Fresh off a victory over Napoli, and with new murmurs of a Francesco Totti contract extension percolating, things were finally looking up for Roma. After weeks of controversy in the boardroom and dropped points on the pitch, the grey cloud seemed to be dissipating after Monday's Derby del Sole, but just in case you're a new Roma fan, here's a lesson: we don't get to enjoy nice things for too long.
After lashing home the match winner on Monday, Radja Nainggolan was once again the spotlight. While we've dealt with the Nainggolan-to-Chelsea rumors with a sense of self satisfied haughty derision, today's news should sap a bit of that reserve.
Sky Italia is reporting that Chelsea and Roma are closer than ever to a reported €40 million transfer for the 28-year-old midfielder, which I believe would be Roma's most lucrative sale ever. Despite that procession of zeros, Walter Sabatini--who, need I remind you, may be a future Chelsea employee himself---responded with expected ambiguity:
I don't know, I've never spoken to Conte. Nainggolan is a universal midfielder, so strong in every area of the game that he is wanted by many clubs.
He is playing a new role under Luciano Spalletti, which could be only transitory, but he's often played in a more advanced role
If this rumor is true, it puts Roma in quite the pickle. WIth several still gaping holes in their lineup, that forty milhouse will go a long way to shoring up the club's weak points. Of course, removing Nainggolan from the equation creates an equally large chasm in Spalletti's tactics.
As Sabatini said, Nainggolan is a universal midfielder, one who, at 28-years-old, is at his absolute peak, and as we've seen over the past several months, Nainggolan, as an offensive outlet and midfielder eraser, is absolutely essential.
The problem with offering financial ultimatums to teams with limitless pockets is that sooner or later, they call your bluff, putting you in a precarious position--put up or shut up. Do you say true to your word and win with an established core of players, or do you take the money and run? Is this close enough to Roma's €45 million valuation of Nainggolan, or will they stand firm?
This could be the ultimate litmus test for this management: money vs momentum.