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Roma and Sassuolo Dance Around Defrel Rumor

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A French winger? You don’t say!

US Sassuolo v FC Crotone - Serie A Photo by Dino Panato/Getty Images

We’re near the end of the 2017 winter transfer window and our beloved Associazione Sportiva Roma has yet to make any new signings. However, with the healthy returns of Leandro Paredes and Mario Rui, not to mention the emergence of Emerson Palmieri and the looming return of Alessandro Florenzi, Roma has, in a way, received an injection of fresh talent.

Despite those names on the mend, Roma has done a bit of window shopping this month, focusing largely on the pacey winger/forward types we all love so dearly. Much of the recent attention has focused on Sassuolo’s Gregoire Defrel, a 25-year-old French winger/forward. Defrel is currently in his second season with the Neroverdi, for whom he has scored 15 goals in all competitions since the start of 2015. Known for his dribbling and tactical versatility, Defrel has drawn comparisons to another Frenchman, one with whom we are intimately familiar, Jeremy Menez.

With his ability to play as a forward, a right winger and even an attacking midfielder in a pinch, he’s nearly ideally suited to what this club needs. However, since this is Roma we’re talking about, things are seldom that simple. With an inflated asking price of €18 million, Sassuolo are playing hardball with Roma, pumping the brakes on this seemingly perfect marriage of player and club.

Despite that stance, the back and forth between the two clubs hasn’t waned much. For much of last week, and indeed this past weekend, keeping Defrel was the company line, one which has come suddenly come unshackled. While the higher ups are presumably keeping to that €18 million asking price, Sassuolo CEO Giovanni Carnevali admitted that talks with Roma are “on standby”, while Defrel’s agent is preaching patience to all parties, each giving this rumor the faintest sign of life.

For my two cents, as much as I’d love Defrel to round out this squad, €18 million is an awfully steep price to pay for a reserve, one who, quite frankly, seems redundant with Stephan El Shaarawy on the roster. And even though Defrel is capable of playing forward (as is SES), Roma’s tactics haven’t really diverted from an Edin Dzeko-led attack, meaning Defrel’s versatility might actually go to waste.

All of this is not to say that he wouldn’t make Roma better—he absolutely, unequivocally would—but given the cost and Luciano Spalletti’s preferred tactics, Defrel’s role, even as a potential second striker, is already filled by El Shaarawy.

For the first time in god knows how long, we can dismiss Roma transfer rumors not because of fiscal impossibilities but because—brace yourself—Roma is already really good.