It’s really hard to find logic behind most of Roma’s decisions on the transfer market in recent years. However, if you look carefully into the Giallorossi dealings since James Pallotta took over the presidency in 2011, one pattern stands out.
Back then a revolution seemed the logical choice, as the new owners wanted to start a new project with different ideas and, inevitably, new players. As a result, Mirko Vucinic, Jeremy Menez, Philippe Mexes, John Arne Riise and Brazilian goalkeeper Doni were all shown the door in the same summer despite amassing almost 700 Giallorossi appearances between them.
However, it’s been almost a decade since then and as another transfer window just came to a close, it really seems that Roma keep running in circles, as the list of notable departures continues to grow.
The latest name on the list is Alessandro Florenzi, as his loan move to Valencia was just as cruel as it was expected.
After the way Daniele De Rossi and Francesco Totti were treated, it only seemed logical for the club to show the same lack of respect towards their heir.
Ironically, similarly to Totti and De Rossi, Florenzi paid the price for loving Roma too much, as his willingness to sacrifice himself and feature as a full-back, turned against him. Many deem him to be unfit for that role anymore, and although they might be right, the 28-year-old was never meant to play there for such a long period.
Everybody knows that Florenzi is much better suited to play further forward, either as a winger or as a midfielder, but it’s obvious that club has different ideas. Nicolò Zaniolo’s horror injury and the lack of trust in Florenzi’s attacking abilities forced Roma to look for replacements.
In all honesty, at least at first glance, the Giallorossi have done well to bring in Spanish wonderkid Carles Perez from Barcelona on a loan deal with €13.5m obligation to buy.
The 21-year-old can play on both wings, but he has also featured as a striker for the Catalan giants, so it’s safe to say that he comes in as a direct replacement for Zaniolo.
Just like the Italian, Perez is left-footed and his preferred position is on the right wing. This gives us a quick answer as to why Barcelona decided to let the Spain U-21 international leave, as a certain Argentinian who recently won his sixth Ballon d'Or has that role locked down.
Although Perez is clearly a talented player, his arrival shows not only a lack of faith in Florenzi, but also in Cengiz Under. It is true that Roma will need depth, as they also have the Europa League to worry about, but Perez’s arrival clearly puts Under’s future in doubt.
And if one could argue if Roma really needed a new winger or not, one area that obviously needed to be reinforced was central midfield.
Gianluca Petrachi decided to bet on another 21-year-old Spaniard there as well, as Gonzalo Villar was brought in from Elche for a fee that could reach up to €5m.
The move can be described as a low-risk gamble, as Villar is a very attack-minded midfielder who likes to move the ball forward either by passing it between the lines or by dribbling past players in the middle of the park.
During his 20 appearances for Elche this term, Gonzalo often burst forward with the ball at his feet, which rapidly increased the tempo of the game. However, considering that Elche currently play their trade in Segunda Division, it’s hard to imagine the youngster imposing the same authority in Serie A or even the Europa League.
Roma made one more signing this month, and although it was in another position that sorely needed strengthening, the transfer was a surprising one.
21-year-old centre-back Roger Ibanez was brought from Atalanta on another loan, which includes an €8m obligation to buy. It’s hard to imagine Ibanez making a significant impact, as similarly to Villar, he is considered more of a long-term project and at this stage should add more depth than anything else to the Giallorossi backline.
Long story short, Roma brought in three 21-year-old players without much, if any top-flight experience, while they lost only one, but it was their captain Florenzi.
Bringing in young talents who are either a hit or miss has been part of many teams’ strategy for a long time. However, letting go of their most important players way too easily has become Roma’s trademark move ever since the American owners took over.
Considering all this, it’s safe to say that Roma have been running in circles in recent years and the January transfer window that just ended proves that once again.