Ranking every signing Tiago Pinto made for Roma

Tiago Pinto was Roma’s general manager, overseeing the duties of a sporting director, for three years from January 2021.

The former Benfica director made a total of 27 signings during his time with Roma, including three in the final transfer window of his tenure despite his upcoming departure already being public knowledge.

While Pinto had a mixed success rate, his hands were often tied by UEFA’s Financial Fair Play restrictions, meaning many of his signings were free transfers or loan deals.

Here, Giallorossi Yorkshire ranks all of Pinto’s signings – most of which came while Jose Mourinho was head coach – from worst to best.

Bryan Reynolds

Brought in on deadline day of Pinto’s first transfer window with Roma (while Paulo Fonseca was still on the touchline) after a long-term pursuit that pre-dated his arrival, Bryan Reynolds became just the second American player to make a senior appearance for the club.

There undoubtedly seemed to be something deeper behind the move; Reynolds came from the same state as Roma’s still relatively new owners, the Friedkins.

But if it was a move designed to develop exposure in a different market, it didn’t help that Reynolds was nowhere near the level required to make a lasting impact for Roma.

The right-back struggled seriously, only ever making eight appearances for the club before he was offloaded to various clubs in Belgium.

The winter signings who went on to have the smallest impact for Roma

Mady Camara

When an important player suffers a serious injury and there is time to react in the transfer market, clubs can make moves that would otherwise have been unexpected.

Those circumstances were what essentially brought Mady Camara to Roma in the summer of 2022. The midfielder joined on loan from Olympiacos to cover for fellow recent signing Georginio Wijnaldum.

Although Camara made 21 appearances for Roma, his involvement in them was largely forgettable and it never felt like he had earned the trust of Mourinho.

Eldor Shomurodov

Embed from Getty Images

A fairly significant amount of money was spent on Eldor Shomurodov in the summer of 2021, so even though the context around his status at the club quickly changed, he had to go down as a flop.

Shomurodov started fairly well in his first pre-season after arriving from Genoa, but Edin Dzeko’s unexpected exit meant Roma went into the market for a new main forward (Tammy Abraham, but more on him later), which made the Uzbekistan international’s niches less relevant.

In total, Shomurodov scored six goals for Roma from 48 appearances, making him far from their biggest attacking flop but a disappointment nonetheless, especially considering the club struggled to spend money on better players in the next few transfer windows.

Matias Vina

It is fair to say that Pinto took a relatively obscure path when Roma needed a replacement for the severely injured Leonardo Spinazzola in 2021.

Rather than sign someone already in Europe, Roma took a chance on Matias Vina from Palmeiras in Brazil.

Vina rarely showed significant strengths in any phase of play, being loaned to Bournemouth and then Sassuolo before a permanent move to Flamengo saw him return to South America.

Ainsley Maitland-Niles

Of Roma’s English players so far, Ainsley Maitland-Niles would likely have to be regarded as the least memorable.

Signed on loan from Arsenal midway through Mourinho’s first season in charge, there were hopes that his versatility would benefit a Roma squad with flaws in midfield and at right-back, but he struggled to stamp his authority in either position (mostly being deployed as a full-back) and remained a rotation player.

The following season, still on loan away from Arsenal, Maitland-Niles suffered relegation from the Premier League with Southampton.

Renato Sanches

Embed from Getty Images

The signing of Renato Sanches was something of a risk, but one that Pinto thought was worth taking. The evidence by the time of Pinto’s departure was that it wasn’t.

Shackled by a significant injury history, Sanches has struggled to gain any momentum in Rome. By the end of March, the Portugal international was still yet to last more than 45 minutes in any Serie A appearance.

Indeed, there had only been one example of him playing in consecutive league matches by the time Roma started thinking about trying to sever his loan early, which they ultimately never managed to.

Be careful taking midfielders on loan from PSG.

Georginio Wijnaldum

This was quite a big deal when it was announced. Wijnaldum had previously been an integral player for Liverpool in the Premier League and looked an exciting addition to Roma’s tiring midfield.

Ultimately, Roma never saw his best, due largely to the leg break he suffered in training early into his time at the club.

After his recovery, he made a minor impact, but did not appease the fans too much, especially due to his Feyenoord connections when that particular feud resumed in the Europa League.

