Roma Rumor Roundup: Rafael, Benatia and The Next Ronaldinho?

Enrico Locci

While not yet officially summer, June is here and with it comes the silly season's first week of madness. Without a manager in tow, Roma has still managed to do some window shopping. So let's take a look at the most recent rumors.

We're still a few weeks away from the official start of summer, but the football silly season is already in full swing. Just how important a time is this for a professional football club? Important enough that a team without a manager, hell, a team down to their fourth or fifth choice, is in the thick of the hunt for several players, while simultaneously attempting to shed salary of their own. Making a chaotic scene even crazier, the man ostensibly pulling the strings on all these moves, Franco Baldini, might be orchestrating his own exit.

Depending on one's religious views, Sunday is reserved as a day of rest, but when football is your religion, the market waits for no man.

On to the rumors.

Arrivederci


Maarten Stekelenburg

We touched upon him briefly in our defensive review, but what was speculation is increasingly becoming reality. Our disappointing Dutchman seems bound for Southwest London in a €3.5m move to Fulham, where he nearly landed in January. So although it took five more months than expected, Stek appears to have found a new home.

Last week we looked back at our defensive preview from August, in that original piece I tried to make parallels between Stek and Edwin van der Saar: both started at Ajax, both started for the Netherlands in the World Cup, both made fairly big moves to Italian clubs, both were eventually usurped at those clubs, though Juve fans got the benefit of replacing him with Buffon, and both found their way to Fulham.

For van der Saar, his five years at Craven Cottage were a launch pad to the greatest stretch of his career, 2005-2011 at Manchester United. So time will tell if Stekelenburg's career follows this same trajectory, but by most accounts Stekelenburg is a good guy and solid teammate, he just never fully acclimated himself to life in Italy.

Nicolas Burdisso

There was never any doubt about this man's ability to acclimate to life in Italy, his performance on the pitch or his love for the crest. But, if the past few years haven't proven it to you, football is a business and when you're a 32 year old central defender with no real place in the starting XI, and youre making €4.5m per year through 2014, you become expendable.

Making matters worse (for Burdisso), his wages might prove exorbitant for any Italian club, making his release and eventual Bosman to Boca Juniors more likely. But if you're like me, you probably have teams in other leagues that you follow to a certain extent, though never with the fervor of Roma, for me its Boca, so it would be great to see Nico finish up where he began.

Nevertheless, as much financial sense as this might make, it's a sad end for a player who has availed himself quite well for Roma

Daniele De Rossi

In a rumor that will never die, DDR is once again being mentioned in a big money move to England. Last season it was Manchester City, this time around Chelsea, who are prepared to pony up roughly €11.5m to secure the services of Roma's 29 year old, battle hardened midfielder.

I'll refer you to our piece from November on the pros and cons of selling De Rossi, but should this move actually come to fruition, we'll have plenty more to say. Suffice it to say, it was an incredibly disappointing season for De Rossi, but selling a born and bred Roman is never an easy task.

Stay tuned on this one.

Michael Bradley

As an ardent Bradley supporter, this move would disappoint me, but his place in the starting XI was always controversial and if Roma can upgrade, so be it. But at this point in time, newly promoted Hellas Verona is pining after Roma's bald beauty.

Pablo Osvaldo

Everyones favorite feast-or-famine, goal scoring, Johnny Depp look alike seems all but assured to leave Roma this summer, with the latest destination being Liverpool. It's hard what to make of this guy, he obviously loves playing here, but he's been a headache since day one...so let's let someone else unwrap this enigma.

Salary Dumps

No links on this one, but Roma has several players whose salaries could be trimmed from the bill prior to the start of next season-ranging from Rodrigo Taddei's €1.9m to Simone Perrotta's €2.5m, as well as the salary obligations owed to Matteo Brighi, Jose Angel and Marco Borriello. All told, Roma could shed upwards of €10m.

Ciao!

The market works both ways of course, so let's take a quick peak and who may or may not be winding their way to Rome

Mehdi Benatia

Udinese's Moroccan defender appears headed to manager-less Roma for nearly €10m. The benefits of this move are obvious, Benatia, 26, is experienced and finished this season as one of Serie A's best defenders.

The problem rests within the fact that he is solely a central defender, a spot in Roma currently on lockdown between Marquinhos and Leandro Castan. Benatia is an awfully good defender to keep on the bench, so this move might have strong implications for the future.

But it's certainly a good problem to have, Benatia is a very astute and active defender.

Rafael

With Stekelenburg on his way out the door and Gianluca Curci looking bound for Bologna, Roma are in need of a first choice keeper, though here is where you could argue that Bogdan Lobont deserves a shot.

Nevertheless, Roma are keen on the Santos keeper. Rafael, 23, is a young and not especially tall keeper, standing at 6'1''...so I wouldn't necessarily go proclaiming Rafael as the keeper of the future just yet.

Adil Rami

This move is probably dependent upon Benatia, but Roma and Rami have been mentioned in the same breath in recent days. Rami, a central defender most recently of Valencia, would come with a price tag of €10-€12m, but the links to him don't appear quite as strong as those with Benatia.

The Next Ronaldinho

Though the mentions to Atletico Mineiro midfielder Bernard aren't quite as strong, they've been popping up in recent days. Bernard fits the Sabatini bill to a T: he's young, South American and has an impressive array of YouTube highlight reels

I'm of the mindset that stockpiling young, cost controlled, high-upside assets is a smart move. In that vein, Bernard would be a shrewd purchase, but Roma must fend off the likes of Juventus and Dortmund for his signature.

So that's about it for this rendition of the Roma Rumor Roundup, there are also rumors of Jose Angel returning, Marco Borriello being outrighted to Genoa and tenuous links to Davide Astori.

Shopping without a manager, and perhaps even a director, isn't an ideal situation, so let's hope news breaks this week on both those fronts.

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