In case anyone held any doubts, we now know that James Pallotta is not a man of half-measures - and Unicredit, who sold him their equity share of 31 per cent of Roma this week, know that as well. Pallotta can title himself the eighth king of Rome, owning 100 per cent of the share and having spent €33m for the last slice of the cake, yet he still seems bent on expanding his authority.
This, like the mark of any strong personality, is both a good and a bad thing. It's good because it almost guarantees that ambitious projects like that of the new stadium - currently swamped in the question of accessibility, as there seems to be no convenient solution to build roads into the complex without taking down something important - will find a ragtag way past and out of their difficulties. It's bad because it generates enemies that are powerful in direct proportion to Pallotta's levels of hubris - and the first of these enemies appears to be Carlo Tavecchio, the new president of the FIGC.
In fairness, Pallotta's opposition should be considered sacrosanct - an individual like Tavecchio, who nonchalantly defines players of colour as ‘banana-eaters’, should have no place in modern football. If the new Roman king were to start all of his battles out of the same sense of decency and respect, then Tavecchio may just remain the only enemy. One can only hope.
In the meantime, the team keeps offering snippets of news from the limbo of the pre-season, the most substantial of which – once we have acknowledged and dismissed the not-so-bitter disappointment of the Guinness Cup – have to do with the mercato.
Sporting director Walter Sabatini has adopted the strategy of the crocodile of the Nile, who snoozes for 364 days every year and then eats three oxen in a day. Last week was quiet in terms of transfer news, but action seems to be brooding – rumours of Mehdi Benatia's imminent transfer to Chelsea have been snowballing at such a rate that the deal may be closed before you finish reading this article.
Of course, the Moroccan defender's departure had been ruled out with lapidary confidence by the Roman experts, but we already warned last week against taking any ‘certainty’ for granted in Roma's 2014 transfer market. If Chelsea really are willing to dish out €37.5m, then the deal is likely to be closed, and this may unleash Sabatini's inner crocodile.
Watch him as he potentially goes on to purchase a replacement defender like Kostas Manolas, exchange Adem Ljajic for Manchester City's Stevan Jovetic – which is a bit like replacing a mandarin with a clementine, but the man has his reasons – and pick up one more player just for kicks, all in the space of two or three days. Just as long as he doesn't sell Mattia Destro. A crocodile could swallow that, but a wolf should not.
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