Calcio Debate: Who Do Roma Need To Buy?
With the January transfer window now re-opened, Carlo Garganese investigates what players the Giallorossi need to buy in order to boost their chances of winning the Scudetto this season or next…
A quick glance at the Serie A table would suggest that Roma are having a very successful season - second in the standings, just one defeat in 17 games and an impressive 33 goals scored.
However it depends by what yardstick you are measuring Roma by. If you believe they should be challenging for the Scudetto, then the seven point gap between them and unbeaten runaway leaders Inter may be too much to claw back, even with more than half of the season still to play.
So who do the Giallorossi need to buy if they are to realistically challenge Inter?
Roma First Team Squad:
Goalkeepers: Gianluca Curci, Alexander Doni, Julio Sergio
Defenders: Christian Panucci, Cicinho, Juan, Philippe Mexes, Marco Andreolli, Antunes, Matteo Ferrari, Max Tonetto, Marco Cassetti
Midfielders: David Pizarro, Alberto Aquilani, Rodrigo Taddei, Ludovic Giuly, Daniele De Rossi, Mauro Esposito, Simone Perrotta, Ahmed Barusso, Mancini, Matteo Brighi
Forwards: Mirko Vucinic, Francesco Totti
I may be in a world of my own when I say that Alexander Doni simply does not fill me with confidence. The 28-year-old has gained a reputation as one of Serie A’s best shot-stoppers in recent seasons and he certainly has an array of outstanding attributes.
He is tall, commanding, imposing, and a superb shot-stopper. However just like another of his compatriots, Milan’s Nelson Dida, he is always susceptible to throwing in a gaffe now and again.
Doni’s decision-making is shaky at best, and his poor positioning often forces him into making saves that are unnecessary. Roma’s low point of last season, the 7-1 thrashing to Man Utd at Old Trafford, was in a large part down to Doni, something very few journalists picked up upon.
As for reserve goalkeeper Curci, he hugely impressed me around four years ago as a teenager and I predicted a big, international future. However he has not developed as well as first thought. A loan move would be a good idea in order to understand just how good the 22-year-old can become.
It is highly unlikely that Roma will replace Doni so talking about replacements seems rather pointless, however I would recommend a move for two brilliant shot-stoppers who certainly will be available in the summer; Fiorentina’s Sebastien Frey and Celtic’s Artur Boruc.
Livorno’s Marco Amelia is Roma through-and-through and has stated on numerous occasions that he would love to play for his hometown club. However the 25-year-old is hugely over-rated in my opinion, and I wouldn’t go anywhere near him.
Roma’s defence has improved markedly recently, with just two goals conceded in their last six Serie A games. However this was preceded by a disastrous run, which saw them leak a whopping 16 goals in just eight matches.
The centre of Roma’s defence with Mexes and Juan is very strong, despite the formers struggles this campaign. The pair are finally starting to establish an excellent understanding together, and when on song there are few better centre half pairings in Europe.
However Roma could certainly do with signing a back-up option as currently they have just the inadequate Ferrari, the ageing Panucci, and the always-injured and again over-rated Andreolli.
Players linked to the Giallorossi include Bayern Munich’s Lucio and youngster Nicola Belmonte from Serie B side Bari. The Brazilian would certainly be a brilliant signing, however it is difficult to see how they could field Lucio, Juan and Mexes in the same line-up.
Free transfer options could be a good choice here, in particular Fiorentina’s Tomas Ujfalusi, who has excellent Serie A and international pedigree.
As for the full-back positions, the right-hand side certainly needs no work. Roma currently have Panucci, who despite being nearly 35 has been outstanding this season and is now his country’s first choice right back in the position.
Cassetti has also been playing well despite some fitness problems, while ex-Real Madrid man Cicinho forms a third option. Given a bit of time, and some defensive training, I can see the Brazilian exploding onto the scene next season.
As for the left-back role it is clear that some repairs need to be made. Tonetto has been a virtual ever-present this season, mainly due to the fact that Portuguese rookie Antunes is the only other natural option in the squad.
With Tonetto now 33, and Roma fighting on two fronts, it is clear that a signing needs to be made, probably as early as this month.
Numerous names have been linked to the Stadio Olimpico, including Dutch duo Urby Emanuelson and Royston Drenthe, and Catania revelation Juan Manuel Vargas.
My choice out of the three would undoubtedly be the Peruvian, who is known as ‘Catania’s Roberto Carlos’ and has superb ability bursting forward down the flank.
