As one of the richest clubs in Italian football, AS Roma has access to some of the better players around the world. The club is often active during the transfer window, and while not all of their signings have been home runs, a solid chunk of players have ended up helping the club tremendously.
Let’s take a look at the five best transfer signings in club history and how those players fared with AS Roma. Before we start the list, some of the players who just missed the cut include Juan Jesus, Edin Dzeko, Lorenzo Pellegrini, and Gabriel Batistuta.
Brazilian native Paulo Falcao started his professional career as part of the Internacional youth program, then made his professional debut with the club in 1972. Falcao ended up being a staple for (Brazil’s) Inter, making nearly 350 league appearances and scoring 48 goals.
Because of his lengthy tenure, Falcao attracted a lot of attention from European clubs, and Roma signed him to a large £650,000 contract in 1980. Falcao scored 22 goals in more than 100 Serie A appearances with Roma. The club won its second Serie A title (1982-83) thanks to Falcao, and they also won the Coppa Italia in 1981 and 1984.
Radja Nainggolan is a product of Belgium, coming up with both the Germinal Beerschot and Piacenza youth programs. With the latter club, he made his professional debut in 2006, making a total of 71 appearances before heading to Cagliari. Nainggolan was sent to AS Roma on loan, which was eventually made permanent in the same year (2014), and it ended up being a great deal for the club.
Between his loan stint and his permanent tenure, Nainggolan made more than 150 Serie A appearances and netted 28 goals. In each year of his Roma career, Nainggolan was named to the Serie A Team of the Year, and he was named the club’s Player of the Season in 2016-17. While his only Serie A title came with Inter Milan, Nainggolan was able to help keep Roma toward the top of the standings.
There’s only one player on the list that actually hails from Italy, and that’s Vincenzo Montella. Montella debuted as a professional in 1990 with Empoli where he spent his first five playing years. He then joined Genoa for a brief period before making his way to Sampdoria where he made more than 80 appearances while netting 54 goals. In 1999, Montella was acquired by Roma and would be under contract for the final decade of his career.
Montella spent a good chunk of 2007 and 2008 being loaned out to Fulham and Sampdoria but was able to make nearly 200 Serie A appearances during his Roma career. In those matches, Montella netted 83 goals while helping the club win the 2000-01 Serie A title and the 2001 Supercoppa Italia. In 2013, Montella was inducted into the AS Roma Hall of Fame as part of the club’s second class alongside Giuseppe Giannini, Attilio Ferraris IV, and Sebastiano Nela.
Bosnian-born midfielder Miralem Pjanic made his way to France as a teenager, joining the Metz youth program. He became a member of the professional ranks in 2007, appearing in 32 matches for the team before joining Lyon from 2008 to 2011. AS Roma took notice of Pjanic’s potential and decided to pay the €11 million transfer fee to acquire his services for the next five years.
Pjanic played out the entire contract with Roma, making 159 Serie A appearances and scoring 27 goals. While AS Roma didn’t win the Serie A title during his tenure, he did earn some individual accolades. This included being named to the Serie A Team of the Year while also earning the title of Bosnian Footballer of the Year. At his best, Pjanic scored 10 goals in a Serie A season while adding another two in continental play.
The top spot on the list belongs to Aldair, a defender who was a staple of Brazil’s national team for more than a decade. He began his playing career with Flamengo in his native country, and after four years moved to Portugal to join Benfica. It was a short stint for Aldair, who after 22 matches was acquired by Roma and was given a total of €9 million for his services.
Aldair became a cornerstone for Roma after the 1990 transfer. He remained with the club for 13 years, and during that time appeared in 330 league matches. Despite his position, he was able to score 14 goals. Aldair was a member of the 2000-01 Serie A-winning squad, as well as the 1990-91 Coppa Italia-winning squad. He was named to the FIFA XI in 2000 and was inducted into the AS Roma Hall of Fame in 2012.