When Roma sells a player (they do that sometimes), it generally elicits one of two reactions: you either think the sky is falling and Roma will never be the same, or you use it as an opportunity to declare said player was overrated anyway. On July 19, 2013 Roma concluded a transaction that was almost unilaterally met with the first sort of reaction. When our teenage wonder Marquinhos was sold to PSG for the now quaint sum of €31.4 million, the Romaverse reacted like Humpty Dumpty falling off the proverbial wall; it took all the King's horses and all the King's men to put us back together again.
What we didn't know (at least not overtly) was that Roma had already replaced Plural (remember that nickname?) with Mehdi Benatia six days earlier. At that time, Benatia was a bit of a gamble; the talent was there, but he was hardly the picture of health with Udinese, but it didn't take long for Benatia to worm his way into our hearts. He was tall, graceful, intelligent and a threat on set-pieces. In one short season in Rome, Benatia emerged as arguably the best center-back in the league.
And then he was sold. And once again the sky fell down. But instead of a kings guard picking up the pieces, Roma turned to 23-year-old freak of a Greek athlete, Kostas Manolas. Blessed with strength and speed, Manolas was an instant fixture on the Roma backline, logging 30 league appearances (all starts) in his debut season.
The man we came to call Greece Lightning would register nearly 200 more appearances for the Giallorossi, endearing himself to Roma fans with his heart, hustle, hatred of Juventus and, of course, the Manolas Miracle, in which he delivered the final blow to Barcelona, sending Roma through to the semifinals of the Champions League in 2018.
And now, thanks to Roma's financial shortcomings, he's gone the way of Marquinhos and Benatia.
Kostas Manolas has completed a move to Napoli.— AS Roma English (@ASRomaEN) June 30, 2019
Ciao Kostas, thank you for your five years of service! pic.twitter.com/YOG7L0Hkke
Manolas’ much-discussed move to Napoli finally became official today, with Roma sending the 28-year-old to Napoli for €34 million plus an additional €2 million in bonuses. Do the math and Roma finally got their €36 million valuation for Manolas, while continuing their long-standing tradition of strengthening their rivals.
Manolas may not have had the preternatural talent of his two successors, but he was a leader and key piece of everything Roma has accomplished over the past five years.
And now comes the tall task of picking up the pieces...again.