Roma face battle for Serie A Champions League qualification


AS Roma face a end of season battle to qualify for the 2019-20 Champions League, after struggling to break into the top four in Serie A.

Eusebio Di Francesco’s side are through to the last 16 of this season’s competition, with a second leg against Porto in midweek, however they are in danger of missing out on a sixth consecutive season in Europe’s premier competition.

They have not been in the top four all season, and defeat in the City of Rome derby to Lazio this weekend, leaves them three points outside the top four, with 12 games remaining.

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Is Monchi the man to get Arsenal back on track?

The idea was that, in time, Sven Mislintat would become Arsenal’s Director of Football. The German was lured to the Emirates Stadium on this verbal promise, initially installed as the club’s Head of Recruitment with the understanding that he would move into the more senior role once Arsene Wenger left.

But Wenger departed Arsenal at the end of last season and Mislintat remained in his same role. More importantly, Ivan Gazidis, the man who had identified Mislintat as the man to overhaul Arsenal’s transfer strategy, left for AC Milan at the end of last year. The promise made to Mislintat no longer stood and this forced the former Borussia Dortmund chief out of the club at the start of this month.


Now, however, there are reports claiming Arsenal are on the brink of offering the Director of Football job, or something similar just by another title, to Monchi, the Roma director credited with turning Sevilla into a European force. Some have even stated that a deal has been agreed and that the Spaniard will make the move to North London this summer.

Of course, Monchi has worked with Unai Emery before. The two figures were key to the success enjoyed by Sevilla over the past decade, forming quite the partnership. This is surely central to the decision Arsenal have reportedly taken, looking to draw upon the chemistry that worked so well for Sevilla.

But will Arsenal give Monchi the sort of freedom that Mislintat craved and was ultimately denied? The appointment of the Spaniard will be for nothing if Stan Kroenke and the rest of the board at the Emirates Stadium are unwilling to allow Monchi the chance to mould the club in the way he desires.

Significant structural changes have been made at Arsenal over the past 18 months or so. At first, they were designed to ensure the club transitioned from the Wenger age and into a new era. Now, the new infrastructure must be utilised to give Arsenal the best chance of returning to the top of the English and European game.

Monchi has encountered issues at Roma, with the Serie A club enduring a difficult season after making the semi finals of the Champions League last season. But Monchi is still considered the best in his role in Europe. He would be quite a coup for Arsenal, but they must give him the chance to flourish.

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Losers of the January Window in Serie A

On Sunday we looked at the winners of the January window while today we look at those who have been weakened after the four weeks of transfer moves



The absolute worst case scenario possible from the ill timed Mehdi Benatia sale materialized as rapidly as Don Draper drinking an Old Fashioned. Both Leonardo Bonucci and Giorgio Chiellini suffered injuries leaving Allegri no choice but to start Daniele Rugani and new addition Martin Caceres against Parma- a match in which the bianconeri ended up giving up 3 goals at home against a newly promoted team.

Predicting how much this will continue to be a problem for the Serie A champions essentially comes down to how much you believe in Rugani, but it’s important to note last season the former Empoli center back was given first crack at replacing Leonardo Bonucci and ended up losing his spot to Benatia which resulted in Juventus’ defense looking substantially better.

Regardless of how you feel about Rugani, the bottom line is Juventus replaced their second best pure defender after Giorgio Chiellini with Caceres who was on his way to Japan after failing to establishing himself at Lazio. Juventus should have done more to make it worthwhile for Benatia to wait five months before moving for Qatar by offering him more financially rather than investing in Caceres on top of the opportunity of being on a potential Champions League winner.



The two Roman clubs were very quiet during the January window with Romulo as the only fairly substantial addition joining either club. While Zaniolo’s explosion as well as Pellegrini and Cristante’s strong performance made it logical for Monchi to stand pat when it came to improving his midfield, not signing a defender- especially after giving up 7 goals to Fiorentina the day before the window closed- may cost the team substantially. 

When you go beyond looking at the January window in a vacuum for both clubs, not doing more to bolster Inzaghi and Di Francesco’s squads is even worse when you consider the substantial improvement Milan with Piatek and Paqueta. 


Napoli ?


If you want to take context and opinion out of the equation, no team in Serie A lost a player as substantial in the January window without a replacement than the partenopei with Marek Hamsik. As I write this the deal with Dalian isn’t completed yet, but in the very likely event that it goes through Napoli at least showed clubs interested in Koulibaly, Allan and their other jewels that they will not be bossed around and will only sell on their terms.

On Wednesday, Napoli announced that the deal with the Chinese club was off because of the payment terms (not to be confused with transfer fee) which showed the rest of the world they will not be bullied even when it comes to accommodating the wishes of one of their most iconic players. Letting Marko Rog go out on loan now looks a bit more adventurous, but as long as Napoli don’t suffer multiple injuries they should have no problem replacing Hamsik in the summer considering their great track record with midfielders.




Completing deals that will send Traore and Rasmussen to Fiorentina in the summer made sense considering that the Tuscan club has always been about selling players who shine for them for profits only to replace them with new prospects, but letting Zajc go to Fenerbahce effective immediately may come to bit them since other teams in the race to avoid relegation (SPAL and Cagliari especially) made fairly substantial improvements.

Group E Belgium vs Italy 

Emanuele Giaccherini and Stefano Sorrentino


While Chievo essentially waived the white flag in the race to avoid relegation by selling Radovanovic, Obi and Birsa the former Juventus midfielder and stand out goalkeeper ended up staying. At least Sorrentino will be to tell his grandchildren that he saved a Ronaldo penalty by staying with the Flying Donkeys, but Giaccherini was deprived of the opportunity to play for a team that can also give him an opportunity in Serie A next season. The Antonio Conte favorite is still effective enough to start for quite a few mid table teams in Serie A.