La Repubblica (Matteo Pinci) How different would Roma’s strategy be without the Champions League? It’s a legitimate question to ask, given that Napoli are now just one point behind. They’re probably currently asking the question at Trigoria. There is a fairly reassuring answer: nothing would change. Not significantly, anyway. Ultimately the play-off round is only two games: while it’s true that it would force the club to limit their spending due to the risk of not qualifying for the group stages, it’s also true that it may force them to build a squad that is good enough not to be knocked out in the crucial play-off round next August.
There is more that needs to be done than reinforcing the squad though. The wage bill is expected to be cut, by around 20%, and the squad is also expected to undergo a drastic overhaul. Partly in order to avoid committing to expensive new contracts, partly because it’s necessary to refresh the squad after the last few years. There are question marks over everyone, from Manolas (there is an agreement with Inter, but they are now reflecting on it and may prefer Rudiger) and Nainggolan to Dzeko and Perotti. Many players are at risk, from Bruno Peres to the in-demand Emerson. Whatever happens, the club are aiming to cut at least €20 million from the €100 million (gross figures) they are currently spending on wages. Szczesny’s departure and releasing De Rossi, which would be a fairly important departure, would already reduce the wage bill by at least €14-15m. But given that players will need to come in to replace them, other important players will have to leave as well: who knows what Monchi will say about this when he is presented to the media on Wednesday.
So players will be leaving, but who will replace them? Pallotta has openly talked about “young players”, but it’s far from certain that they will bring in Pellegrini and Kessie: Roma have a buy-back agreement with Sassuolo for Pellegrini, but there’s no such agreement with the player. He is being watched by the best teams in Italy: Milan have requested information on him, Juventus are following him as well. He will choose the best option for himself in the summer because his next step will be crucial for his development. The problem with regard to Kessie is his agent Atangana, who is talking to Milan: Roma have an agreement with Atalanta, who don’t want to go back on their word, but if those at Trigoria aren’t able to make compromises with his agent then they are at serious risk of losing him altogether.
In any case, Monchi is already looking at other options, including young players but others as well. He likes Estudiantes’ regista Ascacibar, and other new names being linked are ‘Cholito’ Simeone of Genoa and Brando of Mallorca. Monchi was also a big fan of Armando Izzo, but his 18-month ban for failing to report match-fixing (which may be substantially reduced on appeal) has complicated things. Monchi will also make a couple of major signings: players who are ready to help Roma make the step up to the next level. Because, given that next season 4 Italian teams will qualify for the Champions League group stages, Roma know they can’t afford to make any mistakes.