On April 15th, 2011, a group of American investors acquired the majority stake in the glorious Italian club AS Roma. The agreement envisaged the passage of the control package, equal to 67% of the capital, to the hands of an American group (60%) and UniCredit (40%).
That was the moment in which Sensi’s era was over.
Since then, the AS Roma world has changed. Thomas Di Benedetto decided to leave the team and another wealthy American investor, James Pallotta, to increase his stake in the club.
Although that change of ownership represented a pivotal moment for the Giallorossi (for the first time since 1927 the owner of the club was not an Italian businessman) the performances of the team have been controversial.
Today I want to focus on the transfer market side and the American way to do business since 2011. In particular, I want to analyze the so-called “Record Departures”, those deals that the AS Roma new ownership has sealed for various reasons. Although it is almost impossible to assess if the footballers that I am going to mention were sold to replenish the AS Roma accounts or just because the strategy of the management or of the coaches appointed was forecasting these departures, I will make a list of gross amounts that the club has been able to collect over the years.
Let’s start with the 2011-12 transfer market session. In that summer the Giallorossi sold the Montenegrin star Mirko Vucinic to Juventus for €15 million and the Parisian offensive midfielder Jeremy Menez to PSG for €8m. Vucinic made 202 appearances, scoring 64 goals and 28 assists in the capital of Italy. The creative French man, instead, experienced several ups and downs during his adventure in Italy but played 114 games with the Giallorossi scoring 12 times and 22 assists. These are the two most relevant transactions that Pallotta approved in that period, a double deal that brought €23 million in the AS Roma coffers.
In 2012-13 the only major departure was that of the Italian striker Fabio Borini. Roma decided to close the deal with Liverpool FC for a €13.3 million fee. Borini played only 26 games with the Lupi but he performed quite well scoring 10 goals.
In the 2013-14 season, Pallotta gave his green light to his trusted sporting director Walter Sabatini to seal four major departures. I am talking about those of Marquinhos, Lamela, Osvaldo, and Krkic. The Brazilian youngster was a phenomenal transfer deal. Sabatini convinced PSG to spend €31.4 million for the talented defender.
The beloved Argentinian winger Erik Lamela probably was the most suffered sale that Sabatini completed. El Coco, a nickname that the Argentinian fans gave to the youngster, was sold to Tottenham Hotspurs for €30m. After several misunderstandings between the club and the striker, Pablo Daniel Osvaldo left Rome for a €15.1m fee paid by Southampton. Bojan Krikic’s story has been weird though. The talented forwarder was supposed to be a phenomenon coming from Barcelona but he constantly underperformed during his experiences in Italy with the Giallorossi and AC Milan. Sabatini was able to send him back to the Blaugrana for €13 million. In that period Roma banked €89.5m.
The 2014-15 transfer market window is sadly recalled by the Roma fans for the departure of the Moroccan defender Mehdi Benatia to Bayern Munich (€28 million). The agent of the player decided to start a verbal clash with Walter Sabatini and the Lupi were forced to sell the footballer.
Alessio Romagnoli (€25 million) and Andrea Bertolacci (€20m) were sold to Milan in the 2015-16 season. Gervinho departed to China for €18m. However, the Giallorossi also decided to sell the French defender Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa to Lyon for €9.4m and completed Mattia Destro’s deal with Bologna for €8.5m. The total gross earning in this period of reference was €80.9 million.
In the 2016-17 transfer market session, the departure of the Bosnian star Miralem Pjanic was absorbed quite well by the AS Roma fans. Juventus decided to pay the release clause set on the player (€32 million) and the Lupi couldn’t do much to convince the midfielder to remain in Rome. However, the club also completed several other negotiations cashing-in for Ljajic (€8.5m), Dodo (€7.8m), Sanabria (€7.5m), and Falque (€5.8m). The gross revenue generated from these major transactions was €61.6 million.
The current transfer market session cannot be evaluated at this time, although Roma seems to go ahead with his transfer market strategies. Jim Pallotta believes that a club needs to be financially healthy and the revenue from player trading is definitely a major source of wellness for his club. In light of what I have said above, solely considering a few major deals, Roma’s revenue from player trading totaled €296.3 million.
I am not here to assess if Pallotta’s method to manage the club is efficient or beneficial for the sake of the Giallorossi but I focussed only on a way to do business that is not sporadic but a real trend.
Can Roma reach the glory going ahead with this business model? Only time can tell.