Another summer transfer window has come, and so has another revolution for A.S Roma. The more things change the more they stay the same in the capital of Italy, as another set of sporting director/manager has taken over in hopes that they can right the ship. Tagged as another 'Year Zero' Roma have brought in Gianluca Petrachi and Paulo Fonseca to have their crack at bringing the Giallorossi back to challenging for Serie A again.
Roma were incredibly active on the transfer market this summer again as Petrachi had an incredibly difficult job in cleaning up the mess left behind by Ramon Monchi who fled back to Sevilla FC. Petrachi has added 10 major signings for the first team, while sending out 11 players who played a part in last years squad or were loaned out. All of this while not forgetting the sudden and shocking departure of Daniele De Rossi.
Petrachi had an incredibly uphill task to take on this summer as a result of Monchi's moves combined with the fact Roma missed the Champions League places resulting in the need to make money. The end results were that he had to sell the clubs best defender in Kostas Manolas, the highest scorer from last season in Stephan El Shaarawy, and best prospect in Luca Pellegrini. Not to mention the enormous task of unloaded the deadwood brought in over the last several seasons by Monchi, Petrachi practically had to perform a magic act in order to balance it all. In the end he managed to ship off Steven Nzonzi, Robin Olsen, Ante Coric, Ivan Marcano, Patrik Schick, Gerson, Gregoire Defrel, Maxime Gonalons, and Rick Karsdorp.
Read all those names and the salaries attached to them, and you'll begin to understand what Petrachi was up against.
With the international break upon us, and club football not back for a little while longer let's grade the business done on a rating of 1-10:
Leonardo Spinazzola: Coming in from Juventus FC in a last minute switch before the sporting accounting calendar turned over on June 30 in exchange for the talented youngster Luca Pellegrini. The transfer saw the 26 year old left back arrive in a €29.5 million move that could have been seen as balancing the books, but in reality will be able to provide cover that Pellegrini or Davide Santon just could not to the aging Aleksandar Kolorov. An added bonus is that Spinazzola can also play on the right side of the defence giving added coverage to a weak spot last season. While the fee is inflated the chances are that the versatile defender will be able to contribute greatly to a back line that severely lacks speed and defending. If fans can look past the fee, this signing makes a lot of sense purely on adding talent.
Grade - 7.5
Pau Lopez: The greatest compliment to Pau Lopez is that he isn't Robin Olsen. The 24 year old Spain international arrived from Real Betis for a significant fee, €23.5m plus relinquishing rights to Antonio Sanabria, but his qualities in playing the ball and a high line will suit Fonseca's system of play. It could be argued that without the errors and insecurities of Olsen last season that Roma would have been able to qualify for the Champions League. His game saving stop in the derby against SS Lazio is already reason enough to be optimistic about his performance between the sticks this season.
Grade - 7.5
Amadou Diawara: In a similar situation to Spinazzola, Roma made another switch with SSC Napoli to maximize their gains before 30th June and sent defensive lynchpin Kostas Manolas to Naples for the 22 year old Guinean midfielder. Brought in to replace De Rossi in the middle of the pitch the highly touted youngster does have a good amount of experience in Serie A and European competition, but has seen his playing time dwindle last season under Carlo Ancelotti. Having been talked up for several seasons he has yet to truly burst through, and may find it hard to supplant the options already at Roma for the double pivot role.
Grade - 7
Gianluca Mancini: Brought in to help replace Manolas, who was the pillar of the backline for the last several years, is Gianluca Mancini from Atalanta. At 23 he's shown that through his pace, tactical flexibility, and ability on the ball why he was so coveted by the hierarchy at Roma under two different regimes. While promising, he still has a lot to prove and it's yet to be seen whether he can adapt to a back four, and a step up to a club that at times can eat it's own. For his price tag he needs to settle immediately and contribute to making Roma's leaky backline tighter over the course of the season. He's one for the future, but they need him to step up and deliver now.
Grade - 7
Jordan Veretout: The former Fiorentina man is the kind of acquisition Roma was desperate for last season. Cultured on the ball, willing to press and tackle, and the ability to win the ball back then cycle the ball is sorely lacking in the current squad. The transfer will eventually cost €17m, which in the current market is incredibly reasonable for someone coming into their prime at 26. His acquisition allows Fonseca to mix up his midfield pivot pairing depending on his specific needs against an opponent. His lack of involvement in the first two games of the season highlights how much they need someone of his calibre sitting in front of the defence and shielding them.
