Pjanic is not enough. Willingly or not, Roma still need to sell. Not just because of financial fair play, the sword of Damocles hanging over their heads, which president Pallotta intends to adhere to, but also to reduce the wage bill and thin out a squad that otherwise wouldn’t be able to be further added to.
The years go by but at Trigoria things stay the same: one player leaves, another arrives. And given the situation in defence, where there are players leaving (Maicon), imminent departures (Castan, Gyomber, Zukanovic), and players who it will be difficult to sign permanently (Digne), “there’s only Manolas left” (as Spalletti said). As a result, this will be the area where the most investment will be needed.
While we wait for news (presumably after 1st July), in the last few days some individual cases have been cleared up: on Tuesday Spalletti’s public invitation to the club to renew De Sanctis’ contract seemed clear (“we also have Morgan”). In the past hours though the option of Pescara has been opened up to the goalkeeper.
But that’s not all. Roma have come to an agreement with Mario Rui (€900,000 a season) and nearly with Empoli (€3m plus €6m for the loan). The Portuguese’s agent is still meeting with other clubs, so Digne (given Maxwell is close to a renewal with PSG) is taking the chance to continue to keep himself in the minds of those at Trigoria as well as trying to reduce the French club’s demands (who are demanding the full €15m, the Giallorossi are refusing to go over €12m) but it’s beginning to look like he may be out of luck.
The list of players being offered to Roma (the latest is the free agent N’Koulou who, despite what some specialist sites may claim, doesn’t have an EU passport), as well as the list of those who are waiting to be given the all-clear to move (Caceres, Szczesny), never seems to end. Incidentally, there will be fresh talks with Arsenal at the start of next week.
In order that progress can be made and some options on players can be taken up (El Shaarawy’s has been reduced: talks with Milan regard the method of payment), the squad needs to be thinned out. There are nearly 10 players who Sabatini is looking to move on: Castan, Torosidis, Zukanovic, Vainqueur, Iago Falque, Doumbia, Ljajic (who first needs his contract to be renewed), and Iturbe. It would free up around €27-28m (in terms of their gross wages) for Roma to move these players on, and without Garcia’s wage (€2.8m net for the next two years, i.e. nearly €10m gross) this would come to nearly €40m in total.
The problem is that requests for the players are limited to a few loan offers, with the exceptions of Falque (close to Torino), Ljajic (Fiorentina and a couple of German teams) and Castan (Genoa and a couple of Brazilian sides). And so, unfortunately, the sporting director could be forced to sell some players who he had been counting on for the future (i.e. Paredes, Ricci and Sanabria).
The work of reducing the numbers in the squad doesn’t stop there though: it would be easy to lose count of the numerous players returning from loan (17 in total) and coming up from the Primavera who must go out again: Ponce and Casasola are likely to go to Sporting Gijon, Cesena want Capradossi, Sadiq is on the verge of a move to Bologna, Balasa is between Atalanta and staying permanently at Crotone (who also want Marchizza), and Machin is wanted by Sassuolo.
It’s also worth bringing up Dzeko. For now, in the absence of any appealing offers, he has decided to stay. In Italy, only Inter or Milan could persuade him to change his mind. But in those cases, one of Icardi or Bacca would need to be sold first. In England, Sunderland are interested and have come to Roma with an offer of £11m.
This article is a translation – the original was written by Stefano Carina for Il Messaggero, available here.