We'll take a break from the prospect countdown and focus on a player who, while firmly entrenched in Roma's present aims, has a less than certain future in the Eternal City. We're talking, of course, about Mehdi Benatia, a man for whom Paris, Manchester, Madrid, London and Barcelona have been mentioned as possible landing places this summer.
While many of those suitors have fallen by the wayside, reports surfaced earlier in the week that Chelsea had lodged a formal bid of €37.5m; a hefty bid for sure, but probably a few million short of Roma's point of no return. However, if Chelsea truly wants Benatia, I'm sure Roma could move that figure closer to the €40m mark they desire. If you've paid attention over the past decade, you're surely aware that Chelsea usually gets what they want, so a subtle negotiating tactic shouldn't erase this move, right?
Umm, yeah, not so fast.
Jose Mourinho swooped in and denied any desire to take on Serie A's best center back, claiming Chelsea are set in defense:
We're not interested. We have Cahill, Ivanovic and Zouma.We also want to integrate Christiansen into the first team with calm, who will train with us and also play some minutes in the League when it is possible. He will normally play with the youth team, but he will train with the first team. I think we are fine as we are; we are well set in defence.
One can never tell with The Special One, but ‘we are well set in defence' is, by silly season standards, a pretty definitive statement. With the Premiership season only three days away, Roma may have been saved by the bell on this one, much as they were with Manchester City's late summer acquisition of Eliaquim Mangala from Porto, which effectively removed the Citizens from the center back market for the time being.
Further dousing the Benatia-to-Chelsea fire, Benatia's agent chimed in to swat down the latest round of rumors and indicated that he would indeed remain with Roma for the time being.
With two full weeks remaining before the summer transfer window closes, it's beginning to look like, in his quest for English football, time is not on Mehdi Benatia's side. Despite the intractable nature of this will he or won't he saga, Benatia has remained remarkably neutral and politically correct in his dealings with the press, so beyond a few bruised egos, he shouldn't have too many cracks to fill in his public façade.
But, what do you think? Have the never ending rumors tainted your opinion of Mehdi Benatia?
In a quick hit of unrelated news, Vasilis Torosidis has signed a three year contract extension with the club that will keep him in Rome through 2017, when he will be 32-years-old. Torosidis isn't a world beater, but he is a versatile option off the bench and a consummate professional. While this extension was somewhat surprising, it does, once again, speak volumes about Roma's lack of long term options at full back.