Lyon’s Fabio Grosso could be an option in the summer, and the player indeed was born in Rome, however it could be costly to wait that long.
The midfield is an area of the team where Roma really need no work in, except to find a replacement for the inevitable departure of winger Amantino Mancini.
The Giallorossi undoubtedly have one of the best midfields in Europe, and with De Rossi and Aquilani they have the future of the national team for the next 10 years. With Perrotta and Taddei also offering outstanding support, few teams on the continent can boast such quality.
Furthermore they also possess top-class back-ups in the form of Giuly, Pizarro, and even Esposito, who has failed to shine so far.
The only activity that is required of Coach Luciano Spalletti in the summer is to find an adequate replacement for Mancini, who is certain to leave due to his contract running out in 2009.
Three wingers have been linked as substitutes; Real Madrid’s Arjen Robben, Inter’s Santiago Solari, and Bayer Leverkusen’s Tranquillo Barnetta. One must also not forget Vargas and Drenthe, who can also occupy this role.
Robben is clearly the most talented of these options, however his constant injury problems, as well as his sky-high wages and transfer fee will make this move impossible.
Signing Solari would be frankly ridiculous, while 22-year-old Swiss star Barnetta I have not seen play since the 2006 World Cup in Germany, where I must admit he did impress me.
The perfect replacement for me is a player that has not been linked with the club; Torino’s Alessandro Rosina. Skilful, pacy, two-footed, with brilliant technique, the 23-year-old ‘Rosinaldo’ would fit in perfectly with Roma’s stylish football.
Another player of a similar mould, who certainly would be available for a decent price is Cagliari’s Pasquale Foggia.
Unlike the midfield, Roma’s attack looks very shallow, with at least two players needing to be brought in.
Currently the Giallorossi have just two forwards in their first-team squad – Totti and Vucinic.
Part of the problem revolves around Spalletti’s favoured system of playing Totti up-front by himself. Some believe that this penalises Roma in close, tight games against big clubs because it means that they do not have a penalty-box striker to break the deadlock.
I agree with this theory to an extent but at the same token, changing a system that Roma have used for the best part of two years could prove even more detrimental.
Either way it is clear that Roma need to sign two more strikers, and the five names chiefly associated with a move are Antonio Di Natale, Adrian Mutu, Amauri, Cristiano Lucarelli and Andrea Caracciolo.
The last two names from this list should be discarded immediately as both are just lumbering front men, who would not fit in with the technical pass-and-move style of Roma.
Di Natale and Mutu would adapt immediately and would prove massive hits in the Eternal City. While there is certainly a possibility of the Italian moving in the summer, a transfer for Mutu may be problematic given his love for Fiorentina.
However if the Viola do not make it into next season’s Champions League, everything is possible.
As for Amauri, again a lot depends on whether Spalletti is prepared to ditch Totti as the lone-striker and play him in a deeper role.
Anyhow I would expect the Palermo star to sign for either Milan, Juventus or Barcelona in the summer.
I agree about what he said about the defence, and we definatley need another left back. I'd love Fabio Grosso, and we should have gone for him after the world cup, but unfortunatley Inter decided to buy him and ruin him. I can't imagine that we'd be able to afford a massive transfer fee, but we can use Mancini to get him, as Lyon have been linked with him, and have made an offer in the past.
A center back is a must. I don't care if we will have difficulty fitting Lucio, Juan and Mancini in the same squad. Someoene gets dropped. That is football. If we want to compete on two fronts, then we need to assemble the best possible squad, and have quality replacements in each position. A lot of teams bench high profile players and I don't see why we would be any different.
I don't agree with us needing to buy two strikers, we've got plenty. Totti and Vucinic are our natural strikers, but don't forget that, if needed, Mancini, Esposito and Giuly can play up front. If we only play one striker, and have 1 natural replacement, and 3 adequate and successful replacements, then why would we need to sign two, if we only play with one? We have Okaka for next season, so maybe we should get a decent striker on loan for the rest of the season. Or, as I have stated a million times before, we can swap Mancini for Bianchi. The other strikers that are mentioned in this article are way to unrealistic for us - Di Natale, Mutu, Caracciolo and Lucarelli have denied all rumours, and Amauri hasn't been linked with us, and we all know that he wont come to Rome. We've got Zarineh, Montella and Okaka out on loan, so purchasing a striker seems highly unlikley. Look, while it would be nice to get a quality striker, and I know we will eventually buy one, it is not absolutley necessary for us to get one NOW. We've got more important positions to fill at the moment.