Another day, another does of transfer rumors. While we've spent the past several days focusing on potential departures--namely Radja Nainggolan and Miralem Pjanic (who may receive a hefty raise to ward off these rumors)--today we'll focus on a couple potential arrivals and/or reinforcements. While Roma could stand pat over the summer and still fall among the top three, this team is so close to competing for the grand prize, reinforcements and upgrades on the fringes of the squad are the order of the day.
We'll start things off with the juiciest rumor of them all, the potential return of Machine Gun Benatia. Mehdi Benatia, you may remember, left Roma under rather bitter circumstances two summers ago, with rumors of Benatia reneging on his contract leading James Pallotta to call him a clubhouse poison. While we'll never truly know what precipitated that ugly divorce, Benatia remains firmly in the fans heart, and for good reason, he was an integral part in Roma's record breaking 2013-2014 campaign.
Unfortunately for Benatia, life with Bayern Munich hasn't been as rosy as he'd imagined, and whatever hope he had for an increased role was crushed the moment the German giants landed Mats Hummels. Given this confluence of circumstances, Benatia is reportedly seeking a way out of Deutschland, presumably back to Serie A.
While there have been intermittent stories of a Roma reunion over the past six months or so, the latest iteration of these rumors sees a tug of war between the Giallorossi and Juventus over the Moroccan's signature. Both Juve and Roma are ostensibly set for starting center backs, but a fit and in form Benatia is fully capable of unseating any of Kostas Manolas, Antonio Rüdiger, Andrea Barzagli or Leonardo Bonucci, though you'd like his chances for more minutes on the Roman side of that equation.
Seeing as how Roma cashed in some €26 million for Benatia two years ago, he won't come cheap, but these rumors would have you believe both Italian clubs are going the loan with an option to buy route. The difference in these approaches, according to La Repubblica, rests in the nature of the loan. Roma, it is believed, have offered a greater up front fee with an "option" to buy, while Juve have tabled, or are at least considering, a slightly lower fee with a mandatory purchase clause based on appearances.
A minor difference, sure, but one that could ultimately prove significant. While Roma's "option" may seem rather nebulous, when you consider Benatia's injury history and Juve's superior depth, the appearance clause starts to look less ironclad.
Of course, Benatia could just as easily end up in England, so we'll never truly know. While Benatia would be a tremendous addition to Luciano Spalletti's squad next season, is he really the top defensive priority? With Antonio Rüdiger's play and reputation increasing week-by-week, locking him up simply makes more sense, both now and for the future, while Roma's perpetual nemesis, fullback, remains as pressing a need as ever.
Don't get me wrong, however, if Roma can manage to land Benatia on a loan, he would be an ideal pickup. Given his struggles (a term we use loosely) at Bayern, he would presumably have something to prove to the world next season and would give Roma some much needed depth at the back.
So, if all the financial dominoes fall into place, we'll simply have to hope that his admiration for the club, the city and his former teammates hold sway over the Old Lady's aura.