Salah wanted what he was looking for, and Rome too. It’s been a perfect market operation. The Egyptian midfielder rejoined the Premier League after his bland experience at Chelsea and is heading towards Liverpool. AS Roma earned a bunch of millions – about 40 besides the bonuses – and made a sumptuous capital gain after having spent approximately 16 millions to buy him from Fiorentina. The sale is cost-effective and not entirely dramatic from a technical point of view. “Momo” has been obviously important thanks to his goals and especially for his assists, but could have done even better and hasn’t always been decisive in the key moments of the season.
SALAH, TALENTED BUT DISCONTINOUS
Chelsea’s Mourinho rejected him saying that he’s a “exciting” footballer but not so incisive and flawless in absolute values. Spalletti, instead, considered him almost essential. Salah is all or almost. It may be enough, but it can also be nothing. He’s an artist but also inconstant. He charms you and drags you but he also could do the opposite, disappointing you in key matches. He can lead the way with devastating accelerations but he can be discontinuous for the rest of the game. He can give you a feeling of triumph, but then you often wonder if he’s still part of the match or if he can live it and fight it until the end.
Salah needs to be pulled like a slingshot, he must have at least 40 metres of space to fully express himself. He has an unmistakable script, but just one: his left foot. A script of a certain depth but he struggles to be convincing when it comes to play the other phases of the match, without the ball possession, with sacrifice, a way of playing that so far has precluded him a top player career. Sometimes he gives you the impression of being absent and he easily disconnects from team play, he offers some flashes of talent, despite having considerable genius moves. Salah, basically, will be missing with fondness for his positive contribution, but I do not think that without him Rome should despair or worry too much.
WHO SHOULD REPLACE THE EGYPTIAN?
The question now is the following: who will take his place? Market opportunities are different and multiple. AS Roma needs a side midfielder who can replace him, but not necessarily a midfielder of the same type. Di Francesco knows different players, preferring a more complete phrasing, a combination between an attacker and an attacking midfielder. Starting from the assumption that one-on-one should be a natural feature of a side midfielder, Di Francesco is spoiled for choice, especially for its 4-3-3, which apparently remains the main module to be applied on the field.
Domenico Berardi could be the man to bet on. He’s young, with huge margins of growth and some aspects of his character to smooth. His technical skills are obvious. Like Salah, he is left-footed, but he is more in the maneuver. He’s a good free-kick taker and should increase his athletic resistance to make a qualitative leap. He immediately must find continuity in order to have a specific weight in a team like AS Roma. Not so easy to assure in the short run, but he can try and work, as long as its cost, approximately 50 millions, drops off immediately. Otherwise, better leave it than take it.
Two other elements, such as Florenzi and Vitolo, could not certainly be a guarantee, but we’re almost there. Florenzi is more than an option. He should be seriously considered in that role that often he filled very well in the past. There are some doubts regarding the consequences of his last injury. If his knee is ok, however, he won’t be not just an alternative but a certitude.
Like Vitolo, which could be Monchi’s real big score. Sevilla’s player is an athletic and technical marvel. He’s Spanish, he has experience, he has character, and although he is a natural-born individualist, he has a strong sense of team play. Vitolo would increase AS Rome’s offensive game quality. He would be the ideal substitute for Salah and he would be the ideal partner, strategically speaking, of Di Francesco’s strategies. Vitolo, Perotti, El Shaarawy and Florenzi: four important midfielders, waiting for some other surprises. You know, with Monchi you never know…