Monchi said “Roma are not a supermarket,” but that’s not entirely accurate. What he meant to say was “Roma are not Poundland.” The wares are in the shop window alright, but with boutique prices that won’t be haggled down.
As Mohamed Salah embarks on a second stint in the Premier League with Liverpool, there will be mixed emotions in the capital. On one hand, the Egyptian was one of Roma’s best players, and had struck up a devastating partnership with hitman Edin Dzeko.
But the money offered was simply too good to refuse.
Salah’s €50m fee (including bonuses) is comfortably the Lupi’s biggest ever sale, making his former employers a profit of over €29m, which is mightily impressive considering the speedy winger was only a permanent acquisition from August 2016. This, in essence, is what the Giallorossi are about. The model involves buying for a modest sum, providing a platform to develop and ultimately sell for a handsome figure, all while being competitive.
New Sporting Director Monchi remained resolute and did not waver from his valuation of Salah. There was a clear figure from the offset, and ultimately Liverpool met the asking price, allowing both sides of the transfer to be happy.
The big-name departures won’t end there, with Salah expected to be followed out of the club by defender Kostas Manolas and midfielder Leandro Paredes, with the two men on the verge of a combined €60m move to Russian club Zenit St Petersburg.
On reflection, the reported fee is another bit of sound business by Roma, especially when you consider the performance level of Manolas in the previous campaign. Only 18 months ago the Greek international was in high demand, and his name was regularly linked to Europe’s elite clubs, but his form visibly plummeted from the turn of the year. Replacement Hector Moreno, a no-nonsense defender, cost a fraction of the price.
Team-mate Paredes also struggled in the 2016-17 season, showing flashes of brilliance, but never truly settling. While Salah’s application matched his talent, the same cannot be said of the Argentine and it’s yet another example of Roma getting the better of a prospective buyer for two players who essentially became expendable. Mario Rui and Bruno Peres could follow suit.
Other high-profile names who have moved on from the Stadio Olimpico include Miralem Pjanic, who joined champions Juventus, while Marquinhos and Erik Lamela secured switches in 2013 to PSG and Tottenham Hotspur respectively. With the proceeds, Roma signed the likes of Medhi Benatia, Radja Nainggolan and Kevin Strootman, and each arrival was an undisputed success.
This template is the norm. It’s what Roma do, and they will probably have to rebuild again next summer if the inevitable interest in Nainggolan and Dzeko resurfaces.
On paper, Monchi and his new club appear the perfect fit. Not only have last year’s second-best side succeeded in balancing the books, they have given the Spaniard every chance of building a new team, alongside the core group of Federico Fazio, Daniele De Rossi, Nainggolan and Dzeko, for this season at the very least.
Monchi is already evolving Roma. His blueprint is coming to the fore and, judging by the speculation, there is a very specific type of personnel the former goalkeeper is targeting. Names such as Rick Karsdorp, Juan Foyth and Lorenzo Pellegrini all have one fundamental thing in common: age. The emphasis is primarily on youth and emerging talents, players who can learn their trade knowing they will be given an opportunity. This is also why the appointment of Eusebio Di Francesco was no coincidence, as he has shown the courage to trust and nurture young players at Sassuolo.
The big difference, of course, is in the pressure and expectation that comes with wearing the Roma jersey. They may be regular runners-up or top three finishers, but that doesn’t change the undeniable fact this is a selling club with an excellent youth academy. In that sense, Monchi is the perfect fit. Whether the Giallorossi supporters accept that Sevilla-style mission statement is another matter.
Watch Serie A live in the UK on Premier Sports for just £9.99 per month including live LaLiga, Eredivisie, Scottish Cup Football and more. Visit: https://www.premiersports.com/subscribenow