It was just about a week ago that we were tearing our collective hair out at the mere prospect of Roma selling Antonio Rüdiger to the highest bidder. With rumors of FFP sanctions haunting Roma's bank books, someone had to walk the plank. While cases could be made for several big name players, Rüdiger (correct or not) seemed like the easiest to replace; sure he had taken great strides this year and was as athletic as the day is long, but if there's one thing Roma can do it's replace centerbacks, or so the argument went.
Well, that all flew out the window the minute Rüdiger's outstretched right leg snapped, well the ACL at least, erasing all of Roma's best laid plans in the process. While we still don't really know if Roma has a €30 million red mark on their balance sheet, the preponderance of rumors suggest they do, despite James Pallotta's assertions otherwise. Whether they need to scrape together thirty large or not, rumors of a big moneyed sale haven't abated.
Where Rüdiger was once an acceptable sacrifice, Roma's panic has increased tenfold with the news (speculation more aptly) that Miralem Pjanic may be sold to appease the UEFA gods. With Radja Nainggolan looking increasingly likely to remain in his adopted home, someone has to go, and short of a Mohamed Salah sale, no one else but Miralem Pjanic is going to fetch that price.
Last week we discussed the recent Barcelona connections--they've got money to burn and Luis Enrique is a fan--but hump day brought a rather unpleasant surprise with it; new Juventus connections. Not only are the Old Lady keenly interested in Pjanic (he's really the only "type" of player they lack) but word on the streets says Beppe Marotta has touched down in Rome to open up official negotiations.
Now, here is where things get interesting. While Pjanic's €38 million release clause is well known at this point, even the five-time defending champions of Italy can't pony up that dough in one shot, all of which has sent the Old Lady scrambling for new alternatives.
And hey, wouldn't you know it, the financial referees bend in their favor just like the ones on the field. Yesterday we became privy to a funny little clause in Pjanic's contract that entitles him to 15% of that release clause (roughly €5.7 million), which is a large enough sum to give Roma pause in these negotiations.
Bringing us to today's news: Roma, not wanting to lose that €5.7 million, is reportedly willing to negotiate with Juve for a lesser amount + a player of some regard, rumored to be one of Simone Zaza, Roberto Pereyra or Kwadwo Asamoah. All of which has, presumably, led to Marotta's arrival in the Eternal City.
Now, I don't even know where to begin with this one. I'll give the club the benefit of the doubt that they're trying or have tried everything to get their heads above water, but to sell Pjanic to your most bitter rival, one who has kept you at arm's length each of the past two seasons, is the height of stupidity.
So sure, Juve, you can have Pjanic but the starting price is Domenico Berardi + Daniele Rugani + cash. We're talking about one of the five to ten best midfielders in the game, and you're going to fork him over for what, €20 million + Zaza "potential"? Give me a break.
Sell him to Barca, move him to Munich, I don't care, but for the love of god please don't be so stupid as to hand him over to Juventus.
* Football Italia via La Gazzetta dello Sport just reported that the clubs have a greed to a €32 million deal for Pjanic, who has reportedly returned early from a vacation to take part in the negotiations*