After a few weeks of stomach-churning results and stories of unrest, Roma finally look like they have settled down to ‘business as usual’. A Serie A victory and a Champions League win has been the medicine, as Claudio Ranieri put it, to heal the ills. It is to be hoped, then, that all the tales of woe circulating so far, have been – at least for now – consigned to the archives. If the Lupi are on the way to recovery, we, at Club Focus, would do best to look ahead and shift our attention on to the few snippets of information and rumours leaking out of the Stadio Olimpico. The Giallorossi, for example, are being linked with young Montenegrin central defender Stefan Savic. His agent, Chai Shen, suggested that a deal had already been on the cards earlier in the summer, which, however, failed to materialise. Arsenal and Bayern Munich are also closely watching the Partizan Belgrade player, according to the agent. In the meantime, unfortunately, his price has quadrupled and he is reported as awaiting further developments in January.
Whether this story turns into reality probably hinges on the future of Phillipe Mexes on the team. This ongoing saga continues to rumble on, as the Frenchman – loved and hated in almost equal measure by fans – has yet to agree to a new contract and journalists and supporters alike are now beginning to draw their own conclusions. Juventus and Milan have never hidden their admiration for the emotional Mexes but he has rebuffed any approach from these two Serie A giants in the past. However, it is Ranieri’s former London club Chelsea, who have now apparently declared an interest and offered to double his money if he will swap red for blue. Most tifosi will want him to stay at the Italian capital, especially since very few can bawl their eyes out for their team quite like Philippe. Not always the most composed of defenders, his gladiatorial qualities are nonetheless hugely admired by most commentators. It cannot be doubted that it would be a big loss for the club if he were to leave.
Brazilian Fabio Simplicio is another player rumoured to be on the way out. Having played a total of 22 minutes since his arrival in the summer, it is being suggested he is failing to fit into the Coach’s plans, which automatically makes him liable to transferral. At any rate, even such move would not pose any financial threat to Ms Sensi’s stringent budgetary control as the player arrived, as it were, scot-free. The only chances of him staying on would entail his being deployed as a viable alternative to veteran, ever-green Simone Perrotta, who, much to the disappointment of Simplicio, does not seem to miss many matches these days. The Brazilian’s future will then entirely depend on whether there will be any monetary offers at all coming through, good enough for Roma to take into consideration. In a not wholly dissimilar way, the Francesco Totti affair has taken a back seat and this will be a monumental step forward to everyone concerned. The player stated that he will only ever have the club’s best interests at heart and rather obliquely explained that his petulance on Saturday night mostly resulted from his own poor performance. He was back to something nearing his best, having a good game against Cluj and offering plenty of assists for his forward partners as well as lasting the entire 90 minutes.
Looking ahead to the away fixture at Napoli, Roma have to contend with ongoing injuries and suspensions. Mexes is still banned and is now joined by Perrotta, who has reached his yellow card limit. Adriano pulled up in training after being kicked in the ankle by Guillermo Burdisso and is unlikely to make the trip to the San Paolo. Long-term absentee Rodrigo Taddei also misses out and, although they are expected to play, both David Pizarro and Daniele De Rossi are carrying niggling injuries. A front three of Marco Borriello, Jeremy Menez and Francesco Totti is the expected trident attack that will attempt to break through the Neapolitan back line.
It’s like a breath of fresh air to be able to discuss the simple things at the club instead of the doom and gloom we have had to report over the last few weeks. Rome was not built in a day, and I Lupi have only just begun to rebuild their season. If Ranieri can pick up a win at Napoli, he will be sending out a very clear message to the rest of Serie A that Roma have overcome their issues and internal wrangling and are ready to make a serious attempt at winning the title.