La Gazzetta dello Sport (Davide Stoppini) Is tonight a game about who to buy back? Lorenzo Pellegrini, Luca Mazzitelli, Federico Ricci? Trigoria has made a second home at Sassuolo, and should any of them come back to Roma one day they’ll be worth their weight in gold. There will be mixed emotions – regrets, choices, necessities – at the Mapei Stadium tonight.
There are 5 familiar faces for Roma tonight: before they were friends, now they’re the opposition. Why has this been Roma’s policy for so long? They cannot guarantee a place for a young player, so if they stay they risk seeing his valuation go down, but when going back and forth with loans the cost eventually outweighs the benefits, so at some stage a choice needs to be made. Which, of course, might be the wrong one. Luciano Spalletti said as much himself, who spoke in particular about one of the 5 players who made the journey from Rome to Emilia – Federico Ricci. “He might make us regret sending him away to find playing time,” the Giallorossi coach said, “but at the same time he’s proving his worth for next year. That worth wouldn’t be as high if he had stayed here to be a reserve. Roma need to pay attention to the financial side of things as well, and as a result it’s difficult to get every prediction right.” Consequently, Sassuolo have managed to squeeze themselves in – by now they’re used to going shopping at Trigoria. At first it was the centre back Luca Antei, who cost €1.5m in loan and permanent transfer fees. His departure is permanent, there’s no way back for him.
The other 4, to a greater or lesser extent, still have ties to Trigoria. For one, it is only because Roma will get a percentage of any future transfer fee. We’re talking here about Matteo Politano, who today (tomorrow, who knows) is the biggest cause for regret for the Giallorossi: this winger, who worries Spalletti, is entirely owned by Sassuolo, who bought him for a total of €3.5m. Roma don’t have an option to buy him back, they only have a right to 20% of his future transfer fee. Aiming to make money, rather than make an investment. This was the rationale behind several other choices made by former sporting director Walter Sabatini as well. The sale of Luca Mazzitelli, in January 2016, helped to finance the signings of Perotti and El Shaarawy. Sassuolo bought the midfielder, who at the time was doing well at Brescia, for €3.5m. This time, a buyback clause was included: Roma have the option of bringing him back within 3 years – but the fee will rise after each year (it is currently €10m). It’s even higher for the other midfielder, Lorenzo Pellegrini: he left for just €1.25m, today it would cost €12m to bring him back to Trigoria (last summer it was €10m). The final transfer was that of Ricci: on 31st August, Roma decided to let him go, not Iturbe, and it would be difficult to say now that that was the right choice. The winger left on loan with an option to buy for €4.5m: if Sassuolo exercise that right, Roma will need to pay €7.5m to bring Ricci back. Sell players to bring in a bit of extra cash: that’s basically the argument, and throw in a buyback clause to find an uneasy middle ground.