Whether it was at the behest of Eusebio Di Francesco or Monchi himself, no one associated with AS Roma made any secret of their transfer market ambitions. Priority number one was obtaining a new right winger to replace the departed Mohamed Salah, not an easy task given that Salah was among the very best in the world at that position. From Lucas Vazquez to Suso to Quincy Promes, Roma was seemingly scouring the globe in their search for a new Salah, but the man closest to their heart was always Leicester City’s Riyad Mahrez.
For a variety of reasons the 26-year-old Algerian winger was the jewel of Roma’s eyes. He was young, talented and, for at least one season, a proven champion. However, the same traits that made him so desirable to Roma were the very same reasons why Leicester held so firmly to their preferred price point, believed to be anywhere from €45 to €55 million, depending on how keenly they sensed Roma’s desperation.
With all seven of his attempts rebuffed (that’s a rough estimate), Monchi issued a one-way ultimatum; close the Mahrez deal by midnight on the 15th or move on. We say one-way because Roma’s pursuit of Mahrez was precisely that; one way. By attempting to lowball Leicester for an entire summer, offering as low as 47% of his rumored value, Roma are not only emerging from this fiasco wingerless, but they look downright foolish.
In no way, shape or form did Roma have any leverage in this negotiation, yet they persisted in going the cheap route, hoping Leicester would give them some sort of magnanimous discount. And since Mahrez wasn’t enough of a diva to really dig his heels in, Leicester held tight because they, unlike Roma, don’t operate on shoestring budgets (as far as we can tell), so they weren’t exactly aching to sell a player for pennies on the dollar like Roma did with Salah.
So, here we are, five days before Roma opens up their new season and not only have they failed in their pursuit of Mahrez, they’ve left themselves precious little time to secure anyone for that vacant right wing spot. Couple that with the mini-mutiny that may or may not be currently fomenting around Trigoria, and we may be in for a world of trouble.
Ah Roma, will you never learn?
There is, of course, a better than average chance they continue to chase him because, you know, that’s what this house of cards is built on.