So little was the interest in Wijnaldum after his loan spell, he ended up at Al-Ettifaq in Saudi Arabia straight after.

Be careful taking midfielders on loan from PSG.

Ola Solbakken

Not that much reminder was needed, but it probably speaks volumes of how bad Roma’s 6-1 loss to Bodo/Glimt in 2021 was that someone who stood out so much in it struggled to make an impact upon his subsequent move to Roma.

After a long pursuit, Roma finally signed Ola Solbakken in January 2023, but he lasted just half a season – scoring once – before being loaned away.

In theory, the addition of the winger from the Norwegian top flight on a free transfer could have been a smart move, but Solbakken – currently on loan in Japan – will have to develop before he becomes a genuine asset.

Rasmus Kristensen

Roma thought about signing Rasmus Kristensen before he went to Leeds United, but even after suffering relegation from the Premier League, the Denmark international still had the Giallorossi’s faith.

They took him on loan from Leeds in the summer of 2023, making use of a clause allowing Kristensen to change clubs after suffering the drop with the West Yorkshire side.

Hardly a standout on a technical level but at least with a decent attitude, Kristensen has received opportunities from both Mourinho and Daniele De Rossi (even though sometimes it has felt like that is for reasons best known to themselves).

Houssem Aouar

Had Houssem Aouar progressed the way that was forecasted for him when breaking through at Lyon, Roma might never have stood a chance of getting their hands on him.

But like many of the players Pinto was able to pick up, things had happened with Aouar that took him off the radar of bigger clubs.

The midfielder made a decent start after his arrival on a free transfer in the summer of 2023, but has struggled for consistency and fitness since.

Andrea Belotti

Embed from Getty Images

Earlier in his career, Andrea Belotti had been a big commodity in Italian football, but Roma signed him after the ship had sailed. Indeed, even in his last season at Torino, he failed to hit double figures of goals.

The opportunity of signing him on a free transfer in the summer of 2022 was still too good for Roma to resist, but his form in his first season made that questionable, as he failed to score at all in Serie A.

Belotti was better in some cup games and started his second season in better form before being dropped again and ending up out on loan within the next few months.


Roma’s requirement of a new left-back in 2024 led them to Angelino, a former Manchester City prospect who became available on loan from RB Leipzig after spending the first half of the season with Galatasaray.

Pinto secured the Spaniard on loan with an option to buy, which is set at a price that could represent good value for money.

Angelino has not been spectacular, but has been steady during the early stages of his Roma career. One time, he even operated as a right wing-back, demonstrating his versatility.

Zeki Celik

In a summer that contained several high-profile loans and free transfers, Zeki Celik was the only player Roma signed permanently for a fee in 2022.

Brought in to compete with Rick Karsdorp, who would endure a tumultuous season, Celik still struggled to prove himself as Roma’s answer at right-back.

The €7m man has been far from the worst player to represent the club in his position, but was facing an uncertain future until undergoing a minor resurgence under De Rossi.

Tommaso Baldanzi

It is still a bit early to say how close Tommaso Baldanzi will come to fulfilling his potential with Roma after they gave him the platform to step up from Empoli in February 2023.

Whatever happens, Pinto’s last signing for Roma was a breath of fresh air – and testament to the director’s work rate.

FFP restrictions meant Roma hadn’t spent as much as they did on Baldanzi (an eight-figure fee) for two-and-a-half years. Furthermore, much of their recent focus had been on more senior players, rather than already established prospects looking to reach the next level.

To Pinto’s credit, he worked tirelessly on his final day of employment with Roma to remove a couple of players from the squad in order to facilitate Baldanzi’s arrival on a long-term contract, offering an immediate alternative in attacking midfield to the sometimes unavailable Paulo Dybala, who just so happened to be Baldanzi’s idol.

Sardar Azmoun

Sardar Azmoun was a victim of circumstance in the first half of his debut Roma season, left out of their Europa League squad – like Kristensen – due to UEFA restrictions.

Loaned in from Bayer Leverkusen to a lukewarm reception, the Iran international quickly learned he would not be Roma’s first-choice striker.

Making do with appearances from the bench, Azmoun went on to open his account for the club with a rocket of a header.

Over time, he has made more of an impression with his hard-working performances.

