Roma’s rebuild continues with the captures of Leandro Paredes and Renato Sanches from PSG.
Coming off the back of a disappointing Europa League final loss it was pivotal that Jose Mourinho’s recruitment team made some smart deals to reinvigorate the squad.
Considering the club mostly has to rely on loan deals and free transfers, to get this duo of international players through the door should be considered a real coup by everyone associated with the club.
Sanches arrives after a disappointing spell in the French capital where he only made a total of 23 appearances in Ligue 1 action last season. It was no wonder he made such little impression with stars such as Marco Veratti, Vitinha, Fabian Ruiz and Carlos Soler all ahead of him in the pecking order.
However the 32 capped Portuguese international has come off the back of a poor season before and then excelled afterwards. He did this after his stint in the Bundesliga with Bayern Munich before leaving for France and Lille which accumulated in having a staring role as Lille won the 2020/21 Ligue 1 title.
Mourinho has got a player who will add much needed drive to a rather static midfield, which showed last term when they needed to get the ball up into the final third as quickly as possible. Although Sanches likes to drive forward he is no slouch in the defensive phase of the game either as his match reading ability makes it difficult for opponents to dribble past him.
With a promising cameo in the season opener versus Salernitana, fans should expect more in the next couple of weeks when he knows more about his teammates and what Mourinho wants from his midfield players.
Also joining from PSG in World Cup winner Paredes for a minimal fee of €2.5 million. The 29-year-old has bags of experience and should fit in right at home in a Mourinho side due to his gamesmanship and play acting.
That is not all he has to offer though as Paredes will more than likely act as the pace setter in the centre of Roma’s midfield trio. For all the off the ball qualities he possesses, his passing ability rather goes unnoticed. Having been overrun in many games last season Paredes should be able to take the sting out of the game and launch attacks from midfield when required.
The Argentinian will also be expected to take up some of the slack of set piece taking as his assist from a corner in the season opener demonstrated. This part of his game should not be underrated as set pieces are pivotal to Mourinho’s attacking plans and with Chris Smalling and Gianluca Mancini to aim for, plenty of goals should be scored.
Like Sanches, Paredes has just come off two underwhelming seasons with PSG and Juventus so he will want to prove to critics that he still has what it takes to play at the top level. At a bargain fee this transfer is low risk and makes a lot of sense.
The smart midfield recruitment does not stop there as Roma signed promising creator Aouar from Lyon early on in the transfer window. The transfer is even made better by the fact that it comes with no fee after the Algerian international decided to run down his contract with the French giants.
Previously linked with the likes of Arsenal and Tottenham, Aouar has not quite lived up to his early promise in recent seasons. For example last term he only managed two goal involvements in a below par Lyon side that ended up finishing seventh.
This poor form has not deterred Mourinho in his pursuit of Aouar though. With Roma lining up in either a 5-3-2 or a 5-2-2-1, there are a number of roles that Aouar can take on. It is most likely that he will be part of the midfield trio and will shoulder some of the creative responsibility.
In his peak early days at Lyon Aouar was a creative force to be reckoned with and this side of his game will need to be rekindled so Paulo Dybala is not overworked. He can also add a goal scoring touch from midfield as his seven league goals in 2020/21 show.
Also arriving on a free transfer is the hugely promising French centre back N’Dicka from German outfit Eintracht Frankfurt. The 23-year-old was another player on the wishlist of many other top clubs so it did come as a surprise that he decided to join Roma.
Having lined up on the left or right of a back three, he will slot straight into the left centre back spot vacated by Roger Ibanez who has left for the riches of Saudi Arabia. He is not quite as aggressive as his counterpart but is much more composed in possession and less prone to mistakes building out from the back.
N’Dicka should add a nice new dimension to Roma’s defence as Mancini and Smalling are much more aggressive and play on the front foot while N’Dicka is more of a game reader. In the possession phase he can bring the ball forwards through impressive mid to long range passing or through his dribbling.
Having been used to playing 35+ games so far in his career he will want to prove to Mourinho that he is the player the team should rely on. With a current market value of €28 million is it difficult to look past the fact that the main reason he joined Roma is to play under the Portuguese coach.
Mourinho has also managed to add defensive depth to his squad with the double loan signing of relegated Premier League pair Rasmus Kristensen and Diego Llorente from Leeds. Although both are fairly unspectacular they do add depth to a team competing in the Europa League once again.
After the opening day 2-2 draw with Salernitana it is important that Roma bounce back with a victory in their next game against Hellas Verona on Saturday 26th August. The players will still be without coach Mourinho though as he is still serving a touchline ban for his antics towards the end of last season.
With Lorenzo Pellegrini and Dybala returning from bans for this game, Roma should find it slightly easier to create opportunities from open play which they struggled to do against a resolute Salernitana side.
In terms of this seasons goal a top four finish and another European cup run with be what’s expected from Roma’s faithful fans. Anything else and Mourinho’s popularity may just dwindle.