Saturday August 6 2016
Defence not the only Roma worry

Roma's curse with defenders continues, but Edo Dalmonte argues that balancing their finances should be Roma's priority.

On first impression, it’s been a torrid summer for Roma. After the Giallorossi were unable to afford Lucas Digne, new arrival Mario Rui tore his anterior cruciate ligament almost as soon as he’d signed his contract, confirming Roma’s reputation as a Bermuda Triangle for defenders. Antonio Rudiger himself also tore his ACL this spring, Leandro Castan nearly died two years ago, whilst both Douglas Maicon and Dodo were jabbed with a scalpel far more than they were ever kicked by opponents in their time at the Olimpico.

The other item was Miralem Pjanic’s €32 million sale to hated rivals Juventus, which sent the Roma faithful round the bend, especially when no big buys have come through the door to make up for it.

Amidst all the chaos, however, Pjanic immediately defended himself from the furious Capitoline backlash, claiming that “Roma sold me in fifteen minutes... they called Juve, they need money”.

Come to think of it, the Giallorossi have had to part with someone talented at least every summer, whether it was Mehdi Benatia in 2014 (€28m), Marquinhos and Lamela in 2013 (a combined €61m) or even Gervinho last season (€18m). Despite that, they posted losses of at least €30m every season from 2009-10 to 2013-14, and had to shell out €23m more this summer to buy out the contracts of Antonio Rudiger, Edin Dzeko, Stephan El Shaarawy… and Norbert Gyomber.

Even selling Andrea Bertolacci and Alessio Romagnoli last season for a total of €45 million still saw Roma post losses of €41m for the 2014-2015 season.

But what does this tell us about this year? Would it be logical to expect the so-called “same old Roma” for this season?

Well, yes and no. One of the reasons behind the hiring of Luciano Spalletti could well have been that he had previously taken the Giallorossi to two second places on a shoestring budget, in which he was able to make Max Tonetto and Marco Cassetti look passable. Allowed to buy in January, his picks of El Shaarawy and Diego Perotti have panned out so far. Since the Tuscan returned, Roma have averaged an astounding 2.42 points per game in Serie A play.

It says a lot that after landing a marquee signing nearly every summer, Roma have been quiet this time round. Financial considerations aside, they haven’t really been linked to any big buys. It could be that they’re happy with what they have.

The hope, then, is that the Lupa can make Federico Fazio and Juan Jesus work (just about), buy another full-back and make do until Rudiger gets better.

The problem? Juventus averaged 2.73 points in that period, and that was before they went on the rampage this summer, signing Gonzalo Higuain, Medhi Benatia, Marko Pjaca… and Pjanic himself. The thing is, at this moment in time, competing with that juggernaut of a squad doesn’t look like a particularly feasible mission - though with a maverick like Spalletti, one never knows.

Even if the Giallorossi were to fall short of their Scudetto aspirations, however, there is a silver lining: Napoli and Fiorentina are weakened, leaving a Top 3 finish rather likely, unless the team implodes.

Moreover, Roma are fighting on multiple fronts, including the Champions League. Arguably their best stint among Europe’s elite came in 2006-2007, even with their 8-1 elimination at the hands of Manchester United. If the Giallorossi could frighten Real Madrid at the Bernabeu last year, they could really go somewhere this year, even a quarter-final berth sending a message that Roma are back.

Just after selling Pjanic, owner James Pallotta himself discussed his club’s financial quagmire by lamenting the stadium situation, revealing that Juventus “have more revenue than us, they can spend more money than us…” recently. If the Giallorossi can finally set things in motion, they will look back at the last few years as a step in the right direction.

One major question mark remains: though director of sport Walter Sabatini has rightly come under fire for some of his buys (Juan Iturbe, anyone?), he’s made virtue out of necessity so far in his tenure. But has he gone too far? Was it really necessary to get rid of promising players like Tonny Sanabria (couldn’t they loan him again, or sell the scorer of eleven Liga goals for more?), even with Juan Iturbe’s return?

Remember when the Giallorossi looked exhausted under Rudi Garcia last season, or when they racked up a league-fourth 140 absences through injury in 2015-2016? Having done even worse the previous season, wouldn’t it be best for them to keep a big group so they can fight on multiple fronts?

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Have your say...
New stadium woes blanket rehashed problems, from repeated mistakes. New stadium woes should magnify your needs, magnify your finances. But magnifying finances are just excuses for not using the same lenses to magnify who you do buy, when you do buy.

