September the First came and went with no purchases by A.S. Roma, and given this lack of movement beyond the departure of William Vainqueur and a couple temporary loans, one might be led to think that the highers-up at Roma are reasonably happy with the squad as is. Unfortunately, trouble seems to be right on the horizon, and coming up fast, as contract talks between Kostas Manolas and Roma seem to have hit a snag.
According to the Corriere dello Sport, Manolas is less than thrilled with his place in the wage hierarchy, and considering his importance to the squad, his 1.8 million annual salary does seem low. At first, Walter Sabatini and others were eager to offer the most consistent part of Roma’s defense an improved deal. However, the Greek’s performances so far this season have left much to be desired, reportedly causing the Lupi big-wigs to rethink a high-paying contract. The Corriere dello Sport continues by positing that a renewal may still occur, but if it does it will still most likely result in a transfer away from the Stadio Olimpico for Manolas.
In all honesty, this seems to be a quickly-brewing disaster for the Giallorossi. I’ve already written about the multi-million euro game of musical chairs Walter Sabatini seems to be playing with Roma’s defenders, and when the constant sales and a slew of injuries are combined, it means that there has been little to no consistency in Roma’s back line since everybody’s favorite Iain Glen lookalike took over as Director of Sport. Losing Manolas, especially over something as simple as contract difficulties, would make it clear to even a part-time Romanista that Roma will not exert financial muscle to keep its stars happy.
So what would happen if Roma lost the services of one of its most tenured defenders? Antonio Rüdiger looks to be rejoining the squad in September, but recovering from an ACL tear is no easy thing, even for a spritely 23-year-old defender with social media prowess. The ransom for Manolas would certainly be high, as many Premiere League clubs have come knocking already (including Arsenal, Chelsea, and more). But the in-house replacements for Manolas can certainly be described as lacking, considering that Roma must plan for playing in three competitions and most of the promising young defenders on payroll still require weaning from Alberto De Rossi’s primavera squad. Whatever the case may be, a Manolas sale would certainly require a new central defender, a roll of the dice that a team that supposedly wishes to contend for the Scudetto can’t afford.
Time will tell if this rumor simply disappears, along the lines of Jack Wilshere to Roma or Axel Witsel to Juventus. Yet the sheer plausibility of the rumor speaks volumes about Roma’s lack of continuity throughout the squad and what can only be described as continual ignorance with regards to defender contract renewals.