Roma and Luciano Spalletti set to begin life after Miralem Pjanic
Its another busy summer at Roma, with Miralem Pjanic the big name departure.
As some of his players wind down from their Euro 2016 exertions and others prepare for the upcoming preseason training camp, Roma coach Luciano Spalletti will soon start preparing his preseason.
Currently, he won’t know what kind of team he’s going to have come the start of the new campaign, as the club embark on their traditional summer transfer turnover.
The Giallorossi are having something of a fire sale this summer, with a big chunk of deadwood — from Adem Ljajic to Juan Iturbe, Seydou Doumbia and more besides — all gone or on their way out. Roma are even trying to move on promising young talent like Leandro Paredes and Umar Sadiq, either of whom could be a makeweight in a deal for Bologna midfielder Amadou Diawara, while the €32 million banked from sale of Miralem Pjanic is yet to bring with it any big names.
No doubt the club will give Spalletti his reinforcements, but with Pjanic gone and another raft of players set to be sold or loaned out, the Tuscan will start his first full season since his return having to build a core group on which to base the title challenge wanted by the fans and the club hierarchy.
Two weeks ago, popular Roma fan site LaRoma24 carried out an analysis of the club’s transfer record since they were taken over by their current American ownership in 2011, and it showed that they have had to have a revolving door installed at their Trigoria training ground to cope with all the ins and outs.
The Giallorossi had brought in 58 players and sold 32 in that time, with the average player staying just 1.5 seasons before moving on. Of the 16 that had remained, 11 were signed either last summer or in January.
This turnover has had a particularly big impact at the back. In each of the last five seasons, Roma have brought in two or three new starting defenders, while three first-choice keepers have taken up between the sticks. In total they’ve had 16 different starters in defence and goal, while Juventus’ world class back three of Andrea Barzagli, Leonardo Bonucci and Giorgio Chiellini has been sat in front of Italy captain Gianluigi Buffon since 2012.
There are going to be changes again this summer. The arrival of Manchester City’s Pablo Zabaleta and Martin Caceres from Juventus will reinforce the right-back position after Maicon’s departure — hopefully with the consequence of Alessandro Florenzi moving into a more attacking role — while Mario Rui will likely replace Lucas Digne, who looks on his way back to Paris Saint-Germain following the French champions’ refusal to lower their €16 million asking price for the left-back.
With Antonio Rudiger out until at least mid-October recovering from torn cruciate ligaments, only Kostas Manolas will be left of Roma’s starting backline from last season once 2016-17 kicks off. In the meantime, Poland goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny doesn’t know where he’ll be playing his football next season as Roma and Arsenal have failed to come to an agreement over extending his loan in the Italian capital.
Roma’s situation is further complicated by their financial fair play issues and lack of guaranteed Champions League football, which means they don’t know exactly what their budget is going to be until after their UCL playoff in late August.
Pjanic, incidentally, was the only player bought in the initial summer 2011 splurge left at Roma prior to his sale to Juve, and there’s no doubt that he was an important presence on the pitch and in the dressing room.
With Francesco Totti preparing for his farewell campaign and Daniele De Rossi ageing, Spalletti needs to find a new core on which to base his team, and the club needs to rethink the short-termism of its transfer policy.
If not, Juve’s sixth straight Serie A title could be as good as done before a ball has even been kicked.
Terry Daley is based in Rome and has covered Italian football for both Reuters and AFP. He has written for Vice Sports and Mirror Football. Twitter: @T_Daley
The original version of this story which was published by ESPN can be viewed here.
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