Players who joined Roma as a reigning league champion with another club

The arrival of Georginio Wijnaldum at Roma in 2022 will represent a rare instance when the club have signed a player who is fresh from winning a league title.

Although not classed by PSG as a key player, Wijnaldum made his contribution to their Ligue 1 success in the 2021-22 season, which was his first with the club. His medal will sit alongside equivalents from the Eredivisie and Premier League from earlier in his career.

For a club who finished sixth in the same Serie A season, acquiring a player of Wijnaldum’s pedigree is – in theory – a statement capture.

Over the years, it has sadly seemed more frequent for Roma to lose players to title-winning clubs, rather than take them in the opposite direction. It was the case for the likes of Marquinhos, Medhi Benatia, Antonio Rudiger, Miralem Pjanic and Edin Dzeko – and that’s just within the last decade.

In terms of their own signings, Roma have often had to pick players from clubs with less success, providing them with the next step. For example, Gabriel Batistuta joined from Fiorentina with the explicit intention of ending his long wait for a Scudetto – and it worked immediately.

But sometimes, Roma have been able to attract an existing title-winning signing of their own, despite only claiming the Serie A crown three times themselves. The ambition of the club and lure of the city have proved to be appealing to certain targets who have encountered success elsewhere.

Unfortunately, signings from reigning league champions haven’t always worked out – take Javier Pastore and Thomas Vermaelen as two examples – but nevertheless, Roma have been able to bring in some squad members with a winning mentality from elsewhere to boost their ranks.

Here are five examples (sticking to players from Europe’s top five leagues).

Leonardo Spinazzola

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During the summer of 2019, after a sixth-place finish in Serie A, Roma entered negotiations over a swap deal with champions Juventus, who had finished 24 points better off in the 2018-19 campaign.

While letting go of academy product Luca Pellegrini, Roma took fellow left-back Leonardo Spinazzola in return – and certainly got the better side of the deal.

Spinazzola had spent his entire professional career up to that point owned by Juventus, but only debuted for them the season before after multiple loan spells away. He played 10 times in their title-winning campaign after recovering from an ACL injury, competing with Alex Sandro.

However, Juventus opted to cash in on Spinazzola that summer, when he was 26 years old. Roma managed to bring him in to eventually succeed Aleksandar Kolarov. Despite a fairly rocky start and the risk of a January exit midway through his debut season, Spinazzola proved himself after then-coach Paulo Fonseca began using a back-three formation.

He developed into one of Roma’s most dangerous attacking threats despite being a defender, and stood out for Italy in their victorious Euro 2020 campaign before an Achilles injury.

Lucas Digne

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One of the other impactful left-backs Roma have had in recent times was Lucas Digne, who spent the 2015-16 season on loan at the club from Paris Saint-Germain.

Despite only being 22 years old at the time of his arrival, Digne had already won the Ligue 1 crown in France with PSG on two occasions. He made 15 league appearances apiece in both the 2013-14 and 2014-15 seasons in Paris before his Roma move.

In Italy, Digne was reunited with his former Lille coach Rudi Garcia, who had given the full-back his senior debut in the season after he won the Ligue 1 title there. Despite a productive season with Roma, which brought 42 appearances, Digne’s transfer never became permanent.

Nicolas Burdisso

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A player who spent the bulk of his career in Serie A, Nicolas Burdisso was brought to Italy by Inter in 2004 from Boca Juniors in his native Argentina.

The centre-back spent five seasons with Inter, with whom he won the Scudetto in every season but his debut one. The first came as a result of Juventus being stripped of the title due to the Calciopoli match-fixing scandal, before the next three were earned on their own merit.

Roma were twice runners up to Inter during that spell, but came sixth in the 2008-09 season, 21 points behind the Nerazzurri. Even so, they were able to complete a loan deal for Burdisso in August 2009, giving him his debut one day after his arrival.

Burdisso made 44 appearances in all competitions during his debut season in Rome, going on to make the move permanent before spending four more years with the club.

Julio Baptista

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Julio Baptista spent three seasons owned by Real Madrid, but only played for them in two – either side of a loan spell with Arsenal. During his final season in the Spanish capital, the attacker got his hands on the La Liga trophy.

Baptista only scored three La Liga goals in 2007-08, but that included the winner in an El Clasico fixture against Barcelona in December.

Roma were on the lookout for another forward by the end of that season, in which they had finished just three points behind champions Inter. They promptly brought in Baptista, who made some kind of initial impression.

Scoring a penalty in a Supercoppa Italiana shootout defeat to Inter on his debut, Baptista went on to score eight minutes into his second Serie A appearance of the season, although Roma would eventually lose to Palermo.

The Brazil international notably netted another winner in a derby match – this time for Roma against Lazio – that November, eventually ending his first season in Italy with 11 goals. However, only four followed the next season, before he left for Malaga halfway through his third and final campaign as a Roma player.

Joaquin Peiro

Finally, rewinding the years to a time few will remember – but worthy of a mention nonetheless – brings us to the name of Joaquin Peiro.

Aged 30 when he joined the club in 1966, Peiro brought with him a wealth of experience – so much so that he would become captain two years later.

Formerly of Atletico Madrid, he came to Italy with Torino in 1962, before joining Inter two years later. While in Milan, Peiro won back-to-back Serie A titles, as well as a European Cup and two Intercontinental Cups.

Hence, his integration into a Roma side that had finished eighth in 1965-66 was of major significance. Indeed, by the 1968-69 season, Peiro captained the club to what was their second Coppa Italia trophy.

Peiro passed away in March 2020, almost half a century after his Roma career ended. That legacy ought to be remembered.

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