While Daniele De Rossi is Roma's highest wage earner, there can be little doubt which player would fetch the most on the open market, their midfield maestro, Miralem Pjanic. After securing his signature on deadline day 2011 for just €11m (god only knows what a 21-year-old Pjanic would go for on today's market), Pjanic has survived several changes in leadership to assert himself as one of Roma's, if not the league's, best players.
Due to his ascendency for both club and country, we've seemingly had to endure several nonsensical transfer rumors every summer, even after Pjanic penned his three year contract extension last offseason. From Luis van Gaal's Manchester United pining for a steadying influence in midfield, to Luis Enrique desperate for a reunion with his former prodigy to Real Madrid being, well, Real Madrid, Pjanic has had no shortage of well-moneyed suitors, making life for Roma fans miserable this time of year...you know, more than usual.
Well, here we are in the summer of 2015, and wouldn't you know it, people are still going bananas for the Bosnian. La Gazzetta dello Sport reports that former Laziale and current Atletico Madrid head man Diego Simeone is pining for Pjanic, while L'Equipe (you remember them, they're the ones who claimed we had Adrien Rabiot all locked up) indicates that PSG is hot on Pjanic's trail once more, while Liverpool has also been mentioned as a potential suitor for Pjanic, seeing him as the ideal successor to Steven Gerrard.
Due to this speculation, or simply because he's got time on his hands, Walter Sabatini and Roma have reportedly slapped a €45 million price tag on Pjanic, which is some 10 to 12 million more than we reported last summer; that's how much his stock has risen over the past 12 months.
Since arriving in Rome in the summer of 2011, Pjanic has made 144 appearances across all competitions, scoring 18 goals and contributing 33 assists along the way, while logging over 10,000 minutes across those four seasons. Were it not for his ill-fated tenure under Zeman, those minutes could have easily been bumped up another 1,000.
We mention the minutes for a reason; Pjanic's gross numbers would probably be higher if Roma had, you know, an actual, capable backup for him. Since his arrival, Pjanic has played in nearly 70% of Roma's Serie A matches (well, minutes, but you get the picture), which is right in line with his career mark. Starting with his debut pro season for Metz in 2007, Pjanic has appeared in close to 70% of his respective club's minutes in all but three seasons. Point being, for such a young player, Pjanic has been an integral component, so it is in everyone's best interest that his minutes be properly managed going forward.
In that sense, this rumor is troubling on two fronts. First and foremost, the obvious point--Pjanic is absolutely crucial to anything Roma can achieve on the pitch; in an absolutely stacked midfield, he's the prime mover. Secondly, and following from the first point, if Roma cannot even find a capable backup to relieve Pjanic, how on earth could they actually replace him?
As Pjanic's play improves, his role and importance to the club increases dramatically, points which are not lost on their rivals. So, until Roma takes the next step and truly becomes a force on the transfer market, I'm afraid these sorts of rumors will prevail, but is €45 million enough to keep those sticky fingers at bay?