Dean Huijsen

Embed from Getty Images

It was taken by some as a sign of how challenging the transfer market had become for Roma that they found themselves competing with Frosinone for the last signing of the Mourinho era.

Roma successfully hijacked a deal to take Dean Huijsen on loan from Juventus after withdrawing from the race to sign a more experienced defender like Leonardo Bonucci.

Some critics complained Roma were simply developing Juventus’ player for them, especially without an option to buy, but all Huijsen could personally be judged on were his performances during his six-month spell – and the early signs have been passable.

A wonder goal against Frosinone, for example, was a particular highlight, even though that was not his best match otherwise.

While he arrived as a relative unknown, Huijsen has attracted a lot of attention by the mid-point of his Roma loan.

Sergio Oliveira

Roma’s midfield was a mess when Mourinho took over and it took the manager a while to secure the reinforcements he needed to make it stronger.

A key step along the way was the addition of Sergio Oliveira on loan from Porto midway through the first Mourinho season. The Portuguese international wasn’t perfect, but was calmer than many of his colleagues.

Oliveira was an important part of the Europa Conference League winning squad, but was not retained on a permanent basis – which also appeared to be a sensible decision due to the value of his buying option, even though Galatasaray did get him for a lower fee.

Evan Ndicka

Roma may have been a surprise destination for Evan Ndicka when he became available on a free transfer in the summer of 2023, since he had been linked with a range of other clubs.

Despite the former Europa League winner’s pedigree, it took a bit of time for Ndicka to find his feet in the Roma backline.

However, the ex-Eintracht Frankfurt man, boosted by his success at the Africa Cup of Nations with Ivory Coast, has steadily started to improve his form.

Rui Patricio

If we rewind to Rui Patricio’s debut season at Roma, the goalkeeper could be classed as a successful signing.

His position had been problematic for the club in the post-Alisson years, but he solved it by providing more reliability than predecessors Robin Olsen and Pau Lopez.

Indeed, he even equalled the club record for the most clean sheets kept by a goalie in their debut season.

Unfortunately, Patricio’s form has gone on a slippery slope, leading to his role as Roma’s first-choice goalkeeper being scrutinised and eventually lost. He faces a free transfer exit at the end of his contract.

Mile Svilar

It has only really been after Pinto’s departure that Roma have realised what a useful acquisition Mile Svilar was.

Brought in as a new backup goalkeeper in 2022, Svilar didn’t cost Roma a cent in terms of his transfer fee after being released by Benfica – the club for whom Pinto had also signed him before in August 2017.

Opportunities were limited for Svilar during the Mourinho era, when the Portuguese coach preferred Patricio, even when the veteran’s form was declining.

All it took was a later vote of confidence from De Rossi for Svilar to take his place as Roma’s number one, delivering a series of surprising and promising performances in goal to the extent of becoming a genuine candidate to be the long-term first choice. Such a decision could save Roma millions.

Tammy Abraham

Embed from Getty Images

If this was a ranking of immediate impact, Abraham might have been near the very top. After all, he scored the most goals ever by a Roma player in their debut season at the club, which culminated in Europa Conference League success.

He had to deliver after Roma spent a transfer fee to Chelsea that could rise to club-record value in their efforts to tempt him away from the Premier League.

Sadly, Abraham struggled to back up his breakthrough season next time around and ended his second campaign – in which he scored just nine times – by suffering a serious injury to provide a further setback to his momentum.

Diego Llorente

It was a bit of an eyebrow-raiser when Roma raided Leeds United for the loan signing of Diego Llorente in January 2023, but it turned out to be a smart pickup.

Llorente coped well with the step up from a relegation battle in the Premier League to challenging for European qualification with Roma, rarely being the best player on the pitch but almost never being the worst either.

Adaptable in defence, the Spaniard earned an extension of his loan by the summer, in which he has continued to grow at the higher level.

Indeed, in his second season, Llorente has often been Roma’s most senior defender due to Chris Smalling’s injury issues.

Leandro Paredes

Roma fans remembered Leandro Paredes from the pre-Pinto era, after he was originally brought to the club under the stewardship of Walter Sabatini for a first spell before being sold by Monchi in 2017.

Some felt it was a regrettable decision at the time, but his subsequent form for Zenit, Paris Saint-Germain and Juventus was not illuminating enough for there to be a wholly positive reaction to his return in 2023.

