Roma’s net spend since 2011 is just £17.6m. For a side that’s seen the likes of Mohamed Salah, Alisson, Miralem Pjanic grace its famous imperial purple and golden yellow shirt, that represents solid business.
Heading into the 2015/16 season, the Giallorossi’s net spend was £89.89m, but then they failed to qualify for the Champions League, earning £26m less than anticipated. The club had seen its operating costs double but their unexpected failure to qualify for Europe’s premier competition, along with sponsorship issues, landed them in trouble with UEFA’s Financial Fair Play Rules in 2015.
Roma had to agree to not post losses of more than €30 million for two consecutive seasons, which meant they had to sell a lot of their stars. As the current crop departs, it placed a greater emphasis on sourcing further buy-low, sell-high assets that could help to balance the books, something the Rome-based outfit have been prolific in achieving.
Here, Plugsville breaks each of the 12 players which have made Roma at least £10m profit and £247.5m overall since 2011. We have only considered players who made at least £10m profit once sold, listed in chronological order. For example, Kevin Strootman was signed in August 2013 for a sum of £15.5m but was sold this summer to Marseille for £22.7m, which means his transfer is not listed here.
Which players have combined to make Roma over £200m?
Bought For – £10.86m – River Plate – August 2011
Sold For – £25.8m – Tottenham – August 2013
Profit – £14.94m
Lamela is entering his fifth season at Spurs as one of just two of seven players, along with Christian Eriksen, who were signed in the summer of 2013 by Andre Villas-Boas to help replace Gareth Bale.
The former River Plate winger has gone on to become a consistent rotation player under Mauricio Pochettino, but despite receiving more than twice the amount they originally paid for him, Roma didn’t actually want to sell a young, upcoming Argentinian winger, as then director of football, Walter Sabatini said at the time:
“We’d never considered selling Lamela before but a number of new factors came into play and altered the scenario,” continuing with: “We wanted to give him a pay rise but then another Italian club pounced on him. A club made a big offer, making it difficult to renegotiate his contract, and at that point we decided to sell.”
Bought For – £9.9m – Lyon – August 2011
Sold For – £29m – Juventus – July 2016
Profit – £19.1m
Seven years of service and £18m profit on a 28-year-old midfielder to some, represents decent business, but Roma were forced to cash-in on Pjanic as financial difficulty loomed, to one of their main rivals, Juventus.
Since moving to Turin, the Bosnian playmaker has won the double in back-to-back seasons as a key member of Massimliano Allegri’s side. Only nine players in across Europe’s top-five league’s laid on more assists than Pjanic (9) last campaign, with the arrival of Cristiano Ronaldo, despite blanking in his first two Serie A games, likely to boost that number for the better.
Bought For – N/A – Academy Product – Debut in 2012
Sold For – £22.65m – AC Milan – August 2015
Profit – £22.65m
The second of two youth products sold to Milan in the summer of 2015, along with Andrea Bertolacci, Romanogli emerged from the academy in 2012 as the club’s next shining light, viewed as a ball-playing defender who could form the backbone of the team’s identity in years to come. His development was aided by a season-long loan spell of first-team football at Sampdoria.
Romanogli was a poster-child for Roma. A homegrown product adored by the fan base. However, Milan were able to secure services in 2015, although, Roma did insert a sell-on clause which means they will receive 30% of any transfer worth more than €25m.
Bought For – £2.72m – Corinthians – July 2012
Sold For – £28.45m – PSG – July 2013
Profit – £25.73m
Arriving on a loan deal for with a view to a permanent deal after making eight appearances lasting 45 minutes or longer, Marquinhos arrived in Rome a bargain buy and left as the fifth-most expensive defender of all-time back in 2013.
The Brazilian made 30 appearances overall before moving to Paris, where he has Ligue 1, France’s two major domestic cup competitions and their version of the Community Shield four times, while also representing Brazil on 27 different occasions.
Bought For – £5.5m – PSV – July 2013
Sold For – £20.9m – Marseille – August 2018
Profit – £15.4m
The decision to sell the 24-year-old midfielder was viewed as a strictly financial once, according to the player himself:
“Roma needed money but immediately vetoed a sale in Italy,” Paredes told Gazzetta dello Sport, continuing with: “They only wanted me to go abroad so as not to reinforce their rivals.”
Paredes has since been touted by Napoli, as a replacement for Chelsea’s new £57m signing Jorginho, while Juventus and AC Milan were also linked . The decision to move to Russia at the time was influenced heavily by then-Zenit manager Roberto Mancini. With the former Man City boss now gone and interest building, it seems Paredes could soon return to Italy to haunt his former employers.
Bought For – £12.2m – Udinese – July 2013
Sold For – £23.56m – Bayern Munich – August 2014
Profit – £11.36m
The Moroccan international claimed Roma needed money but the club claimed the player no longer wanted to continue in Rome, as Walter Sabini explained:
“I would like to return a portion of truth to this story. Benatia had good conditions but then he slipped. When I looked to him in May of last year, he had an offer from another Italian team, but he accepted our lower offer. In January he received external approaches and came to me saying that he wanted to stay in Rome under certain conditions and that if they were not realised then he would feel offended.
“He wanted €5m-per-season for five years. We could not give him the money but we adjusted the contract to compensate for what he had lost economically in choosing us. He asked for a salary that we could not give him and we had to sell him. I talked of a €61m price-tag referring to what he had done, dictated by what he had become at Roma. We sold Benatia because he no longer had the strength or desire to continue with us.”
