With Roma under the gun of Financial Fair Play (oxymoron alert), and with no guarantee of an influx of Champions League cash, this was always going to be a precarious summer. With a bevvy of in their prime, or near their prime, stars Walter Sabatini won't have to look far to find a willing trading partner, but who will be the sacrificial lamb? Will they cash in on Pjanic's brilliance and relatively young age, or profit off the wave of Radja Nainggolan hype?
Well, depending on where you turn and who you believe, it may be both. Various German media outlets have apparently caught wind of an agreement struck between Miralem Pjanic and Bayern Munich, though no indication was given they had met, or were will to meet, Roma's substantial valuation of him, believed to be in the neighborhood of €40 million.
Now, don't go getting your panties or banana hammocks in a bunch, we've certainly read, reported and talked about players reaching personal terms with clubs before only to wind up just where we started. Personal terms are one thing, and yes, they're indicative of progress on the transfer market, but a transfer in and of itself they do not make. Pjanic remains under contract with Roma, so, FFP aside, there is no pressing need to sell.
On to Nainggolan and Chelsea. By now we're all quite familiar with Antonio Conte's dogged pursuit of Nainggolan, which previously existed only in the tabloids and was spoken about in hushed tones in the darkest alleys in the Eternal City. Football Italia, via SportMediaset (which is, as an aside, a horrible name for a news service. It almost sounds like the name of a generic cereal brand--the toasted oat circles of the sports media world if you will) reports that not only is Conte interested in Radja, but actually had a face-to-face discussion with the 28-year-old midfielder.
This one is a bit scarier than the Pjanic rumor, simply because, for lack of a better term, there are boots on the ground. Agreeing to personal terms via fax is one thing, but to actually sit down in a hotel and discuss this potential move is on an entirely different level, doubly so if Conte has Roman Abramovich's blessing, which would make Roma's €45 million demand mere pocket change.
While I'm no expert on FFP regulations, it would seem that Roma's inability to live up to their bold proclamations is coming home to roost, and may ultimately cost them one of Pjanic or Nainggolan. And while we can (and have) debated about who is more replaceable, the larger point becomes overshadowed: In order to live up to that hype, to truly move Roma up a notch, they need both of these players and more.
Constantly coming in second was always a blow to the ego, now it looks like it's having repercussions on the pitch.