Grade - 8
Davide Zappacosta: The 27 year old Italian right back arrives in Rome on a rather unusual six month loan with an option to extend from Chelsea FC, but his presence in the squad this season could potentially be huge. If he is able to shake off the injury he has sustained in the build up to the Lazio game, and be able to immediately come into the team to push Roma's captain Alessandro Florenzi into a role further up the field it could automatically take Roma's all around play up a notch. Question marks will be about whether or not he can provide the quality right back Roma has been craving on a consistent basis.
Grade - 7.5
Mert Cetin: 22 years old, Turkish, and under the radar. Those are most of the things known about this out of nowhere signing for Roma. Coming from the Turkish second division, and was expected to leave on loan, however Fonseca is said to be a fan of his attributes. While not a direct replacement for Manolas he could be a wildcard bet to come into the team every once in awhile and provide adequate cover considering the team is playing in three competitions this season.
Grade - 6.5
Nikola Kalinic: All Roma fans will be asking from Kalinic is that he contributes more than Patrik Schick, which as for setting the bar, is incredibly low. Kalinic is coming from a rather disappointing stint in La Liga with Atletico Madrid, but with the Euros approaching he should be eager to take his chances whenever Roma decide to give Edin Dzeko a rest. His Serie A experience and skill set should suit the squad should they need to call on him, but he'll need to get back to his Fiorentina form to be of any use to Roma having shot blanks at AC Milan as well. Other names linked with Roma were probably more appealing, but he should be an okay addition.
Grade - 6
Chris Smalling: The Mr. X that literally no one saw coming. Having been heavily linked with Daniele Rugani and Dejan Lovren all summer long Smalling arrival on loan from Manchester United was genuinely shocking two days before the window closed. Fonseca has stated that he's wanted someone with experience and pace, so Smalling does fit the bill in that respect, but his greatest weakness is his passing ability something that is precious to the managers system of play. Having waited all season for a proper replacement for Manolas he comes as quite the let down, and hardly raises the level of the squad. Time will tell if this move will work out for all parties, but the English international does seem genuinely excited to arrive at the club.
Grade - 5.5
Henrikh Mkhitaryan: The last and final piece of the transfer window puzzle for Petrachi. Mkhitaryan was another shocking piece of business as there were no whispers about his arrival at any point from Arsenal FC before reports came out that he was on a plane to Fiumicino. When Diego Perotti went down with another injury keeping him out for a decent amount of time Roma were left scrambling for a winger in order to add some numbers and experience to help it's young wingers. The move could end up being a stroke of genius as his technical ability and intelligence could really thrive in a slower league such as Serie A. While his best position is probably more central he could be the x factor in Roma's season, as he'll tend to drift in from the wings and look to unlock Dzeko behind opposing defences.
Grade - 8
Overall Grade - 7
While there may not be any genuine superstars amongst the group when looking at the whole picture between the quality of players coming in compared to those that they replaced the outlook looks rather positive.
The amount of work Petrachi had to do this summer was staggering, and it will genuinely take him several transfer windows in order to correct the glaring mistakes made by the men before him.
Besides a select few names that were hard to say goodbye to such as Manolas, El Shaarawy, and Pellegrini the club managed to hold onto a significant number of players when you take into account the renewals of Edin Dzeko, Nicolo Zaniolo, and Cenzig Under plus not giving up home town boy Lorenzo Pellegrini.
The most glaring mistake from the transfer window appears to be the lack of replacement for Manolas. At times last season he single handedly kept the defence together, and to not have a name to rely on gives pause on how high Roma can dream of finishing come the end of the season. How quickly and effectively Smalling settles into a new league and system could determine Roma's fate.
However, given that he was undoubtedly able to strengthen every position and fulfil his goal of having two quality players in every role, ones in which that for the most part plug into the formation of the manager. While the previous season was absolutely dire for the Giallorossi faithful this season's squad should help restore the belief once again if only from an entertainment point of view, but with so many question marks again in the side it's yet to be seen how many places higher up they'll be able to finish.