Blog: Roma miss an opportunity in the January market

John Solano

Let me start this off by saying I hate everything about the January transfer window.

The media-driven 31 day period is a useless exercise but I understand its necessity. It’s a time for clubs to “right their wrongs” from the signings or lack thereof that may have taken place in the summer. It’s a chance for players to seek a move elsewhere mid-season if they haven’t played much in the first half of the season. For clubs and managers, it’s the opportunity to fill the gap left by an injured player or one who has to go play in AFCON.

I get it. Does it have merit? Sure. But let’s take a look at what it really is.

It’s a burden. A burden on managers. A burden on players. And, to an extent, a burden on fans.

For managers, the January transfer window is nothing other than a time of uncertainty. Not knowing whether or not X player will be at their disposal challenges them to adjust their personnel decisions or preferences. Having to integrate a player without having a proper pre-season is also a massive challenge.

For players, seeing their names in the newspapers being linked to a host of clubs absolutely has an effect on their psyche. Knowing that your future may be abroad in another country is a massive test for many footballers…whether it’s finding a new place to live, learning a new language, or learning a new culture – it’s certainly never easy not knowing which country your futures lies in.

As for the fans, the entire month you have to hear the pandering of directors and managers saying that they’ll bring someone in. If they say otherwise, they end up being criticized in the newspaper. Should a club decide to bring someone in, typically it’s not a “big name” in January and they’re often subject to criticism.

Like it or not, clubs are typically in a no-win situation when it comes to the January transfer window.

Now with that being said, we can say, almost indefinitely, that Roma missed a huge opportunity this window to try and make a push for the Scudetto.

As current, the Giallorossi are 4 points behind Juve, who have a match in hand that they’ll likely win. So let’s call it 7.

Nearly the entire season Roma have seen their depth tested. Manager Luciano Spalletti has had to play several of players multiples time per week such as Dzeko, Manolas, Strootman, and Nainggolan. January represented an opportunity to bring in an attacker and a midfielder to help the Giallorossi make their usual but improbable Scudetto push. Throughout the entire month, we heard director Mauro Baldissoni assure fans that, “We will do something,” only to have his tone change drastically in the last week, “If we have the opportunity to improve then we will do so.”

How did Roma thank and reassure the fans that they will do their best to improve the team? They brought-in an injury-plagued midfielder in Clement Grenier on loan with an option to buy.

Now…let me state this clearly: I really like the move for the Frenchman. When healthy, nobody doubts his ability.

Nevertheless, Grenier is still a question mark. Salah is still away at AFCON. Players like Strootman, Manolas, Nainggolan, and Dzeko are being run into the ground. Roma needed a reinforcement and had the chance to offload Gerson and Paredes while bringing in more worthy reinforcements. Roma failed.

So what now? Now we get to see the Giallorossi’s depth get pushed even further as February’s schedule holds Serie A, Coppa Italia, and Europa League matches. They’ll welcome back a tired Mohammed Salah and will, hopefully, have the return of Alessandro Florenzi from his torn ACL injury.

Not making a surefire purchase in January was a risk. I don’t like the message Roma have sent by their lack of activity. As per usual, this season signals nothing other than second or third placed finish, which is disappointing – especially considering before their loss to Sampdoria, Roma were in the crosshairs of Juve.

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