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Looking Ahead to the Summer Mercato: A Way-Too-Early Departure Preview

Yeah, it’s only February, but you can bet your bottom dollar Monchi is already looking ahead to the summer mercato.

Parma Calcio v AS Roma - Serie A Photo by Emilio Andreoli/Getty Images

Ever since sports became a multi-billion-euro business, the rumor mill surrounding player movements has only metastasized. Every day seems to bring around a new rumor saying So-and-So is going to move to Petro-Club F.C., or that Mr. Up-And-Comer is going to sign a new contract worth more than most people make in a lifetime. While there’s definitely a commentary to be made on the average person’s ever-growing need to have up-to-the-second updates on transfer rumors, that’s not what Chiesa di Totti is about. In fact, there wouldn’t be half as many articles for us to write if the rumor mill hadn’t grown into a huge industry!

So, instead of fighting against the machine, allow me to throw more coal onto the fire by speculating who will be leaving the City of the Seven Hills come Summer 2019.

Candidate #1: Cengiz Ünder

Udinese v AS Roma - Serie A Photo by Alessandro Sabattini/Getty Images

We all knew this one was coming. Ever since Ünder blew up halfway through his first season at the Stadio Olimpico, he has become a magnet for Turkish Roma supporters and the perpetual transfer rumors. It makes sense, in all honesty: Ünder has no reason to be particularly attached to playing for the Giallorossi, he’s performed quite well in his role as right winger, and when clubs like Bayern Munich and Chelsea are reportedly calling your agent, your agent typically picks up the phone.

Call me a cynic, but I think this type of career in Rome is how Monchi sold Cengiz on a transfer here instead of to Manchester City (remember that transfer saga?). Ply your wares for a couple seasons at a club with a sudden hole at right winger, get some experience in the Champions League, and catapult your way to a super-club. Although Man City definitely would have given him the better contract, he would have had next to no chance at consistent playing time; now, when he moves on to a super-club, he will have the resume to successfully jockey for a start in his new manager’s starting eleven from day one.

Romanisti seem to be resigned to the fact that Ünder’s career in Rome is nearing its end. Certainly, the signing of another exciting winger prospect in Justin Kluivert and the explosion of Nicolo Zaniolo has made this bitter pill much easier to swallow. Those fourteen goals to date won’t be the easiest thing to replace, but even if Zaniolo doesn’t end up as Roma’s long-term solution on the wing, Roma now has another young player with star power. That will go a long way in smoothing things over. As for you, Cengiz, well, all things must pass.

Candidate #2: Diego Perotti

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

I expected next to nothing out of Diego Perotti when he first signed for Roma, but I’m very happy my expectations were more than exceeded. Since signing for Roma in January 2016, Perotti has been an integral part of the forward rotation when healthy, banging in a total of 22 goals through two-and-a-half seasons of play for the Giallorossi. Unfortunately, that when healthy clause has been Perotti’s greatest weakness; the injury bug was always a problem in his career, but niggling injuries have dogged Perotti more and more as time has gone on.

The Argentine has always said his intent is to return to Boca Juniors before he’s played his last match, so nobody should have ever expected him to be a Roma player until his retirement. Although his contract runs until 2021, I think Perotti is one of the most likely players to leave Trigoria this summer. Consider all the injuries he’s had this year (he’s only made five appearances in the 2018/2019 season across all competitions), and it’s clear that if Diego wants to make a difference at Boca, he should probably fly to Argentina as soon as possible. Although he’s certainly brought a lot to Roma, the Giallorossi will get by without him; they’ve basically already done that this season. So long, Diego, and thanks for all the fish.

Candidate #3: Javier Pastore

AS Roma v Frosinone Calcio - Serie A Photo by Paolo Bruno/Getty Images

Remember this guy? I was one of many who were quite excited by Pastore’s signing this past summer. The Argentine seemed like the perfect candidate to bring La Maggica back to Serie A, and who could forget how he lit up the league before transferring to PSG? Unfortunately, the same injury bug that bit Diego Perotti has bitten Javier Pastore. With only 620 minutes logged across all competitions, Pastore hasn’t been the revelation I was hoping for, and the growth of Lorenzo Pellegrini combined with the breakout of Nicolo Zaniolo has meant that Roma hasn’t really needed much from Pastore anyways.

For a club like Juventus, Manchester City, or even Paris Saint-Germain, having a player like Pastore on your bench isn’t the end of the world; if injuries hit too many people, you can still count on him to give a replacement-level performance. But having €4.5 million sitting on your bench is unsustainable for Roma, rumored Qatar Airways sponsorship or no. Expect Pastore to hit the road this summer, most likely to the United States or China. There’s probably some gas left in his tank, but for a team with tight purse-strings and Champions League ambitions, the bet ain’t worth the hand.

No matter what happens, expect another busy summer in Trigoria—we'll keep tabs on these and other rumors as they pop up.