If there’s one thing certain in the world of football, it’s that Arjen Robben is going to cut inside from the right wing and unleash a shot with his left foot.
But when Bayern Munich came to the Stadio Olimpico and pillaged Roma on Tuesday, Ashley Cole looked as if he hadn’t gotten the memo.
Bear in mind that the two are former team-mates from their Chelsea days. Cole, however, looked confounded every time Robben ran at him with the ball in the 7-1 thrashing.
By half-time, boss Rudi Garcia had seen enough. He hooked the 33-year-old in favor of Jose Holebas and an inquisition into Cole’s future at Roma has since begun.
The ex-England international is widely expected to be dropped for Saturday’s Serie A contest with Sampdoria and talk of replacing him completely has kicked off.
According to Gazzetta dello Sport, Newcastle’s Davide Santon is in the crosshairs of Roma boss Rudi Garcia to step in and take the reins at left-back.
Since leaving inter for Tyneside in the summer of 2011 a return to his homeland at some point has long been rumoured, though he has always maintained he is happy at Newcastle.
Beyond this, Santon is a long-time target for the Giallorossi and even admitted during the summer that the capital club had been following him.
Garcia is said to be a keen admirer of the 23-year-old, who boasts a wealth of experience despite his age and is highly regarded among top clubs in Italy.
Yet, there are a number of questions that arise from Roma’s reported interest in Santon, the first concerning Cole and whether the club would give up on him so soon.
Cole is still adapting to a new system and taking on a player as dynamic as Robben – not to mention the entire Bayern Munich side – is a monumental task for any defender.
Meanwhile the former Chelsea man is on a two-year deal worth a reported €2.3 million per season, putting him in the top 10 earners at the club.
It’s likely Cole would have to go entirely to make room for Santon, as the club wouldn’t want to carry his contract should he be sitting on the bench.
Then there is the issue of convincing Newcastle to part ways with Santon, which no club has yet been able to do – though renowned Roma director of sport Walter Sabatini may like his chances.
Signing Santon would give Roma a fresh start at left-back, a problem position for years now at the Stadio Olimpico, though their prospects for doing so remain unclear.
A decision to move on quickly from Cole would have to be made to enable the operation to begin with, and to date Santon has been a tough get for suitors as Newcaslte have held firm.