Sorry, Nzonzi. It was fun discussing your AWOL status for a few minutes, but the transfer market waits for no one. While Edin Dzeko has filled up the transfer headlines since the end of the season, we've long assumed that Kostas Manolas would be the first big domino to drop. With a reported €45 million deficit to be met by June 30th, Roma needed to make a quick cash grab, and while Dzeko could have netted that figure a few years ago on his lonesome, no one is paying that much for an aging striker. Enter Kostas Manolas.
Roma's 28-year-old Juve punching, miracle goal scoring centerback may not set the market for defenders, but thanks to his experience, strength, and blinding speed, Manolas has long been one of the league’s best defenders and was always likely to fetch at least €30 million on the open market.
For weeks now we've been discussing Manolas’ rumored move to Napoli, but with little in the way of updates (to say nothing of actual progress) it seemed like talks had stalled. Roma, while interested in some of Napoli's make weight offers (most notably Dries Mertens and Amadou Diawara), wouldn't (and probably couldn't) budge from their €36 million valuation of Manolas, a figure Napoli was hesitant to meet.
Well, it appears as though that puzzle has been solved:
According to Di Marzio, Roma and Napoli have reached an accord for Manolas, one that will see Napoli pay €34 million for the Greek defender, with a further €2 million coming in bonuses. This portion of the deal will be registered prior to June 30th, thereby enabling Roma to put the funds towards their mythical €45 million deficit.
The interesting wrinkle to this arrangement will see Roma pay €18 million for Diawara, plus €2 million in bonuses, but won't be registered until after the 30th, allowing Roma to put this €20 million on the 2019-2020 rolls.
We'll update this story once it become official, but now that Roma have seemingly lost a defender and gained a midfielder, I'd expect a combination of corresponding moves in those two areas.
Either way it seems like Manolas’ five year run in Roma is done and dusted. Lasting a half decade under this administration is a feat in and of itself, but Greece Lightning is one of the best defenders the club has had over the past two decades, and while he's not perfect, he won't be easily replaced.