Walter Sabatini is either a straight up killjoy or a master of media manipulation. In the absence of actual match news, the Roma rumor mongers stirred up stories of a Mehdi Benatia reunion, the latest in a line of would be Roma missed connections. Benatia leaving Bayern was the caboose to a train of late summer rumors that would've seen Erik Lamela and Marquinhos returning to the Giallorossi.
Speaking at today's charity match between a "Roma Legends" squad and Liberi Nantes, Sabatini spoke about those flimsy rumors:
Before you talked about Lamela, then Marquinhos and now even Benatia I've always liked Medhi, of course, and if there was the chance to bring him back, then I would. But last year he left in some pretty bitter circumstances with the fans...Marquinhos is strong too and I'd like him back, but he costs about €60m now and that's excessive.
Let's give credit to Sabatini being real with the media, both about the costs, probability and circumstances of each player's departure, but which of these, if any, would have any merit?
Lamela is probably a no-go given Roma's perpetual glut of wingers, especially now that Mohamed Salah and Iago Falque have been permanently signed. If this has any chance of coming to fruition, it would seem to hinge on the futures of Gervinho and Adem Ljajic; one of whom factors in the present but not the long term future, while the other has always tantalized with his potential, but just couldn't seem to crack Roma's rotation on a consistent basis, so perhaps there may be room for Lamela after all, but he just doesn't seem like Rudi's sort of winger.
The prospective returns of Benatia and Marquinhos are a bit harder to dismiss out of hand, simply because you can make a case for why their respective clubs would let them walk for a presumably handsome price.
Benatia, as we discussed late in the week, simply hasn't been able to stay on the pitch, becoming more a luxury than a necessity for the German giants. Even at €25 million or so, Benatia, if healthy and provided they can put all the negativity behind them, would be a massive and cost effective upgrade to Roma's defense, given the current market price for central defenders.
Marquinhos, meanwhile, may be expendable for PSG simply because they can buy anyone on the planet. While the many formerly known as Plural has found a somewhat steady role with PSG, with seven appearances across all competitions, he remains firmly behind Thiago Silva and David Luiz in the pecking order. While I can't imagine they'd get €60 million for him, you can be damned sure he's going to cost at least thirty large. At only 21-years-old, the world remains very much at his feet.
With Roma's questionable financial future, particularly if they don't qualify for the Champions League, it's hard to imagine them dolling out €25 to €35 million for anyone, but then again, maybe Sabatini is toying with all us and he's got his dominoes all aligned for a massive winter swoop.
Or maybe its all just international break bluster.