From Piraeus with Love: Why Manolas should come to AS Roma

Jeff Gross


Okay now that that's out of my system, here is an analytical explanation of why Roma should want to sign Manolas:

1. The way he plays reminds me a whole lot of Benatia.

Manolas is extremely smart in his positioning and incredibly tactically aware. If you want proof go watch the Greece vs. Ivory Coast game. There's two plays of note: One where he runs Gervinho down on a 50-50 ball and beats him to it (out ran fucking Yao, think about that), and another play where he stops a 3-on-2 breakaway with Drogba on the ball and Yao in behind with space. While looking over his back as he sprints towards his own net, he makes 2 quick unorthodox steps towards Yao to cut off that would be a ball to put Yao in on the keeper. This forces Drogba to play it wide, giving Manolas and the rest of the defense time to get back into position, killing the play. It was, in one word genius. It's not often that you see a 23 year old outwit arguably one of the greatest strikers of the past 10 years. When I see this kid play, I see Benatia minus the goal-scoring (don't worry, he's got years to figure that out).

2. He's already proven on the big stage.

He had a great Champions League campaign with Olympiakos (Oly) this past season, and was a large factor in their advance into the knockout rounds over Benfica. He even made the CL team of the week multiple times, and won the league title these past 2 years.

3. CB depth

He's young, so he will be fine with whatever role he would receive, but I'll let you in on a little secret: he won't be sitting on the bench for long. He's better than Astori. Much better. Plus Astori is left-footed, so he's technically just Castan's backup. Manolas a "righty" so he'll most likely backup Medhi, not Medhi and Castan. If Benatia leaves for AFCON, Manolas would be a great stop gap.

4. The price tag

When AEK got relegated 2 seasons ago, Manolas left for Olympiakos on a free. And as I write this post I am wearing a nice pair of shorts with their logo on it (Roma shorts are in the wash). So while my heart will forever be in Rome, Oly is my Greek team, so I like to keep myself informed, and root for them when it's not at Roma's expense. But I digress…

Olympiakos doesn't have the money that the big clubs Roma has, so balancing the books is paramount. Unfortunately the transfer market culture isn’t financially able to be like it is here in the Chiesa. Here we are spoiled with the fact that some players (God, DDR, Florenzi) will most likely spend their entire career with us, and Roma will find a way to afford a permanent stay. Oly fans, however, know that EVERYONE is for sale if the price is right. Abidal Was the big signing for Oly this window, and with the Rumors of Robinho's arrival gaining momentum, there will be a need to balance the books. Manolas came in on a free. In my opinion he's worth much more than €15 million, but since Oly paid nothing, a €15 mil profit is music to the ears of their management. If Roma paid €20 million for him I'd be thrilled. He's just that good.

5. The future

While I hope Benatia ends his (useful) career in Rome, there are a few big-$$$ clubs currently in need of CB's, and have been circling the Olimpico like vultures. I worry that Roma won't be able to turn down the ridiculous amounts of cash that these teams will be willing to pay. With this in mind, there isn't a single choice more clear-cut than Manolas. Especially if the pool of candidates doesn't include people who's transfer fees and/or wages would eventually plummet us into debt, thus rendering the Medhi sale useless. Manolas is a phenomenal CB now, and only has room to grow at age 23. I would see his career in Rome end 1 of 2 ways: falls in love with the club, finds great success over the years, and returns to Oly when he's out of his prime and no longer of use. Or, he explodes the way Benatia has exploded, and we buy him for €15-20 million, and sell him for €35-50 million in a few years. Either way it's a win for Roma.

So with all of these reasons for Roma to want Manolas, why would Manolas want Roma? Especially considering the 3-time Serie-A champions are also interested in acquiring his services?

This is how we're going to beat Juventus to his signature:

1. Sabatini

We all know the story. Walt lets other clubs reach and reach with all their might, then Saba, like a vindictive super hero, swoops in, saves the day, and humiliates the bad guys. He did it to Lazio with Astori, and Manolas’ potential suitors with Iturbe. Whenever I think of Walter Sabatini, the theme song to "Bob the Builder" comes to my head (with a few changes of course) "Sa-ba-tini! Can we sign him? Sa-ba-tini! YES WE CAN!"

2. Torosidis

While some doubt him, I still think he’s the best backup RB (and LB in a pinch) that Rome could hope for. As it pertains to this deal, Torosidis could play a very different yet important role for Roma in signing his compatriot. Basili and Kosta spent the 2012-2103 season together on the right side of Olympiacos’ defense (RB & RCB respectively), and worked together in the same roles for the national team during their World Cup campaign (and in qualifiers). Not only could he put in a good word about the club, Toro would also be a great help to Manolas in settling in with the new squad and the new language.

3. Ranieri

Quickly following Santos’ announcement that he was going to step down as Greece’s national team coach, Claudio Ranieri was named to be his successor. And as national-team coach, Ranieri should have some say in Manolas’ future. Sure he coached Juve, but he coached us too, so that’s not going to decide it. However these questions might: Where was Claudio Born? What team did he support since childhood? The answer is written in Red & Yellow.

Heritage aside, if Ranieri wants what's best for his new team's success, which team do you think he would tell Manolas to join? A team in transition with new management, 5 CB's and 0 familiar faces? Or the team where his compatriot plays, the management is (currently) more consistent, and only 1 RCB above him in the pecking order? It seems like a clear choice to me.

While my justification for Bradley’s tenure in Rome (which I still think was a success, he filled the supporting role in Roma’s transition, and helped Brand U-S-AS Roma) was mostly emotional and warranted by my love for the US, Manolas’s potential signature has much more to it. In my heart, I want Greeks coming to the Serie A, learning how to play the beautiful game, and bringing it to the national team. If Manolas comes to the Serie A, there’s no where I’d rather him be than not Juve or our Champions-League-spot contenders Roma. But in my mind, as well as my heart, Manolas can be good for all parties involved. He’s damn good now and has a bright future ahead of him. A future that will would arrive much faster, in my opinion, at Roma as opposed to Juve.

When it comes to my love for the men who wear the colors, my love for a player usually comes after they don the jersey. But this one is different. I fell in love with Manolas watching him play for Oly in the CL and Greece in their journey to Brazil and the World Cup. This guy has never failed to impress me, even when Greece played poorly.

To quote one of my favorite FIFA 14 songs, "The time is coming up. The time is getting closer. The time is almost here." Manolas has been spotted in our airport. If the reports are true, it's us or Juve. Please god Saba, make my love story come true. I won't be able to see one of my favorites in those prison-rags known as " The Juventus Jersey."

I know I'm biased, so I'd like to know how you all feel. Please answer the poll and/or comment. Thanks for Reading!

Forza Roma


Benatia has all but left the building, so expect this move to Oly has stood firm on their €15 million asking price, and according to the greek media, Oly's front office have gotten just that from Roma.

For those of you still concerned that he isn't what Benatia is, you would be right. Kosta doesn't have the years of Serie A experience under his belt. However, considering he's just 23, and is miles ahead of Benatia when he was this age, my money is on Manolas having the classier better career. I'll try to continue to keep this post updated, but you most likely see that energy diverted to the comment threads.

Forza Manolas!

Another Update:

It's official. Welcome to AS Roma!!!!!!!!!!

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