Blog: A look into the winter transfer window


Roma have several important upcoming matches, none of which are bigger than tomorrow’s Champions League clash against Manchester City, but as January draws closer, the capital club will look to improve their team to keep their ambitions of winning the Scudetto alive.

What Roma need:
I think anybody who has watched more than two of Roma’s matches this season knows that the Giallorossi’s most glaring needs are at the back, at almost every position. Between Maicon’s injuries, Ashley Cole’s inability to adapt to Serie A, and Morgan De Sanctis…being Morgan De Sanctis, Roma are desparate for help in defense.

As sporting director Walter Sabatini said earlier this year: “There is a Roma with Maicon and there is a much different Roma without Maicon”, Roma’s fragility without the Brazilian has been very apparent. The gulf in quality between Maicon and Vasilis Torosidis, Rudi Garcia’s first-choice replacement for the Brazilian, is immense – there is no denying or hiding it. While the Greek full-back has been steady and decent in his performances while filling in, he simply doesn’t possess the qualities of a Scudetto-challenging team. While he is a good replacement when facing “provinciali” teams, his quality is sub-standard when facing the top teams in Europe and in Italy. These statements can also be applied to Ashley Cole, who has been, arguably, Roma’s biggest disappointment from their summer transfer window. The Englishman has simply failed to adapt to Italy’s tactical/defensive-natured game, which has seen the former Chelsea-man relegated to the bench in favor of Jose Holebas. Due to his defensive ineptness, Cole has been heavily linked to a move to the MLS during the winter, which would make his stay in Rome very brief.

This means that Roma absolutely must bring a full-back during the winter window, preferably one who has the capability to play both right and left-back. With Ashley Cole likely to leave and Maicon’s continuous injuries, Rudi Garcia needs to ensure there is not a glaring drop in quality when the Brazilian is missing, like there has been previously.

A much more clearer need is a replacement for the injured Leandro Castan. Kostas Manolas, Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa, and Davide Astori, who have done decently in the Brazilian’s abscence, have shown certain weaknesses at points during the season, shoring up the center-back position with a trusted name would allow Roma to continue with their squad rotation, which Rudi Garcia has shown to favor this season.

Finally, the “experiment” with Morgan De Sanctis remaining as Roma’s first-choice goalkeeper must end. When he was initially brought in last summer, many fans were disappointed with Sabatini’s choice as Roma’s new starting goalkeeper because many thought he just simply wasn’t that good. Many believe, myself included, that De Sanctis overachieved last season: he didn’t have many errors, had only the occassional “papera” (see: match vs. Atalanta), and put in steady performances for the club. Fast forward to now. De Sanctis, who has suffered a couple of injuries including one to his elbow which required surgery, has shown that he isn’t a quality stopper that a Scudetto-challenging team needs. While many will point to his game against Sassuolo as the obvious reason why he must be removed as Roma’s first-choice goalkeeper, it’s his lack of communication, continuity, and his indeciveness that seems to be absolutely killing his performances. He’s no longer the steady stalwart that Roma were able to depend on like last season. He’s shown that he can’t be trusted and that a more modern goalkeeper must be brought in.

 

The names and what we know:
There have been several names connected with Roma during the winter market, it’s difficult to tell which way the club is leaning, but there are some players who have been consistently rumored to be in the interests of Roma.

Let’s dive into the first name and it’s one that scares me the most: Glen Johnson. The Liverpool fullback is out of contract with the club this summer and an extension looks unlikely to arrive – we’ve been able to confirm that there have indeed been contacts between Roma and Glen Johnson’s entourage so it is apparent that the club, at some level, are interested in Johnson. After witnessing the struggles of Ashley Cole, it’s baffling as to why Roma would press for the veteran Englishman. Johnson has been wildly inconsistent for Liverpool. The only reason I could fathom that Sabatini & Co. are pressing for the player is because they think they can bring an English international to the club for cheap. We will continue to monitor this situation but, for the sake of my sanity, let’s hope that this does not come to fruition.

One name that has been heavily connected to Roma is Matteo Darmian. The Torino fullback, who has the capabilities to play on the left or the right, is one of the most touted, young names in Serie A. Darmian has shown the abilities to warrant the attention of the top Italian clubs and has been heavily linked to Roma and Juventus. Darmian is the player, in my opinion, that Roma want the most and is the best fit given the current fullback situation. Urbano Cairo, the president of Torino, is rumored to have slapped a €10 million price-tag on the youngster, a steep fee for a young player for any Italian club. It’s unknown if Torino are willing to part with Darmian in the winter (the club is competing in the Europa League) and the player’s agent (Tullio Tinti) informed us at Roma Press that there are currently no talks being held with any other clubs for the player – so a deal for the player may be difficult at this time.

Rumored names as potential replacements for Leandro Castan have been aplenty. Out-of-favor Brazilian, Doria, River Plate’s Eder Balanta, and recalling Alessio Romagnoli are scenarios that have been written in the press. I believe that Roma will look to make a deal similar to what they did last winter with Rafael Toloi: a loan with a moderately-priced option to buy in the summer. While the most economically-friendly deal would be recalling Alessio Romagnoli, it’s unlikely that Sampdoria would comply, so Roma will more-than-likely have to look elsewhere to fill Castan’s shoes.

Finding an available, top-quality goalkeeper in the winter window is no easy feat. There seems to be only one name that is both available and even slightly feasible for arriving in January: Petr Cech. The Czech international has been kept as Chelsea’s back-up goalkeeper the entire season due to the sizzling form of Thibaut Courtois. Both the player’s agent and Jose Mourinho have denied that a move away from London is in the cards for the player, but earlier this year, Cech himself stated that if he were to remain a back-up, he’d have to consider playing elsewhere. If the player were to arrive, he would undoubtedly become Roma’s #1 goalkeeper and the placeholder for years to come, but a deal will not be simple. The player earns massive wages (over €5 million net annually) and it’s unknown if he’d be willing to play in Serie A.

It’s clear that Roma need to improve in January. Keeping pace with Juve along with playing in the Champions League has shown to be taking a toll on Roma – reinforcements are absolutely needed if they want to maintain their ambitions both domestically and internationally.