It's nearly the weekend, so you know what that means; it's time to dissect the Roman rumor mill. As expected, this week's dose of ridiculousness revolves around the future of Miralem Pjanic: Will he stay? Will he go? Where will he go? Who will take his spot? Will he leave his ill-fitting wardrobe behind?
As if that wasn't enough, we had to deal with some early week rumblings that Rudi Garcia was now unsettled, reportedly questioning the extent to which James Pallotta and Walter Sabatini can outfit his club for next season. While that story has died down somewhat, the stories around Pjanic's departure have shown no signs of abating.
First up, a look at their most likely suitor, Barcelona.
First off, a tip of the hat to our Barca blog for this link, which is in Spanish. However, one needn't know Castilian or Catalan to decipher that list; it is long, and it is lustrous.
Essentially, Barcelona has reportedly compiled a list of their must haves, which includes nearly every player in the world not named Cristiano Ronaldo. Just take a look at who is on their radar and what they're willing to pay:
- €50m for Mesut Özil,
- €45m for Eden Hazard
- €33m for Jack Wilshere
- €44m for Arturo Vidal
- €45m for Thomas Müller
- €45m for Paul Pogba
- €40m for David Silva
Now, they obviously won't get all those names (the list itself is over 80 players), nor would they all be ideal fits--let's not forget their relatively unsuccessful Zlatan Ibrahimovic experiment--but the point is clear, its good to be the king.
However, comb through that A-list and you'll find our very own Miralem Pjanic, whom Barca values at €20m; a relative bargain on that list. While this is generally his prescribed market value, given how much positive praise he receives around Roma, one would imagined they'd hold out for a bit more.
Given his style of play and proclivity to keep possession, Pjanic seems an ideal fit for Barcelona, but he's certainly carving out a niche for himself around Trigoria, so if you had any doubt, this is the storyline to follow this summer.
While we sweat out Pjanic's future, Garcia attempted to put out the fire immediately, offering what he sees as a blueprint to keep the Bosnian in town:
Miralem is a remarkable talent and there has never been any question, early in the season or in the winter, about him leaving. He has understood, he knows how very important he is to me in my midfield. What matters is that we can offer him a project for the height of his talent and there are all the elements to make him stay
We've said it countless times this season, but, man, Rudi can talk a good game. In three short sentences, Garcia managed to encapsulate Pjanic's importance to his plans, while fluffling the kids ego by conflating his talent with Roma's own grand ambitions. However, both men have towed a politically correct line, saying just enough to remain ambiguous yet interested, so the question of whether or not Garcia's words will hold any sway is up for debate.
The strangest thing about these rumors, though, is that when they sprang up last season, the prevailing notion was that Roma couldn't possibly hang onto these types of players, let alone reinforce the squad, without Champions League football.
Well, they've got that now, but apparently, Roma needs to win it every year to be considered worthy of someone like Pjanic....Football is frustrating sometimes, isn't it?
Speaking to his own future, Garcia chimed in:
I hope that the future will allow me to stay for a long time at Roma to win. This club needs to do well in the Champions League every year and fight for the title in Italy. There has never been a need to convene a council of wise men because there are many leaders who do not need directives. My contract? The ambition is to build a great club. I want to get to the top. Just like James Pallotta
I'm still a bit conflicted about Garcia's future at the club--not in terms of his suitability, of course--but rather the length of his stay. Given his relatively low profile prior to coming to Roma and the unmitigated success he's experienced in his first season, the makings of a fairy tale are certainly there--a club and a coach growing in lockstep. There is perhaps no other club in the world where Garcia can have as big an impact as Roma. Garcia has come to the club at the perfect moment, where his imprint, his football and his philosophies can pair with Pallotta's finances to create a behemoth.
However, on the other hand, he has no real deep-seated allegiance to the city, so if PSG, for instance, came calling one day, could he resist a call to his homeland?
We'll see, he's Roma's at the moment and he's saying and doing all the right things, and at this point, it's really up to Sabatini and Pallotta; can they give Rudi what he needs year-in-year-out to keep up with Juve? Does that include Miralem Pjanic?
What do you think, are both men long for Roma?