We'll shift the focus from yesterday's Alessio Cerci v Luis Muriel debate and turn to an actual signing, Roma's reported €10m capture of Fenerbahce midfielder Salih Uçan. Multiple sources in the Italian media report that the two clubs have agreed in principle to a deal for the 20-year-old attacking midfielder, who will then sign a three-year deal.
While the Istanbul-based club initially held a firm €15m line, Walter Sabatini was able to, presumably through a haze of tobacco smoke, whittle the Turkish giants down to €10 million. Turkey, incidentally, is renowned for the quality of their tobacco--this must've been a dream negotiation for Big Walt.
However, that doesn't mean this deal is done and dusted, as a small sticking point regarding the payment schedule remains unresolved. Roma, in typical fashion, want to spread out the ten million over three years, while Fenerbahce would prefer two installments. Nike or not, old habits die hard in Roma.
So who is Salih Uçan and why should we be stoked about this move?
Well, first things first, the hair. Uçan's afro puff will be a nice compliment to Radja Nainggolan's collection of Mousterian bowl-inspired head carvings. But beyond follicle contributions, what does this 20-year-old bring to Roma, assuming this becomes official? (Remember, rumors don't become real until we see the PDF)
Well, how about some added size to the midfield? Ucan, again, only 20, already stands well over six-feet, with room to presumably add to that frame, both in size and stature. The days of David Pizarro and Matteo Brighi are gone, folks. With DDR, Strootman, Ucan, and even Nainggolan, Roma finally has some hard hitters in the center of the park.
While his birth certificate is barely two decades old, don't let his age fool you, for a 20-year-old, he's awfully experienced. If we amass all his appearances for Fenerbache and Bucaspor, for whom he helped earn promotion to Turkey's top flight, Ucan has over 90 first team appearances and has also been capped for Turkey every step of the way, from the U-15s all the way to the Senior Squad. Ucan even has made a handful of Europa League appearances, scoring one goal along the way.
The point being, he's not your average, untested 20-year-old.
So, where exactly would he fit into Roma's rotation next season? Well, since reliable stats are a bit hard to come by for the Turkish league (at least in English), we'll rely on our eyes and ears.
Given his size and endurance, Ucan is largely heralded as a box-to-box midfielder, but check the video below, and you can see that he throws a bit of agility, not to mention a deft touch, into the mix. He's also remarkably effective at creating and moving in space, so, tactically and intellectually speaking, his transition should be seamless.
So in that light, Ucan should be able to fill in for any of Roma's midfielders, though he'd probably be, for the time being, best suited to fill in for Nainggolan or Kevin Strootman. He brings a little bit of everything to Roma's midfield, which, for the short term, should help him see the field as a reserve, while hopefully carving out his own identity for the future.
Either way, getting a player as talented and as laden with potential as Uçan for €10m is a fantastic first strike in Roma's summer campaign. James Palotta's regime has shown no reservations in spending money on youth, and Uçan might be as talented as any of the prodigies Sabatini has captured over the past 24 months. This is good business no matter how the future unfolds, if these players flourish and they can hang onto them, Roma is locked and loaded for the next decade. If they can't retain their services, the players are talented enough to reap substantial profits on the transfer market.
Either way, Salih Uçan is yet another bullish stock in Roma's impressive portfolio of football investments, you know, provided that it actually becomes real.