Mattia Destro was meant to explode up front for Roma this season, but the actors in the production haven’t followed the script up to this point.
A superb run of form after recovering from a significant injury saw him hit 13 goals in 20 appearances last season, setting the stage for the Italian’s consecration this time around.
This garnered strong interest from the Premier League, where Chelsea, Tottenham Hotspur and Arsenal were all heavily linked with making a move for his services.
However, Roma chose to protect one of their young stars, refusing in no uncertain terms to deal with suitors.
But the season that’s followed hasn’t gone to plan. Destro has scored four Serie A goals in seven starts and five appearances from the bench. In Roma’s doomed Champions League campaign, the 23-year-old played only 110 minutes of football, hardly having an impact.
Giallorossi boss Rudi Garcia continues to deploy Francesco Totti as the first choice striker, despite the Italian’s 38 years of age and status as a false nine rather than a centre forward.
This lack of continuity has seemingly plagued Destro. On many occasions he hasn’t looked sharp – like a young player who has spent too much time on the bench.
And there’s been mental fallout as well. Destro has been visibly frustrated when he does get on the pitch, an unwelcome sign for a player who hasn’t always had an exemplary attitude.
According to Calciomercato, Roma want to see change – or will ship him out come summer, reinvesting the ‘arrogant’ Destro’s transfer fee in a new centre forward.
Doing so would represent a massive departure from the club’s previous stance on Destro. President James Pallotta has always been a staunch backer of the ex-Siena man, while Garcia has constantly referred to him as Roma’s future up front.
If Roma were to come to the decision to sell Destro, it could be a situation of benefit to the Premier League clubs linked with him – though probably not Chelsea and Arsenal.
Each look set for strikers with the likes of Diego Costa, Loic Remy, Olivier Giroud and Danny Welbeck hanging around, though a fellow London side could use Destro.
Tottenham continue to struggle for goals with Roberto Soldado not panning out, while Emmanuel Adebayor remains a walking enigma.
Harry Kane is quite promising but will need help carrying the load, something a marginally older Destro would be well capable of doing for Spurs.
Regarding Roma, it seems the club will need to change the way Destro is handled for him to improve. Garcia has hesitated to phase out an ageing legend in Totti to make way for him.
Any vexation the youngster has is understandable in this light – and Roma must be willing to take their share of responsibility in order to get him back on track and in the right mindset.
But should the parties continue not to see eye-to-eye, it’s entirely possible Destro will seek pastures new with the club’s blessing – for a price, of course.
Whether that fresh start would be in the Premier League remains to be seen, though the situation is one that is well worth monitoring, with Spurs potentially in line to land a talent that has been mismanaged by his current employers in some regard.