It's been said that there is no rest for the weary, and on this day for Walter Sabatini and Roma, that idiom never rang more true Fresh off the Mehdi Benatia to Munich sale, Roma have wasted no time in snapping up his heir apparent, landing Kostas Manolas from Olympiacos. Manolas, 23-years-old, will be officially unveiled to the world tomorrow afternoon.
AS Roma (@OfficialASRoma) August 26, 2014
According to Gianluca Di Marzio, Kostas didn't come cheap, costing Roma a reported €13m, a mere €500,000 less than they paid for Benatia last season. If Di Marzio is correct, Manolas has signed a five year deal, earning €1.2m per annum.
Though he's only 23-years-old, Manolas began his professional career in the Greek Super League at the tender age of 18, making 10 appearances for AEK Athens in 2010, the first of which earned him near legend status. Following a bone-breaking shot to the head only six minutes into his professional debut against Olympiacos, Manolas, despite playing through severe pain, netted in his first ever appearance for his boyhood club before coming off the pitch ten minutes later.
It wouldn't take long for Manolas to establish a foothold in the AEK lineup either, as he went on to make over 80 appearances before making the move to Olympiacos in 2012. Over two seasons in the red and white, Manolas made nearly 50 league appearances and 13 Champions League appearances, where he even scored two goals in last season's competition. So we can say this for the kid, he doesn't shrink on the big stage.
Further testament to his big game capabilities were evident this summer in Brazil, where young Kostas was pivotal in Greece's march towards the round of 16. Unfortunately for the Greeks, they weren't able to shock the world ala Euro 2004, but that didn't prevent Manolas from grabbing the world's attention.
Manolas made four appearances during the World Cup, totalling 390 minutes, during which he averaged 2.3 tackles per match, winning an impressive 75%, while completing nearly 88% of his passes. Among a traditionally strong defensive set up, Manolas was arguably the Greek's best defender, looking particularly strong against James Rodriguez, Juan Cuadrado and the rest of Colombia's dynamic attack.
Manolas stands at roughly 6'1" and has played either central role in his brief career, though he is nominally a right footed player. Although he's already a hell of a player and one with a bright future, in the immediate sense, Manolas must improve his positioning and distribution from the back, which are key elements for success in Garcia's system, but both are easily remedied in a player as young as Manolas.
Is a 23-year-old Kostas Manolas better than a 27-year-old Mehdi Benatia? Of course not, but he profiles as a player capable of making tremendous strides over the next few years.
Roma might have themselves another gem.