For various reasons, the Gregoire Defrel to Roma transfer saga was delayed for over six months, haunting our dreams for nearly all of 2017. From a mid-season reinforcement meant to propel Luciano Spalletti’s side past the Old Lady in last season’s Scudetto race, to today’s announcement, Defrel has always been and remains very much a mystery to Roma fans.
While we still don’t know exactly how and when Eusebio Di Francesco will use Defrel in his new surroundings, we can, at least from a financial perspective, demystify this move somewhat. Defrel, 26, is moving to Rome on an initial €5 million loan, one which carries a mandatory €15 million purchase clause, with a further €3 million in potential performances bonuses; do the math and this adds up to a €23 million transfer.
Now, the value Roma extracts from that €23 million quite obviously depends on a lot of factors, chief among them, where/when/how much will this guy actually play? Defrel addressed this uncertainty when he spoke to the media this afternoon:
In the past I’ve played as a winger, though at Sassuolo the coach always played me as the central striker. I found it hard to get used to the movement in the first year, but he really helped me and I learned a lot and improved. I still have a lot to learn but I feel like a centre forward
So, if we operate based on Defrel’s feelings and preferences, he’s very much a center forward, one who will ostensibly be second choice to Edin Dzeko, barring something dramatic, and if that is indeed the case, then this deal could head south quickly, for no other reason than that’s a hell of a lot for a club like Roma to pay for a backup.
However, as we’ve discussed over the past several days, EDF will most likely pick and choose his spots for Defrel, alternatively playing him alongside and in place of Dzeko. Striking a balance in that equation is the key to maximizing Defrel’s potential with Roma, and given their financial constraints, it’s one that could make or break Roma in the short term.
Either way, Roma’s attack now has an additional level of utility. Look for Defrel to link up with his new teammates as they continue their march through the states.