Monchi’s trip through Holland and Belgium set the transfer rumours blazing over the web this past week, and there’s no bigger name on Monchi’s radar than Genk’s giant midfielder Sander Berge.
Ok, maybe there might be bigger names - Thomas Partey, Donny Van der Beek and Sandro Tonali have all been linked with Roma recently - but this is a headline I’ve been waiting to post for a while. Sander Berge is the future. He may even be the now.
This season’s Roma already overtook FC Copenhagen as the tallest team in Europe (by 2017 measures) and Berge’s 6’4” frame wouldn’t look out of place in this Giallorossi midfield. Belying the Norwegian international’s figure is his technique on the ball; his long-range passing is eye-catching. Berge prefers to evade pressure on him by leaning on opponents before brushing past them with the ball and, more importantly for Roma’s immediate needs, Berge enjoys coming deep to collect the ball and take the pressure of playmaking off the backline.
He current plays as a right-sided midfielder in this season’s league-leading Genk team, but he makes his presence known all over the midfield engine room.
It’s believed Berge would be available at 15 million euros, though Genk’s title chase this season means any January move for the 20 year old is unlikely. Berge is not short of suitors, having been linked with a number of Premier League sides and being courted by Fiorentina for the best part of late 2018.
If Roma are to beat out the Viola’s interest, it’s more likely this transfer will be clinched in the summer of 2019. That, in itself, will spark the usual speculation about Daniele De Rossi’s future.
The only visible question marks over Berge are his inexperience in any European top 5 league and the time he likes to take on the ball - a typically anti-Di Francescan trait for a midfielder - but how would this be different from any other Roma midfield transfer target? Well, one man may stand out above Berge below.
But we’ll put in a highlights vid of Sander Berge all the same (sign him up!):
18-Month Loan of Julian Weigl Also Touted
An alternative arrangement for January is Monchi’s pursuit of Borussia Dortmund midfielder Julian Weigl. The German international midfielder is recovering from long-term injuries that put paid to his World Cup call-up last summer. Weigl was once labelled a dead-certainty to get signed up by Guardiola at City, but now his morale is taking a beating from losing his place in the Dortmund side to Axel Witsel.
Rumours persist than Roma are willing to give Weigl’s career a rebirth in the Italian capital, offering an initial 10 million euro 18-month loan to Dortmund for the player before taking up the right to make Weigl’s transfer permanent for a further 20 million euros in the summer of 2020.
Such a transfer would be an extravagant sum of money - by Roma’s standards - for yet another “fix em up” project. The short term gain is obvious: Weigl comes with trophy-winning experience and Champions League experience, to say nothing of his obvious talent and technique within the breakneck pace of Borussia Dortmund’s football.
But the potential long-term pains of this deal are just as evident, and we’ve been here before. If this move has any substance, then clearly Monchi is gambling on the potential stadium green-light, this January, changing Roma’s landscape in the immediate future.