Transfer Analysis: Roma's latest addition, Carles Perez
Background image: Gary Denham, CC BY-SA 2.0
Roma signed Carles Perez from Barcelona on a loan deal with an obligation to buy him permanently in the summer for an estimated €15.5 million. The forward was the third La Masia graduate sold in the January window.
Perez came a long way after joining from Espanyol's academy in 2012. Youth coaches raved about his maturity and commitment to the club. When Barcelona won the UEFA Youth League in 2017, Perez finished as the competition's second scorer with seven goals.
Promoted to the first team with Ansu Fati by former manager Ernesto Valverde, the pair were nicknamed Generation Z. Perez made five starts in 10 La Liga appearances for Barcelona, contributing a goal and two assists. He also scored in the 2-1 Champions League victory over Internazionale in December, the Catalans’ first win at the Giuseppe Meazza. The 21-year-old fit like a glove in Valverde’s plans and earned an U21 call-up for Spain. A new contract was anticipated.
Things changed under Quique Setien. The former Real Betis coach didn’t include Perez in his plans and was reportedly set to return him to the B team. Barcelona also sold Jean-Clair Todibo and Abel Ruiz to manage wage bills in an economic structure supposedly worsened by deals for Philippe Coutinho and Ousmane Dembele.
All in all, it is a big loss for Barcelona to lose three U23 players, especially Perez with no buy-back clause. The club won't miss them with high intensity but will find them difficult to replace. It's also unfair that their fate was decided by a manager with less than a month in residence. How many young players in La Masia will be discouraged by the policy shift?
Style of play
Perez played centrally for the youth teams but can also play on the right-wing. His can take on defenders, whip in crosses and execute lay-offs and cut-back passes. Repeatedly compared to Arjen Robben, he loves to cut inside and curl shots into the far side-netting. His shooting is top-notch. His defensive contribution is strictly average but not alarming.
Perez doesn't possess searing levels of pace but enough to worry defenders. Lean and low to the ground at 5'6. his center of gravity allows him to change directions without a bad touch. His strongest attributes are his vision and passing accuracy. He loves to split defenders with balls for teammates to run onto.
Still unpolished the 20-year-old is nevertheless a raw gem. His decision making in the final third needs work. He must find further ways to compensate for his aerial deficiencies.
Future at Roma
Considering his release clause was €100 million, the Giallorossi landed a bargain. While he'd love to be a number nine similar to Monaco's Wissam ben Yedder, Roma manager Paulo Fonseca is a big fan of Eden Dzeko. Perez is more likely to compete for a place on the flank.
Nicolo Zaniola is sidelined for the rest of the season but the newcomer will find competition for the role from Lorenzo Pellegrini and Justin Kluivert. The other two are more likely to emulate Zaniolo’s physicality.
Il Lupi sit fourth in the table on 39 points. Atalanta nip at their heels, just a point behind heading into the weekend action. Pushing for the Champions League spot, Perez’s performance could give Fonseca a new dimension in his attack. Time will tell whether Barcelona are made to regret this decision.