Fresh off a third place finish and enthralling semi-final run in last season’s UEFA Champions League, Roma entered this summer looking to take the next step forward in pursuit of bigger and brighter achievements.
Early and often, sporting director Monchi spun a successful 2017-18 and profitable European campaign into a heavy influx of talent, building a squad for manager Eusebio Di Francesco to move full steam ahead, with both short and long-term goals in mind. Bryan Cristante, Justin Kluivert, Ante Coric and William Bianda are among the younger acquisitions to support the Giallorossi cause next season, and beyond. Meanwhile, the capture of former Palermo attacking midfielder Javier Pastore from Paris Saint-Germain replenishes some of that creativity and attacking energy lost with the sale of Belgian workhorse Radja Nainggolan to Inter.
The likelihood of Roma delving back into the market during the remaining weeks of the summer mercato remains relatively high as both a winger and midfielder pique their interest. Certainly, the collapsed deal for Malcom threw a wrench in Monchi’s plans as his arrival would have closed shop on the search for a wide man to unlock opposing defences and add an attacking element Roma currently lacks at this time. And while Sevilla’s Steven N’Zonzi could still wind up landing on Italian soil in the Capital city, there are plenty skeptical about their summer activity to date, and whether it will be enough to move the needle forward heading into the 2018-19 Serie A season.
Nainggolan’s absence will undoubtedly have an effect on the way Roma play through the midfield, as his marauding runs and aggressive nature to charge into advanced positions cannot be understated. Factor in the sale of another star to Liverpool in goalkeeper Alisson, albeit for a price which could reach €72.5m, and the perception of Roma looks to be that of a club who are perhaps not all=in at this time for the Scudetto. That stands in contract to a team like Inter, for instance, who with a Champions League return, have shown great intent of challenging for silverware.
Roma’s concerns over the past few years with regards to working within the confines of Financial Fair Play are understood, but at some point, it becomes a hard pill to swallow for the supporters. Most clubs riding a third place finish and impressive Champions League campaign are expected to forge ahead and continue the chase for silverware through star retention and significant investment back into the market. But the fact remains: as long as Monchi is pulling the strings on the transfer front, many expect Roma to stagnate or perhaps even regress in the event several of their additions do not pan out.
With this all being said, and knowing Monchi’s ability to pull off shrewd signings, there is still a possibility that Roma can alter the public’s perception of being a ‘supermarket’, but only if they tick off the remaining items in their summer checklist.