When it became clear that Kostas Manolas was not long for the Giallorossi shirt, there was no doubt that Gianluca Petrachi would be completely overhauling Roma’s defense during his first mercato. The first part of that overhaul now looks to be finalized, with Gianluca Di Marzio and RomaPress both reporting that Atalanta center-back and Italian international Gianluca Mancini will be joining Roma in the next 24 hours. The deal will be a classic prestito con obbligo di riscatto, with the Giallorossi paying €2 million to loan Mancini, €19 million to purchase him outright following the 2019-2020 season, and €5 million in potential bonuses. A price tag of €26 million for Mancini seems about right, and the way Petrachi has spread out the payment will do wonders for Roma’s checkbook this summer (in the same way that the Bryan Cristante loan-to-buy plan afforded i Lupi some flexibility last summer).
This transfer wasn’t exactly one of Walter Sabatini’s Night Moves; Roma had reportedly agreed to a deal for Mancini six months ago, when one Ramón Rodríguez Verdejo was still running the show at Trigoria. Yet just because we’ve been hearing about this transfer for what seems like forever doesn’t mean that it’s not a significant coup. At only 23 years old, Mancini has proven himself to be the archetypal modern center-back. He’s comfortable on the ball, can initiate attacks from the back, and even has a bit of a nose for goal. In all honesty, watching his highlight reel gives me flashbacks to Mehdi Benatia’s wonderous season at Roma; hopefully Mancini’s career with the Giallorossi lasts a bit longer and doesn’t end with as much poison, but if Mancini can replicate Benatia’s class, this signing will be worth every nickel.
Although the potential signing of Toby Alderweireld may have more immediate impact on Roma’s ability to contend, signing Mancini is just as large a statement of intent. Roma is continuing to pick up intriguing Italian players who look to be part of a new golden generation for the Azzurri. If the Giallorossi can ward off the petrol-clubs when they inevitably come calling for Pellegrini, Cristante, Zaniolo, and Mancini, the next cup-winning side for Italy will be filled with denizens of the Eternal City.
Mancini’s medical will be tomorrow, after which he will sign a five year, €2 million a year contract with the Giallorossi. Until then, Forza Gianluca, and welcome to Rome.