No matter where you rank him precisely, few could argue that Kostas Manolas is not among Roma’s most important players, both now and in the future. Blessed with size, speed and athleticism, Manolas has slowly established himself as one of the league’s premier defenders, particularly in the aerial game where he led Serie A defenders in headers won (115), while coming out successful in 76% of his challenges. He may never be a text book perfect defender, but he has learned to harness his skills into an incredibly effective package.
All of which has, of course, led to rampant transfer speculation, notably from England, where both Arsenal and Chelsea are interested in bottling up Greece Lightning. The problem with these rumors, as we’ve noted several times throughout the spring and summer, is simply that if Roma part ways with Manolas prior to August 31 of this year, they have to fork over a portion of the sale price to Olympiacos, Manolas’ former club, robbing the money hungry club of its most obvious motivation.
So while we’ve been granted a stay of execution, given what went down with Miralem Pjanic, not to mention the protracted nature of Francesco Totti’s contract extension, Manolas’ future with Roma seems tenuous at best.
While Manolas remains under contract with Roma, given all the interest in his services, the leverage in any future contract negotiation has swung firmly in his direction. With Chelsea reportedly offering €4 million in salary—a figure Roma only offers to players who stumble around the pitch with the grace of a newborn calf, missing sitters on the reg—Roma will have to up their current paltry €2 million offer.
Manolas and his agent have Roma by the short ones. Whether he stays or goes, all the leverage rests on his side of the table. A protracted bidding war between Chelsea and Arsenal will only up his transfer tag, sending Roma’s resolve in the opposite direction (because they can seldom resist a big sale). This process would also have a neat ancillary benefit for Manolas; boosting his perceived contractual value with Roma in any future negotiation.
Bottom line, at some point in 2017, Manolas is going to get paid, and whether or not Roma is the one cutting the checks depends largely on their resolve. We say it time and time again, but at some point they simply must resist, at some point they have to identify a core group of players around whom they will build their future.
And quite frankly, under this administration, they’ve blatantly ignored the future, offering pie in the sky dreams while they sell the club's future down the river for a quick profit.
Kostas Manolas may not be the second coming of Franz Beckenbauer, but he’s an above average defender with projectionable growth, yet you can’t shake the feeling that he’s nothing more than a figure on a line item budget.