It had to happen eventually – Francesco Totti finally got himself on the scoresheet for the first time this season in Italy’s top flight. A dubious penalty perhaps but who cares, as the point earned against Juventus maintains the Giallorossi’s positive streak and their productive month of November. The overall performance against the Bianconeri may not have been as convincing as the previous encounter with Fiorentina, but the smash-and-grab draw will do very nicely all the same. Perhaps Luigi Del Neri’s men edged it on chances but Claudio Ranieri will not be too displeased as the spectre of crisis now seems a thing of the distant past.
The goal for Totti will be as important as the point itself, as a striker that goes a long time without scoring will soon fall into a football depression which could affect the whole team. It is particularly concerning when that player is the Club captain and hero of the fans. Fortunately, this no longer a problem and Er Pupone can remove this seed of doubt from his mind and channel his efforts for the team collective rather than worrying about his lack of goals.
As it is internationals week, we will take a break from on-pitch Roma matters and discuss some of the other things that are occurring within the walls of the Stadio Olimpico. For once we shall divulge in whispers, gossip and ‘smoking guns’ that form the entertaining show that is Italian football.
One matter for concern is the issue of Philippe Mexes and whether he will remain a Roma player come next summer. His contract is up in June 2011 and as yet there has been no negotiating with regards to a renewal. It has been reported that the Frenchman, during an interview, reiterated his love for the Giallorossi shirt and that he could never play for another Italian club. However, he went on to say that he had to reflect on his future, especially in relation to the national team, and how the English Premiership is the strongest in the world. These words will worry many fans as the Gallic defender is a big favourite.
It is interesting that with Mexes in the team, I Lupi have only lost once in seven matches. But he has found himself squeezed out and marginalised by Nicolas Burdisso and the Brazilian, Juan. It is a delicate situation, which will need to be followed over the ensuing months, and it would be a huge loss to supporters if the talismanic ex-Auxerre player was to leave Rome.
More transfer news involves the future of on-loan striker Marco Borriello, who has been in superb form since arriving from Milan. It is this scintillating form, however, that is now linking him with a move back to the Rossoneri in the New Year, as injuries to Pato and Filippo Inzaghi leave the Milanese giants with a shortage of striking options. An incredible situation, but one that Claudio Ranieri will hope won’t see him lose his free-scoring big centre forward. We will have to trust in the loan contract and its fine print to ensure the team keeps hold of its most successful summer signing.
Under-21 striker Stefano Okaka is hoping to secure a loan move himself come January and he has options at home and abroad. Injury and the lack of opportunities have limited his first team appearances and so a spell elsewhere looks very likely. Cesena are said to have expressed an interest, or he could head back to the English Premiership if Ranieri is able to prise Valon Behrami from West Ham. The Hammers are said to be keen on a deal that would include Okaka and also unwanted goalkeeper Doni.
With regards to Cesena, the capital club has expressed an interest in young winger Ezequiel Schelotto. The young Argentine-born midfielder, who has represented Italy at under-21 level, has been turning many a scouts head, with the likes of Juventus, Inter and Fiorentina also reportedly keen on signing him. Cesena have said that he is not going anywhere, but he is only on loan with the team from Emilia Romagna. It is Atalanta who own the player’s contract and they may yet decide to cash in. A quick and tricky winger in the mould of an early Mauro Camoranesi (an attacking wide player with defensive qualities), Schelotto does have a very bright future ahead of him and would be a very useful addition due to his tactical flexibility within the team.
We will end this Club Focus by sending out a congratulatory message to ex-coach Luciano Spalletti, who has proved his managerial credentials by winning the Russian league title with Zenit St Petersburg. Whereas Italian players are being lambasted for lacking talent and quality in comparison to their European counterparts, the coaches continue to show their worth overseas. Bravo, Luciano.