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Roma Face New Competition for Mahrez

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Ruh roh.

Liverpool FC v Leicester City FC: Premier League Asia Trophy Photo by Victor Fraile/Getty Images

While the Riyad Mahrez-to-Roma transfer rumors have yet to reach Mohamed Salah-like levels of frustration and annoyance, to say nothing of legal hurdles, it is nevertheless becoming quite the headache for Roma fans already weary of silly season. Were Mahrez simply an ancillary part, no problem, we could weather the storm, but the more the summer drags on the clearer it becomes: Mahrez is the proverbial Mr. X for this summer, the final piece of the puzzle.

Given all that, it should come as no surprise that Leicester City holds virtually all the power in this negotiation, even after Mahrez reportedly agreed to personal terms with Roma; though that phrase is thrown around an awful lot in these rumors and effectively means nothing. Roma’s first attempt at securing Mahrez, a piddling €23 million offer was “politely” declined by Leicester because, well, because it was significantly below his market value.

Mahrez’s true value is a bit hard to discern because it seems as though Leicester is willing to shift the price point depending on the club in question: one price for an intraleague transfer and one for a move abroad. While that’s pretty standard, it makes it hard to evaluate Roma’s first salvo in this negotiation—were they way off? Pretty close? Getting there? Who knows.

Well, the latest scuttlebut has seen Roma prepping a €30 million + €5 million in bonuses deal, which would seem like a tremendous improvement over their initial offer, and one that might tempt Leicester given Mahrez’s desire to leave the club.

But, not so fast. With Arsenal finding it tough to secure Thomas Lemar, the prevailing wisdom would see them turn to Mahrez as a Plan B, ditto for Barcelona. Should the Catalans cash in on one of the world’s most popular and talented players, Neymar, there is a rumor floating around that they’d turn to Mahrez as a cheap and quick alternative; boy, that must be nice.

In any case, with this rumor increasingly likely to stretch well into August, Roma should be imbued with a fresh sense of urgency as the more financially fit clubs in the global game are starting to see Mahrez as a legitimate option.