“There are lots of other players available,” shrugged AS Roma boss Eusebio Di Francesco at a Press conference ahead of his side’s International Champions Cup match versus Tottenham Hotspur on Thursday. “It didn’t go as Monchi had hoped, but I don’t care about it anymore. We have a competitive squad.”
Of course, the Coach was referring to former Bordeaux forward Malcom, after the Girondins stunned those at home and abroad by recalling their player – who was at the airport on the way to Rome to sign a contract with the Giallorossi – in order that a last-minute deal with Barcelona be completed.
Such a disaster, coupled with the loss of first-choice goalkeeper Alisson to Liverpool and the likes of Mohamed Salah and Antonio Rudiger also having moved on to the Premier League in previous windows, could make this club seem like one that was unambitious but it is exactly the opposite.
Since acquiring Roma and becoming chairman in summer 2012, American businessman James Pallotta has work steadily to improve operations, moving towards building a side that can truly compete in both Serie A and the Champions League. Previous bosses such as Rudy Garcia and Luciano Spalletti have managed the side with a negative mentality and indeed would have lamented the loss of their star players, but Di Francesco – together with new sporting director Monchi – has instilled a new sense of positivity in the Capital.
Here is a trio that are working towards a bigger aim, without getting bogged down in the finer details. Monchi arrived having signed £23.5 million worth of talent in 16 years at former club Sevilla and sold those players on for around £150 million, and it certainly seems as though this transfer wizard is working his magic in Rome too.
Having sold Alisson for a record-breaking £66.9 million, Roma’s new first-choice goalkeeper Robin Olsen cost just £7.5 million from FC Copenhagen. The latter may not be the biggest of names, but Monchi’s record speaks for itself, handing supporters of the Giallorossi reason to feel at ease. The sporting director has also brought in PSG’s Javier Pastore, as well as exciting young talent Justin Kluivert from Ajax, adding some experience in the backup department with former Inter full-back Davide Santon.
Captain Daniele De Rossi saw his side reach the Champions League semi-final for the first time ever since making his first-team debut way back in 2001, giving him reason to be optimistic even at 35 years old. “Since I was 18 I’ve tried and hoped to bring something to Roma,” the veteran told reporters recently.“It’s something that is very easy to say but very difficult to do.
“We will try to do something incredible, because the teams who have come first and second in recent seasons have improved. Juventus have signed one of the best players of all time. They are trying to build a stronger team and we are trying to do the same. In football nothing is a given. We saw it in the World Cup, where things went differently to how we expected.”
Juve may have secured the biggest signing of the transfer window in Cristiano Ronaldo, but behind the scenes Roma are quietly working towards closing the gap on their rivals, in terms of infrastructure, in the way they conduct their transfer dealings and an overall professional outlook. Having won the last seven consecutive league titles, the main strength of the Bianconeri is their unshakeable mentality, but Roma’s positivity and smart transfer business means they are fast becoming the most credible contender to eventually topple that monopoly.
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