While we hate to interrupt the day's Euro 2016 coverage, Roma's transfer rumor mill seems like it's about to take an interesting turn. Days after lambasting Roma's management for selling Miralem Pjanic to Juventus (though it looks like their hands were pretty well tied), we may have to eat some crow, as they appear on the verge of landing an incredibly intriguing replacement, Real Madrid's Mateo Kovacic.
Kovacic, a 22-year-old Croatian midfielder, only moved to Real Madrid last summer, making a €29 million switch from Inter Milan who were, ironically, forced into the sale because of Financial Fair Play concerns. While this rumor remains very much in its infancy, the Gazzetta dello Sport indicates that Roma and Kovacic have agreed to personal terms for the loan and that Walter Sabatini is on his way to the Spanish capital to hash things out with Real.
This report has been picked up and/or corroborated by several other sources, both in Italy and abroad, but the framework of this speculated deal seems like an initial one-year loan with a rumored €25 million buy out. So, considering what Real paid for him just a year ago, we can safely assume the loan fee is at least €4 million, and considering his age and reputation, we can also safely assume Real will insert a buy back clause into this deal.
Pretty safe bet on Real's part. They find a place for Kovacic to play and, at the very worst, they should be able to recoup the cost and if Kovacic comes good in Roma, then they've got the right of first refusal at an already agreed upon price. For Roma the benefit is simple; Kovacic is a salaciously talented player, one who is almost a carbon copy of Pjanic, albeit a far less polished copy.
Despite his lack of experience, the book on Kovacic has always been filled with effusive praise: for his touch, his dribbling ability and versatility. Kovacic can and has played virtually every midfield role and is as comfortable sitting deep as he is linking up with the strikers.
If this move does indeed come to fruition, Kovacic has a little bit of rust to knock off over the summer, as he only played roughly 1,300 minutes last season with Real. However, consider me on board with this move; Kovacic is exactly the type of player who can make us forget about Pjanic in a hurry.
And while Roma is potentially robbing Peter to pay Paul here (that's a mighty high buyout clause and we're seeing how Roma is balking at several of those this year), while Madrid holding buy back rights could come back to bite Roma in the ass, this is Real Madrid we're talking about here; they have the luxury to negotiate how, when and where they wish, so it's just the cost of doing business.
Needless to say, we'll stay on top of this one, but this move could be enormous for Roma's present and future.