First things first – Roma have a game against Atalanta on Sunday, and a full squad. Inter are confronting Fiorentina, and Milan are up against treacherous Catania, so a victory is expected. The great question is that of the attacking trident, which has finally concluded its interminable gestation and now, three months after the last player was acquired, can be fielded at will. Against Bari the triangle worked, but intermittently, and at a low pace. It needs more practice, and we had called the home-game against Atalanta as the perfect opportunity to test it out again. Now, we are not so sure. Not because it may lack efficiency, on the contrary, but only because Mirko Vučinić is a diffidato, that is to say, he has a yellow card on his back. This implies that should he earn another card against Atalanta, he will be suspended for the match after that. What would that match be? The Derby della Capitale. Oh, ah.
So a possible solution would be that of fielding Jérémy Ménez and turning the trident from a To-Vu-To into a To-Me-To (as sickeningly ridiculous as that may sound). Sources from within Trigoria claim that the Frenchman is displaying terrific form in training, and considering that the Atalanta defence is not exactly marmoreal, keeping Vučinić on the sidelines may be for the best. It is all a matter of assessing risks – would Roma rather lose the opportunity for the To-Vu-To to gain one more game of gelling time on the pitch, or should they risk losing Vučinić in the derby? Claudio Ranieri will have to make that decision, keeping in mind that the two games after Atalanta (Lazio and Sampdoria) are easily the two most challenging left in the schedule. As for the remainder of the squad, the names should remain unvaried from Bari.
Leaving aside the match on Sunday for a moment, voices are stirring on the mercato. Word has it that Roberto Mancini, the current Coach of Manchester City, would love to see the above-mentioned Montenegrin playing in the shirt of his team. The team from the other side of Manchester (the one that is United) have reiterated their interest as well. We learn from Trigoria that no offer has been made as of yet, but it is likely that even were one to be placed on the table, it would be rejected at once. Vučinić is simply one of Roma’s greatest assets, and it seems inconceivable that he should leave in the near future, especially now that the team is riding on the crest of remarkable results. It is true that important players have been leaving the capital at a rate of one per year for the last three or four years, but this is simply a different case. When Amantino Mancini and Cristian Chivu were surrendered to Inter, both players had a marked intention to leave. When Alberto Aquilani was given away to Liverpool, the team had just come out of a terrible year and management was under dire financial pressure. Now we are talking about a player who is in love with Roma and a team that will certainly qualify for the Champions League and is still running for the Scudetto and the Coppa Italia. Not to mention that there is several other players who can be sold to make profit (some even say, Philippe Mexès, though that strikes us as very unlikely for the same reasons as his colleague). No, Vučinić is staying. That’s simply beyond discussion
While the matter of the Montenegrin need not be discussed, there is much else surrounding Roma’s mercato that does. Not much is left of the season, and people are already speculating as to what the Giallorossi will look like next year. Luca Toni and Nicolás Burdisso are not fully owned yet, but it is safe to assume that they shall be confirmed. The most urgent requirements are two players for the bench who can substitute, when needed, David Pizarro and John Arne Riise – in other words, a playmaker and left-back. Both these players have had a fantastic year and they will be starters again after the summer, but there is no-one to replace them in case of injury or even just fatigue (we must keep in mind that Roma will be playing in the Champions League next year, and some turnover will be needed at times).
These two positions aside, all the rest is speculation. Most say that Júlio Baptista should be sold, though he has been useful this year, and given how prone to injury Toni and Francesco Totti are, if he does leave, then a replacement should be acquired (possibly not by recalling Stefano Okaka, who would be cheap, but who needs another year outside to really grow – perhaps we can find a team like Barcelona or Real Madrid that is willing to loan us one of their young quality forwards?). A new right-back on the bench would not be a bad idea, since Marco Cassetti is pushing age-limits and Marco Motta is not always very reliable. Therefore Aleandro Rosi, who has impressed on loan at Siena this year, should perhaps be called back, not necessarily to play as a starter, but for depth, safety and investment value (he is still 23). Depending on whether Ranieri wishes to play a formation with wingers, we also have the option of claiming Stefano Guberti back from his loan to Sampdoria, lending further depth on the flanks. Finally, but this is just a personal fantasy of this writer, it would not be ill-conceived to take a look at what Juventus have to offer. Given how their team has fallen apart this year, they may be willing to offer up (and undervalue) some of their products on the mercato. Diego may be a bit beyond Roma’s financial possibilities, but the possibility of snatching someone like Felipe Melo or Paolo De Ceglie at accessible prices would be the cherry on a very sweet season.