of a task for Roma to outdo the trails of furbo that follow Massimo Ferrero in every negotiation.
How will they escape a Defrel sale so soon without a minusvalenza? Will they be forced into signing a couple of no-name Samp youth players to inflate the deal and pay back the Blucerchiati under the table for Defrel’s fee? Or will the whole deal just fall apart before it’s even begun?