It's amazing how abruptly the news cycle changes once the transfer window closes. Well, maybe not amazing, I mean it makes sense, but what do we talk about in between matches now? Gervinho's apparent ambivalence towards cup deciding penalty kicks? Victor Ibarbo's on again off again knee injury, or how about the fact that we've yet to really see Rudi Garcia in all his mock-neck glory?
Good topics all, but today's rumor mill generated a pretty juicy rumor, one with substantial implications to Roma's market aims over the next 36 to 48 months, to say nothing of their on-the-pitch plans. We're talking, of course, about the rumored contract extension being offered to Adem Ljajic.
Lost amid the flurry of draws and burning effigies of Garcia and Sabatini, Ljajic has quietly been putting together perhaps his finest season as a pro, and certainly his best effort since his breakthrough 2012-2013 campaign with Fiorentina. Through 20 league appearances, Ljajic leads the club with eight goals, while his two assists rank third. Ljajic is also top five in terms of shots, crosses, dribbles and key passes per match, all while completing 89% of his passes, the best mark among Roma's forwards. Little by little, Ljajic's role and importance to this team is growing.
Given these achievements, and the simple fact that he has, at long last, matured, it should come as little surprise that Roma want to hang onto their 23-year-old Serbian starlet. Although Nutella's contract runs through 2017, multiple media outlets are reporting that Roma are hoping to negate his €25m buyout clause by offering him a longer, more lucrative deal.
While no figures have been discussed, based on the extensions handed out this season to the likes of Alessandro Florenzi, we can safely assume Sabatini is looking to bind Ljajic to Roma through at least 2020, presumably with a hefty raise above his current €1.9m salary.
Ljajic's maturation hasn't been confined to the Seven Hills of Rome, either, so the implications of this extension are gigantic, of course. Rest assured, the footballing world is well aware that Ljajic's prodigious talent is beginning to blossom, so he'd have no shortage of suitors should Roma make him available this summer. Following the line of reasoning of this fictional contract extension, we can safely assume that Sabatini feels he is worth far more than his €25m release cause would indicate; after all, that's chump change for our British colleagues. Indeed, if Ljajic continues along this path, €25m might be a bargain for a man of his skillset.
Taking that a step further, by attempting to extend Ljajic a full two years ahead of his current contract's expiration, Roma are not only recognizing and appreciating his potential value on the open market (and attempting to get a bargain therein), but are subtly suggesting that it is he, and not Miralem Pjanic, that is the true building block for Roma's post-Totti empire.
While Ljajic has primarily been used on the wings during his first season-and-a-half in Rome, make no mistake, this kid (and he is indeed still a kid) has the goods to be Roma's prime mover in the middle once Totti graciously exits stage right. Ljajic has the vision, creativity, touch, and, let's face it, the balls to be man around whom Roma's offense revolves. He can both seek out the ball and let the match come to him, while having enough intelligence and initiative to create for others or take matters into his own hands; players like that don't grow on (hazelnut)trees
The market price on Nutella is skyrocketing, get your shares now.