Seven players who returned to Roma for a second spell

However, for just €4m, Roma couldn’t really go wrong by bringing back Paredes – by now a World Cup winner with Argentina – and despite not being the biggest impactor of games, he earned himself a regular starting role at the base of their midfield.

After De Rossi – the former teammate whose number 16 shirt Paredes had inherited – replaced Mourinho as manager, the Argentine’s form went up another notch.

Nemanja Matic

Nemanja Matic was a predictable Roma signing in the Mourinho era, due to them working together before at Chelsea and Manchester United.

Roma decided he was still worth bringing in ahead of Mourinho’s second season in charge, with the intention of adding some stability to their midfield.

Despite being past his prime, Matic grew comfortably into the holding midfield role for Roma and particularly flourished in the second half of the season, helping them reach the Europa League final.

He ended what became his only Roma season with a whole half century of appearances for the club, before surprising them by declaring his intention to leave and ending up with Rennes.

Matic’s departure left a sour taste, but for a free signing who was 34 by the time he first kicked a ball for Roma, he was objectively a solid squad member for the time he spent with La Magica.

Romelu Lukaku

Signing Romelu Lukaku was beyond the proportions Roma could have expected in their search for a new striker during the summer of 2023, but their patience paid off.

Towards the end of the transfer window, Roma wrapped up a loan deal with Chelsea to reunite the Belgian with Mourinho after their spells together at Stamford Bridge and with Manchester United.

This was a big deal for Roma. Although his previous season at Inter hadn’t gone to plan, he was a Scudetto winner from his original spell there.

If Chelsea hadn’t made Lukaku available on loan, Roma wouldn’t have stood a chance of meeting their asking price for his permanent signature. But after some collapsed negotiations elsewhere – for both Lukaku with other clubs and Roma with other strikers – Pinto took full advantage.

Lukaku enjoyed one of the brightest starts to a Roma career in recent memory, reaching 10 goals within 16 games, before going off the boil a bit after the turn of the calendar year.

But his goalscoring ratio has certainly been worthy of respect, especially in comparison to some other recent seasons by Roma strikers.

Stephan El Shaarawy

The signing of Stephan El Shaarawy for his first spell at Roma was a masterclass back in 2016, thanks to the impact he went on to have in the second half of that season under Luciano Spalletti.

Ever since his departure from the club in 2019, it felt like El Shaarawy wanted to come back to Roma, so Pinto made him his first signing for the club during the January 2021 transfer window, even managing to get him back from Shanghai Shenhua on a free.

El Shaarawy was a bit rusty at first, perhaps understandably, but over time proved his commitment and ability to pop up with vital, well-timed and often aesthetically pleasing goals.

Vindication came for El Shaarawy when he was awarded with another new deal by Roma in 2023, allowing him to continue his ascent up the club’s goalscoring ranking after surpassing a half century.

While the El Shaarawy Pinto brought back hasn’t been as thrilling as the original version Roma saw could be, he has delivered more than before in terms of consistency, becoming even more closely attached to the club.

Paulo Dybala

Embed from Getty Images

Roma’s inspiration. The man who puts ‘magic’ into La Magica. And yet we should never take it for granted that Dybala became a Roma player.

After a decorated spell with Juventus, Dybala became available on a free transfer in the summer of 2022. Ordinarily, Roma wouldn’t have been expected to compete for his signature. That ship seemed to have sailed when he left Palermo for Juventus all those years ago.

However, with other clubs concerned about his injury record or wage demands, things unbelievably fell into place for Roma to become Dybala’s next club. Like Lukaku a year later, he was welcomed like a hero.

During his debut season, which featured a World Cup win in the middle, Dybala dragged Roma up when they needed a spark. Their top scorer, his goal contributions often changed results in Roma’s favour, whether they were classy finishes, more instinctive ones, calm penalties or clever assists.

Yes, he missed some games as was always expected. However, the pros of Dybala have always outweighed the cons during his time at Roma, where he has also felt at home.

Despite having a relatively affordable release clause for other clubs, Roma retained Dybala’s services for a second season, which included his first hat-trick for the club against Torino and another double-figures goal haul, even though he was sometimes having to play further out wide within De Rossi’s new formation.

Dybala has delivered back to the Roma faithful who welcomed him like a hero.

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.