Bought For – £14m – Cagliari – January 2015
Sold For – £33m – Inter – June 2018
Profit – £19m
Roma got two players, Davide Santon and Nicolo Zaniolo, valued at £12.7m, plus £21.8m cash, in return for Nainggolan. The 30-year-old made over 200 appearances in Rome, scoring 33 times and became an integral member of the side that beat Barcelona 3-0 before falling a goal short against Liverpool a round later in the Champions League.
It was Nainggolan’s late double in the Champions League semi-final that added dramatic gloss and respectability to Roma’s shortcomings, while the maverick midfielder also made news for retiring from international football after failing to make Belgium’s squad for the 2018 World Cup. He will now ply his trade as part of an Inter Milan side after being heavily linked with a move to Chelsea in times past.
Bought For – £6.7m – Internacional – July 2015
Sold For – £66.5m – Liverpool – July 2018
Profit – £59.8m
Liverpool could’ve signed Alisson for £4m in July 2015 in a deal that would’ve seen the Reds pay £3.1m upfront and £900k in add-ons to Brazilian side Internacional, according to the Daily Mirror.
Then-manager, Brendan Rodgers, was one of many Premier League and Championship managers to pass on the Brazilian’s scouting dossier, only for Alisson to sign in Rome the following year for a now-paltry fee of £6.7m, later arriving in North West England a transfer £59.9m bigger than the one Roma paid three years before.
By 2015, Alisson was no.1 for his club and country, securing a move to Roma early in the year. Although, his first season in Rome saw him behind Wojciech Szczesny in the pecking order, restricted to a few cup appearances. The former Arsenal man moved on to Turin, Alisson became Roma’s number one and the rest is now history. Much like in Brazil, he bided his time and impressed when called upon.
Alisson kept 22 clean sheets in 49 appearances while helping his side reach the semi-finals of the Champions League. He didn’t concede a single goal at the Stadio Olimpico during that unexpected furore deep into Europe’s premier competition until he faced his would-be suitors, Liverpool in the semi-finals, who signed him later that year for £61.5m more than they could’ve if Brendan Rodgers and co acted sooner.
Bought For – £13.6m – Chelsea – October 2015
Sold For – £37m – Liverpool – July 2017
Profit – £23.4m
It’s not often that club admits to selling one of their best players for a bargain price.
James Pallota, Roma’s president, described the decision to sell Mo Salah to Liverpool for £37m as an ‘unbelievable bargain’. “The issue at the time was that when [director of football] Monchi came in, Salah wanted to leave, he had a year left on his contract so in another year you’d get nothing,” Palotta told ESPN.
Having bought the nifty winger for a shrewd price of £13.6m two years prior, Salah would soon surpass his bargain-bucket transfer fee in Rome, scoring 34 times in two seasons before heading to Merseyside last year.
Since arriving in the Premier League, the ‘Egyptian King’ has won 35 individual trophies, including the Premier League Golden Boot and PFA Player of the Year. 46 goals and 18 assists in 55 games would suggest that the decision to sell Salah for £37m borders on robbery, even more so when you consider that the club signed Andy Carroll for just £2m less six years prior.
Bought For – £8.2m – Stuttgart – July 2016
Sold For – £29m – Chelsea – July 2017
Profit – £20.2m
Fresh off winning the Confederations Cup, for whatever that’s worth, the German centre back headed to England for more than three times the amount he was bought for one year prior.
August 2015 saw Roma and Stuttgart agree to a one-year loan deal for a fee of around €4m, with an option to buy for €9m later-on. The decision to first loan the injury-plagued centre back, who didn’t see much game-time the season before heading to Italy, went smoothly enough that Antonio Conte deemed him the man to slot into a back-three for the defending Premier League champions.
Rudiger’s time in England has since produced mixed results. His debut season saw him improve with time and he has since started all four games under new boss Maurizio Sarri for a Chelsea side that have won three on the bounce.
Bought For – £2m – Santos – December 2016
Sold For – £18m – Chelsea – January 2018
Profit – £16m
The Brazilian full-back arrived in Rome on a permanent deal after impressing during an initial loan spell, first with Palmero then later, at the Stadio Olimpico.
Palmeri has less than 50 league appearances to his name in European football but still commanded an £18m fee from Chelsea earlier this year, only to play sparingly under Conte, while under new boss Sarri, he appears to be a no more than a spare part.
A consistent run of games for Roma during the 2016-17 season, in which he featured 25 times, forms the bulk of his experience outside of Brazil, but was enough to convince Chelsea to part ways with the a transfer fee eight times the size than the one Roma forked over 13 months before.
Who are the youngsters breaking through at Roma who could later be sold for a huge fee?
Bought For – £15.16m – Ajax – June 2018
Like his father, Justin Kluivert dreams of one day representing Barcelona. And like his father, the Dutch prospect subscribes to the notion that he needs another stepping stone before thinking about playing regularly for a big club.
Despite being linked to the likes of Barcelona and Manchester United, Kluivert chose Rome, presumably because of their favourable reputation in developing young stars and willingness to sell. If the 19-year-old can enjoy a successful season or two in Rome, he could be sold for a fee significantly higher than the one Roma originally paid.
Bought For – N/A – Academy Graduate
Pellegrini has been on the club’s books since 2007, barring a brief spell at Sassuolo, which resulted in Roma buying back the Italian international, who has attracted the interest of many Premier League sides in recent months, including Arsenal, Liverpool and Man United.
Roma’s #7 will remain at the Stadio Olpico for now, as the club opted to sell Strootman instead of him, as had been suggested, but that says nothing of his long-term future, only that he is viewed as first-team player in the here and now.
The 22-year-old can pick out a final ball, make marauding runs forward and is capable of playing in tight spaces, while also possessing defensive traits that would make it hard for Roma to keep him should he continue to blossom, with Manchester United linked.
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