Widespread reports claim that one of the talking points of Roma’s recent managerial summit was to give the green light to a transfer assault on Tottenham’s central defender Toby Alderweireld. Now Corriere dello Sport has gone as far as claiming the Belgian international and Champions League finalist Alderweireld has struck a verbal agreement with Roma to play in Italy next season, leaving Roma the task of talking Spurs into letting the defender move for as little as 10 million euros on a proposed 4-year 3.5 million a year euro deal.
We first touched upon this story last week, asking if Roma should take the plunge and risk making a player-plus-cash exchange offer with Zaniolo heading to London. The results of that poll were a resounding ‘No’ to saying goodbye to Zaniolo, but there was enthusiasm for Alderweireld coming to wear the Giallorosso jersey next season if it could be done as a straight transfer deal. The defender represents a significant step up in big-game experience and quality for Roma’s backline.
The only way to justify Roma going for the Spurs centre-back is on purely footballing terms, which is refreshing to say about a Roma transfer story. But there’s still the financial side of it, as the 30-year-old Belgian’s minimum fee release clause of 28 million euros isn’t justifiable on Roma’s annual expense bill—even if it is payable in three different installments over two years.
No matter how you slice it, that’s a significant weight on Roma’s budget if Tottenham can’t be convinced to let their man go for less. And that’s before you get to the fact Roma have to offer him a playing contract running till Toby is 34 years of age. Nonetheless, going after experience in defence is what you ideally want; Roma’s sporting director Petrachi has reportedly been unconvinced by alternative defensive target Gianluca Mancini ever since the club suggested he continue talks with Atalanta where Monchi left off last January.
The doubts over Mancini are understandable: The newly-minted Italy international defender has a lot of heart and good character, but is hardly considered to be the most talented of Atalanta’s ranks as Mancini has yet to specialise in... well, anything. If it hadn’t been for Marco Varnier’s unexpected injury last summer, Mancini wouldn’t have even gotten his big break at senior level. And it’s a huge credit to Mancini that he took the chance to be “Atalanta’s spare man turned breakout star” with both hands and then some.
So the question for Gianluca Petrachi remains: Do you go for an Italian kid with heart, character and the off-chance of becoming something big in Rome? Or do you go with proven technique, grit and experience in Toby Alderweireld?
Roma will be relying on the villainous Franco Baldini to work his sorcery on this deal, as Roma’s consultant has a meeting scheduled with Tottenham Hotspur chairman Daniel Levy tomorrow while Gianluca Petrachi talks to Alderweireld’s agent Stijn Francis. Francis has already let Roma’s DS know that Alderweireld is on board for playing in the Italian capital, as long as Tottenham honour their gentleman’s agreement to let the defender evaluate all his options as Alderweireld enters the last year on his current contract.
Spurs have an option to extend the defend’s stay automatically, but the club are said to be willing to let Toby make his own mind up as to the best way to play into his thirties. Whether Baldini goes into that meeting with Levy outright cackling with the Eye of Sauron in the background remains to be seen. But this will be the second time wicked-wizard Baldini has been involved in moving Alderweireld between clubs.
He brought the Belgian defender to London back in the summer of 2015, in the last months of Baldini serving as Tottenham’s sporting director.