Adriano x Roma x the End of the World As We Know It

The voices from Brazil are overlapping so harmoniously with those from Rome that from the pitch perfect choir is born the legitimate assumption that Adriano and Roma is happening. So let's make the case for him. He's still relatively young at 28, and we all understand instinctively what that means: no fresh faced kid with ten years ahead of him, but no dinosaur whose joints will lock up in the middle of a game either. Financially he's the most attractive alternative on the market. As a free agent, he could even be making a more than respectable sum of money without it burdening Roma's books all too much (assuming he stays within, or even way short of the wag cap). At Flamengo he makes the rough equivalent of €1 million a year, and that coupled with the fact that there would be no transfer fee attached means he can get a substantial bump in wages and still makes sense from Roma's end. But that's not what this is about. This is about all that other stuff. The monkey on his back, the demons that haunts him.

He was sent out of Inter, not once, but twice for acting unprofessional. This much is true, and this much is undeniable. But rather than brand him an incurable fuckup, I would prefer to look at what caused his growth to stop than merely lazily stating that it did. What do we see if we look deeper into the muddy waters (or is it caipirinha?)? His father died a couple of years ago, and the only thing everyone - from Moratti to his agent, finishing off with his most ardent critics - seems to agree on is that it affected him. I know there are people who say tough luck to that, and that it's no excuse to throw away your undeniable talent, or behave like a fool. Please choose your argument according to your personal level of exasperation. I get all of that, and I agree too. But as someone who've also felt that loss, I empathize here and understand. Even if I had no real football talent to throw away, nor started boozing as a coping mechanism, I understand.

At the same time I realize that there are plenty of people in the world who deal with such personal tragedies, and deal with it a whole lot better than he has. That he should do so, not to save himself, but because he's a privileged football player that earns millions is the point at which start I veering off. It doesn't work like that, life doesn't work like that. The ability of fans to feel offended that he's being paid so much money to kick a ball and dares have his personal tragedies affect that is truly a ridiculous one. The not-so-subtle undercurrents of anti-rich/anti-footballer sentiments infects the discourse, and conversely dehumanizes it by a warped attempt to inspect the man beneath. But it fails to do so, and demands from Adriano to be mechanical and shut out things he probably battles on a much more profound and real level than on the football pitch.

Perhaps breaking up from Inter was the clean slate he needed. It became an infected situation which couldn't carry on. Much, all, was through Adriano's own fault, but that's irrelevant for this particular argument. His success for Flamengo does suggest something along those lines. Scoring 113 goals in 30 games (or 36 in 42, whatever it was) doesn't fit the narrative of a player broken down and lost forever. For the fatalist argument to be very convincing, he would need to be a bust in Flamengo as well. Then we could talk about things being ruined beyond all repair, but this past year in Flamengo fascinates. It tantalizes and attracts me, perhaps even against better judgment. It whispers things in my ear suggestively and leaves an impression deep enough so that common sense skepticism can't merely brush it away flippantly.

Technically it's hard to argue against the addition of a 90 kilo striker whose persona and very name is a not very subtle hint towards something awfully powerful about to happen. What that is precisely, we don't know, just that it can happen and that if it does it will be a mighty show of force. It could just as well be a shot from 30 meters, a dribbling dance and cool finish leaving repentant defenders in his wake, as it can be the locker room being torn apart from within. Figuratively of course, but let's not be too quick to dismiss the literal meaning taking place as well. The question is whether this straight life can be upheld. Evidently being in Rio rather than Milano worked, either by putting him back in his home, or simply by pulling him out of a bad situation in a destructive environment. So will it last  in Rome, whatever it was? We can discuss the merits and temptations of Rome's night life, but it seems like a waste of time. If I wanted to party and lead a life of Dionysian tendencies, I'd go to Rio to do it. He wouldn't see anything here in Europe that he hasn't had at his disposal for the past year, is all I'm saying.

If I weren't so emotionally attached to Roma, I would watch with fascination as this experiment unfolds and breaks preconceptions in its wake. Whether it'd be those that took for granted one of the more talented players of the past decade was a hopelessly lost cause, or those that says Roma could cut corners and afford to gamble like this...well, we'll find out together. I am hopeful, if fully aware of precisely what could happen. If we're rolling the dice, we might as well hope for a winning outcome.