Dang, talk about a busy day of near rumors, rumors and, get this, actual transactions. In the span of one afternoon, Roma secured one and possibly two midfielders, let a solid yet maligned defender walk, renewed the loan of an extremely disappointing winter arrival, stirred up an old striker romance and either completed or forestalled a deal for their player of the year.
If that opening gambit sounded intentionally vague, it was; that's how crazy today's rumor mill was. The day started off with yet another Nainggolan News Flash, this one indicating that Roma had finally, at long last, completed a deal with Cagliari to obtain the remaining 50% of Radja Nainggolan's contract. The latest twist in this near yearlong saga would see Roma fork over €15m for Nainggolan, €3m to renew Victor Ibarbo's loan and a further €2m to obtain, for some strange reason, Swedish midfielder Abin Ekdal.
I don't even know how to digest this one, its almost as if, by hook or crook, Cagliari wanted to squeeze €20m out of Roma, just for the sake of it. Remember, this figure was bandied about for Nainggolan himself, but now we get the added pleasure of 12 months of Ibarbo and Ekdal.
At this point, Walter Sabatini has painted himself into a corner, so whatever price Cagliari wants or can finagle out of Roma for Nainggolan, he's pretty much obligated to pay; his place on the team is that important. As far as Ibarbo is concerned, my stance is somewhat softening. As long as they don't commit to him long term, his size, speed and agility can help Roma win games; he's not a building block, that's for sure, but he's not without his charms. And, if I'm being honest, I never even heard of Ekdal before, so take that as you will.
Okay, nevermind. As I was writing this (literally), word broke that Roma has concluded the purchase of Nainggolan for....drumroll....€22m! alone, and without even a complimentary Swedish midfielder, PLUS a renewal of Ibarbo's loan, one that includes an option to buy. Given that this broke as I was writing the paragraphs above, we'll address the implications later on, but at least the deal is finally done. Was it the best deal they could've struck? Probably not, but its one that needed to happen.
Moving onto the striker-related section of our rumor updates. Mattia Destro's young career seems set to taken another strange twist. Starting from the protracted three-way transfer saga that brought him to Roma in the first place, the near move to Wolfsburg last summer, the ill-fated and consequential mid-year loan to Milan and now finally with his reported acceptance of a €14m move to Monaco, nothing is ever simple when it comes to acquiring Mr. Right, am I right, ladies? But hey, who in their right mind wouldn't want to live in Monaco?
The second and ancillary portion of that equation involves Roma rekindling their romance with Shakhtar Donetsk striker, Luiz Adriano, who may or may not be the prototypical forward for Rudi Garcia's system. You know the story by now. Given the tumult in Ukraine recently, many, many players have reportedly been planning an escape to safer harbors. Adriano's situation is exacerbated by the fact his contract only has six months remaining, so Roma is sure to have stiff competition from several notable clubs.
Moving from fiction to fact, it appears as though someone upstairs wasn't terribly impressed with Davide Astori's lone season in Rome, as word is starting to spread that no mention has been made of Astori in any of Roma and Cagliari's repeated summits. You know my stance on this, as a third or fourth defender, he's aces, so it will be interesting to see what this move portends for the near future of Alessio Romagnoli; will he come home or remain on loan? Is his develop best served by starting for Sampdoria or sitting ebind (ugh) Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa on the depth charts?
Finally we'll finish with an actual transaction, that of Andrea Bertolacci. Per the club pdf, Roma have obtained the remaining 50% of his contract from Genoa for €8.5m; a pretty nifty deal for a player on the rise, it would seem. While there was no official word about Iago Falque in that release, given the €15m-€16m combo deal we talked about last week, we can safely assume the bill was nearly a 50/50 split between the two young offensive talents.
While the really big shoe (Nainggolan) has yet to drop, today's actual and near-action should set the course for the remainder of Roma's summer shopping season. Without Destro in the fold and with Seydou Doumbia's future equally uncertain, you can bet your bottom Euro that Roma will acquire another forward, ditto for a central defender given their disinterest in Davide Astori, while we should also watch Roma's purse strings now that they've essentially spent €30m in one day without any corresponding sales.
Like we said the other day, when it rains it pours.