When it comes to getting their players to sign on the dotted line, Roman contract renewals are more precarious than a toddler holding grape juice on a white sofa. While grape juice is delicious and somewhat nutritious, a plastic slip cover can only do so much to protect against the wrath of a thirsty three year old; sooner or later the cup will run over. The funny thing is, I'm not even sure who the toddler is in this metaphor, Roma, the player, or the agent.
Figurative language aside, Roma have been locked in contract negotiations with two of their best and brightest players, 19-year-old wonder-kid Nicolo Zaniolo and leading scorer Stephan El Shaarawy. For Zaniolo, the renewal would represent a good faith effort from Roma to lock down a rising star, forestalling the advances of seemingly every club in the world for the time being, while inking SES to a new deal is just good business; he's in the prime of his career and has emerged as Roma's most efficient attacking threat.
However, as these things so often go, it's far from a cut and dry affair. Ironically enough, in each instance it's a matter of a few hundred thousand euros keeping the sides apart, though the relative merit of that extra cheddar can reveal a lot about how one views each player.
For Zaniolo the divide is estimated to be some €300,000, with The Kid's camp holding out for an even €2 million while Roma are offering €1.7 million. While that €1.7 million does represent a nearly 300% raise, given Zaniolo's astronomic rise this season, not to mention the subsequent interest he's drawn from abroad, he's well within his right to exercise what ever leverage he can muster, and quite frankly he'd be foolish not to.
The chasm in negotiations for El Shaarawy is slightly wider, with Roma offering a reported €2 million and SES seeking €2.5 million, which would put him on par with Federico Fazio and Patrik Schick. Let that sink in for a second; El Shaarawy, the club's best and most effective attacking threat, is struggling to get paid as much as led footed defender and a €42 million disappointment. If Roma insist on low balling El Shaarawy over the measly sum of 500 grand they risk losing perhaps their only game-changing threat.
The Zaniolo and El Shaarawy negotiations provide an interesting case study in negotiating tactics. Radja Nainggolan has become a somewhat divisive figure among Roma fans, but he was correct in his assertion about Zaniolo last week when he spoke of his lack of experience and preached patience before anointing him the next big thing. Sure, Roma will have to ward off numerous suitors, but does that necessarily mean they should triple his salary when he hasn't yet proved to be a consistent contributor?
On the flip side, El Shaarawy has proven himself to be the most dynamic scorer on the team, cracking double digit goals for the second time in his career. At 26-years-old, El Shaarawy has seemingly shaken the demons that plagued his early 20s to become a central figure in Roma's present and future, yet the club is dawdling over a mere 500 thousand? Shit, they should consider themselves lucky he's only asking for €2.5 million.
At this stage in the game, both players have warranted new deals (though for slightly different reasons), and while odds favor both deals getting done, these are two negotiations Roma must not trifle with.