With all the usual sources reporting that Roma and Bayern Munich have agreed in principle to a deal to transfer Mehdi Benatia to the reigning German Champions, it appears as though our long international nightmare is finally over. Although word began to trickle out last night, those same sources are now reporting that the framework of the deal is €26m upfront with a further €4m in bonuses/add-ons/double coupon deals.
As I'm sure you're probably aware, Roma only purchased Benatia some 13 months ago from Udinese for roughly €13.5m. It was Udinese who plucked Benatia from relative obscurity in 2010, signing the then 23-year-old defender for nothing. So, for those of you keeping score at home, in the span of four years, Benatia went from a free transfer to a nearly €30m asset. For Roma's part, they stand to profit more than €16m on Mehdi Benatia.
As always, we'll await the official pdf before doing the final financial calculations, and while it wasn't the €35m-€40m range we had hoped for, given how the market for center backs collapsed after Manchester City captured Eliaquim Mangala, Roma did as well as they could've hoped, especially considering their leverage was dwindling by the day, both because of the suddenly barren market and Benatia's increasingly caustic relationship with his teammates. Simply put, Roma was in an increasingly untenable situation; something had to be done and soon.
Beyond the financial fallout, we're left to wonder what truly happened here. How did such a fruitful relationship turn so sour after one season? Benatia was far and away Roma's best defender last season and seemed an instant hit among teammates and fans, so to watch this relationship devolve over the summer has been quite disheartening, particularly as Benatia proclaimed to believe in and was happy being a part of Roma's project.
Roma can seldom compete with the world's big spenders, so when they land a world class player who not only left money on the table, but professes to love the club, the city and the fans, emotional bonds are formed quickly. Of course, when those bonds are broken, fans become bitter and the once effusive praise becomes vitriolic.
So who is really to blame? Benatia or the club?
The fact of the matter is, we may never know. It's just as possible that Benatia had always intended to leverage his performance into a move to a larger club, as it is Roma simply botched the renegotiated contract they reportedly promised Benatia last summer. Whatever the case may be, Benatia's Roma career closes with 37 appearances, over 3,000 minutes, five goals, 70 tackles and 92 interceptions.
But hey, if you must bear a grudge, at least you can delight in your shit-eating grin that Benatia didn't get his ultimate wish to play in the Premiership.
There are also indications that Roma have immediately secured Benatia's nominal replacement in the form of Greek international Kostas Manolas, who has already landed in Roma following a reported €13m move and may be taking a medical examination as we speak. For an immediate profile of the young Greek, I'll refer you back to this excellent fanpost, but we'll have an official write up on him once it becomes (semi)official.
It's in German, its on Twitter, its official.
Perfekt: FCB und AS Rom einig über Transfer von MEHDI BENATIA (27)! Abwehr-Ass soll 5-Jahres-Vertrag unterschreiben. ^M.Hörwick— FC Bayern München (@FCBayern) August 26, 2014
DONE DEAL: #FCBayern and @OfficialASRoma have agreed the transfer of MEHDI BENATIA (27)! Defensive ace set to sign a 5-year contract.— FC Bayern English (@FCBayernEN) August 26, 2014
DONE DEAL! Bayern Munich have confirmed they agreed a deal to sign Roma's Medhi Benatia— ESPN FC (@ESPNFC) August 26, 2014