The players Roma signed on free transfers in the last 15 years – and how they fared

With the coronavirus pandemic having an effect on finances across the football world, clubs will have to be shrewd with how they spend their money this summer.

Few more so than Roma, for whom funds already tend to be limited. The club have had to make investments in cheaper talent recently – some successfully, others not – and with around €40m needed to keep both Chris Smalling and Henrikh Mkhitaryan, it would be prudent for Gianluca Petrachi to scour the free market.


Indeed, Roma have been heavily linked with Chelsea winger Pedro, who is in the final year of his contract at Stamford Bridge, as a replacement for Mkhitaryan. Mario Gotze, who is set to be released by Borussia Dortmund, is another option.

Meanwhile, Tottenham defender Jan Vertonghen, also soon to be a free agent, has been suggested as the man to fill the void at centre-back if Smalling leaves.

Not every free transfer in Roma history has worked out, but sometimes they have got it right. Only counting those who made at least one senior appearance, here are the contrasting fortunes of all the players signed by the club on free deals in the last 15 years.

Ivan Marcano (2018)

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Should Roma wrap up the signing of a free agent this summer, they will hope to fare better than the last man to enter on such terms.

The only free transfer that Monchi made as sporting director of Roma, there was hope that the experienced Ivan Marcano could have helped their issues in defence.

The left-sided centre-back had been a key figure in the preceding years at Porto, but he failed to adapt to Italian football, and ultimately left after just one season.

Seydou Keita (2014)

When Roma brought Seydou Keita to the club in 2014, it was the third time in a row that the midfielder had moved teams on a free transfer. The experience and composure he brought to the midfield, though, would have been worth paying for.

Despite his increasing years, Keita proved a reliable member of the squad, becoming one of the captains of the group. The former Barcelona star gave the club two strong years of service, before leaving, once again, on a free transfer.

Ashley Cole (2014)

Signed in the same summer as Keita, Ashley Cole came with much promise as the first Englishman to represent the club, but was found to be far past his peak.

Perhaps underestimating the challenge of playing for Roma, the left-back was eventually kept out of the team by Jose Holebas, cutting short the two-year deal he had signed with the club so he could leave for the MLS instead.

Urby Emanuelson (2014)

This summer, Roma are linked with taking Giacomo Bonaventura on a free transfer when his contract with AC Milan expires. That’s exactly the same move that Urby Emanuelson made in 2014, but it was a forgettable spell.

The Dutchman only signed an initial one-year contract, but didn’t even last that long – making just two appearances before being sent on loan to Atalanta in the next January transfer window.

Emanuelson has since played in Yorkshire, making a solitary appearance for Sheffield Wednesday in 2017, before returning to his native Holland with Utrecht.

Maicon (2013)

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Ahead of Rudi Garcia’s first season as Roma boss, Brazilian full-back Maicon was brought in after leaving Manchester City. He had grown into one of the world’s most effective attacking right-backs during his previous stint in Italy with Inter Milan, and even though he didn’t hit quite the same heights in Rome, he was still a popular player.

Even in his 30s, Maicon continued to roam up and down the flanks, particularly impressing during his first season at Roma. He remained for two more, before being released in 2016.

Gabriel Heinze (2011)

One of several Spanish-speaking players brought in for Luis Enrique’s sole season in charge of Roma, Gabriel Heinze arrived with a wealth of experience, having followed a career path that had taken him to the likes of Manchester United and Real Madrid.

The defender featured fairly prominently under Enrique, earning an extension to his one-year contract due to an automatic appearance clause – but he departed ahead of the following season, returning to Argentina to sign for Newell’s Old Boys after terminating his Roma deal.

Stefano Guberti (2009)

Two years had passed since Stefano Guberti’s last Serie A appearance when Roma signed the winger in 2009. Guberti had been relegated with Ascoli, spending 18 months in Serie B with them before joining fellow second-tier side Bari on a short-term deal.

Despite his lack of action at the top level, Roma decided to bring him in – but he was loaned out to Sampdoria just six months later. He never played for the Giallorossi again.

Adrian Pit (2007)

Originally signed on a short-term deal after leaving Swiss side AC Bellinzona, Romanian midfielder Adrian Pit found little space in the Roma first team. Loan spells to Pisa and Triestina did little to resurrect his fading hopes of making it in Italy, and he returned to his home country in 2010.

Shabani Nonda (2005)

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The 2004-05 season had been a nightmare for Roma, and with activity in the transfer market restricted the following summer, they had to strike early to acquire Shabani Nonda after his release by Monaco – where he had averaged nearly a goal every other game.

The striker did not quite manage that average at Roma, scoring four goals in just 15 appearances, before being loaned to Blackburn for the following season. He was subsequently sold to Galatasaray.

Samuel Kuffour (2005)

In the same summer, Ghanaian centre-back Samuel Kuffour came to Roma to end an association with Bayern Munich that had lasted longer than a decade and brought him 14 trophies. Despite making more than 30 appearances in his first season in Italy, Kuffour was not able to replicate the success he had had with Bayern, and left after just one year.

Rodrigo Taddei (2005)

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Of the three players signed for free in 2005 that went on to play for the first team, Rodrigo Taddei had the most enduring success. After leaving Siena, the Brazilian wide man made an instant impression in the capital, registering more than 50 appearances in his first season.

Taddei continued to impress for nearly a decade with Roma, establishing himself as a key player. When he left in 2014, he had made just shy of 300 appearances for the club, in a spell which had seen him win the Coppa Italia twice and the Supercoppa Italiana once.

Such achievements made Taddei one of the shrewdest signings Roma have made in the 21st Century.

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