Lost amid the route over Livorno yesterday was some quasi-big news, the potential-and-almost-official signing of Michel Bastos from UAE side Al Ain. Bastos, 30, seemingly impressed with Roma's utter dominance of Livorno, spurned Rafa Benitez and Napoli to rejoin his former Lille manager, Rudi Garcia, in the Eternal City.
The very nature and timing of the signing pretty much tells you all you need to know. Bringing in a 30-year-old player in the winter transfer window, let alone one who has collected more passport stamps than playing time the past 18 months or so, is a depth move, nothing more, nothing less.
But Garcia, as is often the case with new managers, leans on the familiar to ease his transition. We saw it with Gervinho, and now it appears that Garcia has set his rejuvenatory powers on the versatile feet of Bastos:
He is a versatile player, which is what interests me. He can play on the right or left, has a strong shot, good technique and can also play left-back, so we are covered in many different areas. I have been tracking this player since he left Lille, going through Lyon, Schalke and Al Ain. I always spoke to him and knew this was a possibility for us. Above all, he was very eager to come back to Europe, so I am happy. He's not just a player of a top level, but also a good man
We are in second place and want to do everything possible to have an even better second half of the season. This is why we needed a player if Michael Bradley left and one more option on the wing.
As Federico Balzaretti is out for the moment, Bastos can also play left-back, though Dodo impressed today and is getting better. Obviously Dodo can't play every game until the end of the season. I am not trying to change Roma tactically. We know Nainggolan and I hope Bastos - if he arrives - above all play good football and are very talented. It's true they have physicality, pace and are good at taking players on, which is what makes a complete player in modern football
Despite his recent goal scoring struggles, in the larger picture, the singing of Gervinho brought a new dynamic to the Roman offense, so, in terms of his faith in Bastos' ability and what he can potentially contribute to Roma's ranks, we'll have to continue our confidence in Garcia. Bastos, as mentioned above, seems like he can step in for anyone from Balzaretti, to Dodo, and even to Gervinho.
With less than two weeks remaining in the winter transfer window, Walter Sabatini's focus has been squarely on shoring up the weak spots for a run at the Champions League. If this is indeed a pure depth move, there isn't too much to complain about; Bastos has experience, a varied set of skills, and apparent motivation to thrive in Europe once again, all of which will help Roma stave off the duel advances of Napoli and fatigue.