After watching Marquinhos, an 18 year old, play 180 minutes at centerback in Serie A, I made a rather bold prognostication:
"Marquinhos will play in El Clasico one day. I don't know on which side exactly, but he will. These are the performances of a child who's now played nine top flight matches in his career. Not even the sky can hold him."
To say he's been phenomenal for a defender would be apt; to say he's been phenomenal for an 18 year old wouldn't even move the air above the very surface, much less scratch it. Ivan Piris has been garnering much praise, but that's because he went from shit-on-a-stick to "Hey, he's been pretty good." in a jiffy - expectations are everything. The problem with Marquinhos is he sauntered in and became the cat's PJs in a matter of not days, not weeks, but minutes. One chance, and all of a sudden, he's Roma's number 1 CB. Not even a matter of being continuously impressed, but so good, so quickly, it became expectation, much in the same way DDR and Totti haven't been offered anthologies in these parts. He just is. He could arguably be shoved the most credit for Roma's turnaround in late October and through November. He's the bastardized test tube lovechild of Fabio Cannavaro and Juan if there ever was one. So to say he will play in El Clasico one day wasn't much of a stretch for anyone with working vision.
However, turns out that day may be much sooner than anticipated, because everyone wants Hos. (Obviously.) The entire footballing world has noticed the kid with braces and not enough Clearasil dominating the defensive lands. The names aren't big, but the biggest. Chelsea and Barcelona for starters. And rumors are flying that Roma has already refuted offers. One such rumor says that Roma declined Chelsea's offer of 28 million euros. The rumor might be complete nonsense, but is he a 28 million euro defender? Yup. Other such phrases include, "Puyol's heir" and "new Thiago Silva". Sky's not the limit anymore - he's already chillin' in the clouds.
And no, the suits don't get credit for this one - Leandro Castan was the one who insisted upon Marquinhos when he had yet to play a minute in the catsup and mustard. Sabatini then went out and got what may turn out to be the deal of a lifetime - loan plus 5m euro clause triggered after 8 matches of 45 minutes apiece - and the rest is a lot of good defending and indigestion whilst everyone brazenly eyes Roma's newest prized jewel.
There are a number of things to watch this mercato; this is one of those things which will need be watched for the next 15 years if Marquinhos felt like remaining in Rome for the duration of his career. Obviously no one expects that to be the case, yet like a man who's perhaps married a little bit "up," Roma will be spending their days - including this January and beyond - with Hos fending off his more dashing suitors.