The mercato isn’t over yet – everyone in the capital knowingly agrees. What no-one seems to be concordant about is the nature of the imminent change – who is leaving, and who will be coming in? There is at least one popular current of thought, which can be resumed in the words of Alessandro Cristofori, from the Roman radio network Retesport: “Roma’s incoming mercato is not closed. Before anything happens, however, Adem Ljajic is going to leave. Then there will be a lateral striker to reinforce Rudi Garcia’s team.”
These ideas are seductive, but we should be wary of taking them for true or even likely. One of the assumptions behind them is that Mattia Destro will stay in the capital – and while the young striker is promising, valuable and beloved by the tifosi, so was Erik Lamela one year ago – a player whose shock sale restrains us from ruling out a similar shock this summer.
In fact, a clear cause of concern for Romanisti is the fact that James Pallotta has spent so much and made so little, this summer - notwithstanding that most of the money was spent on the Juan Iturbe gamble. A major sale may still be around the corner - until a month ago it seemed like Mehdi Benatia would be the one to leave, then he confirmed he will stay, now the surprising news that Greek central defender Kostas Manolas might join the team serves to make Benatia’s departure a realistic possibility again. But in truth it could be anyone from Destro to Kevin Strootman, for whose services Manchester United are willing to offer a dazzling £25m, reports in the UK continue to suggest.
While these sales are unpleasant to think about, they would imply a lot more movement on the mercato as the extra funds unblock new options and the loss of important players calls for replacements. Lamela’s departure meant the arrival of Ljajic, after all, so who would come if Strootman or Destro were to leave? Or perhaps nobody else would move, in which case Roma will be expected to perform big this season, considering the scale of the investment.
In the meantime, the Guinness Cup was lost – and nobody cares, at least judging by the uncharacteristic silence on the social media – and Inter, in their 2-0 victory against Roma, have sent ominous messages for this year’s season. It is worth remembering, too, that they will not be playing the Champions League and will have energy to spare, making them an especially dangerous contender for the Scudetto. The sky doesn’t end with Juventus.
The season starts three short weeks from now, with an iron game against Fiorentina. The leitmotif going into next year will be ‘hunger’ - the 2013 slogan ‘Nessuno ha piú fame di noi’ [below], somewhat goofily translated as ‘Hungry for glory’ but more literally rendered as ‘Nobody is hungrier than we are’, is re-proposed this year as part of the marketing campaign for the abbonamento, or ticketing package.
Second place is no longer enough, so the literal translation is most adequate – except perhaps for Luca Giansanti, leader of the Marino civil list in the municipality of Rome, who questioned whether an image such as the one being advertised on Roman buses [below] is ‘appropriate’ as it may encourage ‘the practice of hunting’ among young people. At least someone is lightening the mood.