Did Wenger help out Walcott when he bought the Ox? When he bought Podolski? When he bought Giroud? How did it work out for Podolski, after a good start even? How is it going for Ox and now Giroud?

How have Arsenal done? Hanging on or gone stagnant?
on the 8th August, 2016 at 6:07pm
Something this articles points out is, "Even selling Andrea Bertolucci and Alessio Romagnoli"...well, why are they selling these players? Why are they selling those two and then going out and looking for other players who cost so much money? Particularly on Iturbe and Salah. The latter has been good, but how good? If you're strapped, tho spend that money on those players; especially not when you have guys in those positions. I'm sorry, but it's Arsene Wenger stuff. New stadium woes...uh huh.
on the 8th August, 2016 at 6:02pm
as for roma defence they are some point of continuity manolas and florenzi seem like a basis to build around they have got some quality options at cb and fb.
on the 7th August, 2016 at 10:17pm
Florenzi was the worst player at euro cup. Always lost his position including the goal German scored, very poor pass and ridiculous shot. He is still a kid.
Roma r weaker or the gap betweeen juven and Roma is much bigger. If Roma can't cherish the time to build a strong team when the two teams from Milan are struggling, no hope for Roma.
on the 7th August, 2016 at 2:56am
There are bound to be doom and gloom articles like this when Roma have sold another major star, are hit with significant injuries to its backline while dealing with it's chief rival tripling its strength and are facing a big team in the CL with a place in the comp on the line. I don't think what the writer is saying is unrealistic. This is the reality that Roma must face. There has been no continuity. Without that, it's hard to win anything. The worst of this is that there is more to come.
on the 7th August, 2016 at 12:16am
it is a bit rich considering juve just spent 94 million on higuain to than accuse roma of being frivolous with their cash. still it is worth considering the financial future of roma will they build a new stadia, increase return on their commercial interest etc. Roma lack of Italian players for me is the issue of the day, in respect to some one like romagnoli he could have been in the heart of roma for the next 10 years.
on the 6th August, 2016 at 9:57pm
Not the only issue, but a big one. Roma have lacked strong defensive back up as long as I can remember. Remember Simone Loria, Souleymane Diamoutene? Bringing in Fazio, Jesus and probably Vermaelen relatively cheap is excellent news.
on the 6th August, 2016 at 8:07pm
The thing I dislike about Sabatini is his instance on scouting only South American youth and buying anyone who's not Italian. The team is in Italy, the fans want to see the majority of players from that country, and at Roma it is the complete opposite.
on the 6th August, 2016 at 3:41pm
This article is really bad, i do not know where to even begin, so I want.

I laughed pretty hard at the "Bermuda Triangle for Defenders" line.... Author most not know about Marquinhos, Benatia,that Rudiger was wanted by Europe elites, Kostas Monalas... heck even Florenzi is one of the best Serie A full backs and he's played out of position there.

Needed a good laugh this morning... Thanks Football Italia!
on the 6th August, 2016 at 2:48pm
I think its a good point that Edo is arguing in this blog however this article is too negative. I dont think that Pallotta is an idiot he is putting down foundations for a Roma that will soon not only challange Juve domesticly but be part of the elite few in Europe. The most important part right now is for the fans to be patient and allow Pallotta to build Roma her own stadium. Because for now throwing money at the transfer market makes absolutely no sense.
on the 6th August, 2016 at 2:30pm
Too little research done before writing this article. And a tad too critical as well. We have spent a lot of amount on purchasing players as well. For every iturbe, sabatini has been able to get a sanabria, a ponce, a lamela, a marquinos and many more. the youth sector is brimming with talent and hopefully it comes through. As for sanabria, we do have a buy back clause for 12 or 13m euros which isn't too much, So the sanabria deal as per me is quite safe for us. In any case Forza Roma
on the 6th August, 2016 at 11:23am
Can't agree with this article.

Sure we have made a "marquee signing nearly every summer" in recent years, but do you not think that has something to do with finishing second and getting the guaranteed CL money? Do you not think perhaps Roma are waiting to see if they qualify and get the cash injection which comes with it?

Clearly the team works but we have been unfortunate with the defence which now needs fixing, Rudiger and Rui injuries have cost us dearly and crippled our spending elsewhere.
on the 6th August, 2016 at 11:01am

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