The winter transfer market is typically a time for fine-tuning, a brief blip in the football calendar in which clubs across Europe attempt to sand off some rough edges and apply the final coat of polyurethane before setting down for the stretch run. For some clubs, like PSG or Manchester City, that means adding the final pieces of a championship puzzle. But for clubs on the European bubble like Roma, the stakes are arguably even higher, as these moves can potentially bring in millions in Champions League revenue. It's not as exciting as its summer counterpart, but the winter transfer window is no less critical to a club's successes.
And speaking of excitement, thanks to the ongoing feud between manager Paulo Fonseca and club captain Edin Dzeko, Roma's winter transfer market was a potential powderkeg. With his manager and the club's third all-time leading scorer embroiled in a months-long cold war, GM Tiago Pinto had a chance, albeit a slim and rushed one, to alter the past, present, and future of AS Roma.
Shipping out Dzeko, arguably the greatest striker in club history, to appease your manager, who has only four months remaining on his deal, would have been a dramatic signal of intent from Pinto and Roma; a not so subtle signal as to where their loyalties lie. A Dzeko-less Roma would also have lent credence to the club's faith in 23-year-old striker Borja Mayoral, who would have moved from vice-Dzeko to striker of the future to striker of the present in the blink of an eye.
With the window now closed and Dzeko still with the club, Roma's transfer business wasn't nearly as intriguing or as exciting as it could have potentially been, but the club did some short and solid work this month, so let's take a quick look at the newest wolves in the pack.
The Player: Stephan El Shaarawy
The Deal: Free transfer from Shanghai Shenhua
The Contract: €3.5 million plus bonuses through June 2023
I’m very excited, just like I was in 2016, I’m very happy to be back. It was quite a long wait but I’m happy it’s all worked out well. I have to thank the president of course, the general manager Tiago Pinto and the coach above all.
It was almost as if I hadn’t been away. The love was always there. The fans have showed me that and I saw it the previous transfer windows. That made me feel very proud. Now of course I have to repay all that love and faith in me with my performances but I really am delighted to be back at this club.
I’ve always said that Rome was much more than just somewhere I played football. The city becomes a part of you because the people are so kind and passionate. Recently I’ve felt a strong desire to return and as I said I’m grateful to the general manager and the coach for wanting me here and to my brother for making the move happen. It’s time to start again and I can’t wait
Source: AS Roma
El Shaarawy should slide seamlessly back into the Roma lineup, likely splitting time with everyone from Pedro to Lorenzo Pellegrini to Henrikh Mkhitaryan behind Edin Dzeko and/or Borja Mayoral up top. El Shaarawy will bring a level of athleticism, creativity, and aggression that's been missing at times over the past two years.
And thanks to Pellegrini's suspension, look for SES to be integrated as soon as this weekend when Roma face Juventus on the road.
The Grade: A+
The Player: Bryan Reynolds
The Deal: Loan w/obligation to buy; approx. €7 million, €5.65 million in potential bonuses, 15% sell-on clause due to FC Dallas.
The Contract: Signed through June 2025, salary not disclosed
Obviously my goal is to make my debut for the club, and then ultimately win championships. I am super excited to be here and for the opportunity that I am getting...
Me and my family were happy that there were a lot of clubs interested in me. But I chose Roma because I think it’s the best choice for me. It was the development plan; going straight to the first-team, training every day with them… I think that was going to be the best choice for my development
Obviously it will take some time to adapt to such a high level like Serie A and a big club like Roma, but I don’t think I will have a problem with that. It is going to be my objective to make sure I adapt, that will be my focus. My goal is to play for the club and I do believe that I should make at least a few appearances before the end of the season
Source: AS Roma
This one is a bit trickier given the presence of Rick Karsdorp and Bruno Peres, both of whom have resurrected their once-moribund careers over the past year or so. But, as Reynolds said in his introductory press conference, he chose Roma specifically because he was joining the first team; had he gone to Juventus, he would have been loaned to Benevento.
In that light, Reynolds is likely competing with Peres for playing time. As long as Karsdorp stays healthy (knock on wood), he's earned the starter's minutes, so the extent to which Reynolds sees the pitch down the stretch depends entirely on how quickly he can pick up Fonseca's tactics.
Considering that Peres can play on the left in a pinch, Reynolds’ path to playing time might not be as circuitous as it seems at first blush. Long-term, however, one has to assume the job is Reynolds’ to lose.
The Grade: B
The Player: Elena Linari
The Deal: Free transfer from Bordeaux
The Contract: Signed through June 2023, salary not disclosed
I chose Roma because it’s Roma...The club has a great past, a fantastic present and a big future ahead of it too. I think I am at the right stage of my career to help the team to progress and improve.
Source: AS Roma
After remaining on the bench for her first official Roma match, Linari has played every minute in Roma's next two matches, turning in stellar performances in victories over Sassuolo and Florentina in successive weeks. One of the best center-backs in the game, Linari immediately elevates Roma's entire defense, forming a potent backline alongside Allyson Swaby, Elisa Bartoli, and Angelica Soffia. She even gives Betty Bavagnoli the option to play three at the back with Swaby and Tecla Pettenuzzo.
Considering that she was the first female Italian footballer to sign a professional contract (with Atletico Madrid in 2018), this was every bit the statement signing from Roma. Adding Linari to the likes of Bartoli, Andressa, Manuela Giugliano, and Annamaria Serturini gives Roma four World Cup veterans and sets the tone for the future: Roma are gunning for the number one spot.
The Grade: A++
The Player: Marija Banusic
The Deal: Free transfer from Montpellier
The Contract: Signed through June 2021, salary not disclosed
I chose Roma because of the history of the club. It was an easy choice for me. I want to have fun, I want to win and I want to become a better football player - both individually and as a team player.
I am very excited to start with the team.
Source: AS Roma
A 25-year-old Swedish forward who spent the past two-and-a-half seasons in France with Montpellier, Banusic was off to a hot start this season, scoring three goals in seven appearances for Montpellier. With Maria Zecca off to Pink Bari, Banusic will likely slot in as Roma's backup striker behind Paloma Lázaro.
The Grade: C+
When you consider that El Shaarawy was nearly a summer purchase, Roma's only real new move this winter was the acquisition of Bryan Reynolds. But despite the low volume of signings, new GM Tiago Pinto did well to address an area of immediate need with El Shaarway while also acquiring an intriguing prospect for the future in Reynolds.
Despite his best efforts, Pinto wasn’t able to find new homes for some of the club’s redundant players, but on talent and fit alone, El Shaarawy makes this a successful transfer market.
On the women's side, there can be no doubt: Linari was the BIGGEST signing made by either senior team this winter. A World Cup veteran with Champions League experience, Linari is arguably the best player of Italy's current golden generation and one of the best defender's in the world by nearly any measure; this signing gives Roma a boost in talent and reputation.
We'll pass along any other minor details that become public, but for now, we can turn our eyes towards the summer market where Roma will likely face several big decisions including the futures of Pau Lopez, Lorenzo Pellegrini, Javier Pastore and more,
But, don't worry, summer transfer rumors won't start for at least 36 hours.