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Thursday August 14 2014
Roma’s king and croc

Andrea Tallarita considers the news from Roma’s two most important personalities as of right now –James Pallotta and Walter Sabatini.

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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Have your say...
Benatia, Strootman, Destro are going nowhere. We need them for our Scudetto challenge. As well as our Champions League run. Doesn't make sense to sell them now the season draws near.
on the 21st August, 2014 at 8:24am
Roma and Sabatini are dying to sell Benatia. The are so desperate to do so, thats the strange part. Maybe it is because Roma are showing some blood color results in the financial reports.

The club are alone in Italy to only buy, buy, buy and buy. I wonder if they realise that FIFA FFP will hit them anytime soon.

Ohh, and one more thing. They over-value Benatia. €35m for a player that has never played at top level over a season. A player who, with his team have failed to make an impact in CLq
on the 18th August, 2014 at 4:45am
@Tottino

Agree with you on this. Tave's position is a very public, media facing one. This position is more show then anything else. In this light, Italy has chosen someone with this baggage, true or not, the point being his image is already tarnished. Why put your dirty laundry in front of the world in this case? If Italian Football wants to become a powerhouse again it should rid itself of all nonsense and circus related topics and concentrate on rebuilding the game solely.
on the 15th August, 2014 at 2:08pm
Great news that Conte is the new manager and Tavecchio as president... Both convicted and banned for cheating at some point with the added bonus of racism, money laundering and tax evasion for our president...definitely going to win something now!
on the 15th August, 2014 at 7:01am
For me it's not necessarily about that comment, but about the greater message this is sending about Italian football and Italy as whole.

If the NFL commissioner were to say anything as terrible as that he would be sacked on the spot - and rightly so.

This sends the message that Italy is a backwards country in a period where we are supposed to catch up to every other footballing nation.
on the 14th August, 2014 at 3:15pm
Tavecchio has the chance to put things right, I believe in people having a second chance. We must all unite. I don't believe Tavecchio is a racist, people sometimes say things in the heat of the moment without really thinking about what they are saying, it doesn't excuse it but it happens. We now need to try and stamp out racism in our football together as one. How some people cant see Black people as Italian is beyond me, we must try and change perspectives together and stamp out racism.
on the 14th August, 2014 at 2:13pm
With Conte we can all dream again. My dream is Conte for 4 years then Ancelotti. The Nazionale are in good hands. Mario will have to really prove himself, Conte wont take any crap from anyone. At last we have passion, never forget Conte overhead kick vs Turkey at Euro 2000. He loves Italy and every player under him will sweat blood and tears for our country. Give Tavecchio credit for getting Conte. I agree with "Joe G" Tavecchio shouldn't have said what he said, but we have to move forward.
on the 14th August, 2014 at 2:06pm
I am very excited about this season. My Roma have bought some top players and we look like keeping our best players. Benatia is top draw, we have to keep him. I'd rather lose Destro than Ljaic, the best is yet to come from him in my view. I am not a big fan of Destro. Hopefully we will strengthen further before the season starts. Looks like Conte for Italy, so happy. Tavecchio and Conte can do a great job in trying to change our football and move us forward. Conte is a warrior with passion.
on the 14th August, 2014 at 2:02pm
Can everyone stop focusing on one comment made by Tavecchio and judge him by the body of his work? It's getting to be ridicolo...........
on the 14th August, 2014 at 1:10pm

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