Say this much about Roma's new Director of Sport Gianluca Petrachi; he doesn't mince words. Though he’s only been officially on the job for three weeks, he's shown very little ambiguity when asked about Roma's transfer goals, and indeed Roma's current players. Yes, Nicolo Zaniolo needs to check himself before he wrecks himself (I'm paraphrasing there), and yes, we are interested in Gonzalo Higuain, what of it? Central defenders? Yeah, Fazio is okay and we're excited about Gianluca Mancini, but we still need one more.
No matter the subject, Petrachi has shown himself to be a straight shooter. So when he says Roma needed two center backs, we have no reason to doubt him. And for much of the summer it was assumed Tottenham's Toby Alderweireld was the apple of Petrachi's eye, and for good reason. Although he's not exactly young anymore, by nearly any measure Alderweireld is one of the games best defenders, and would certainly represent an upgrade over Roma's current stock.
But, much like Higuain, Alderweireld has shown little to no interest in leaving his current locale, leaving Roma with on other option than to keep shopping. Only this time around it appears as though they're keeping things local, turning their eyes slightly northwards to Turin, specifically towards Juventus’ Daniele Rugani.
Once the future of Italy's defense, Rugani, who is still just 24-years-old, has failed to live up to those enormous expectations, becoming a bit of a scapegoat for Juve fans:
This season is Rugani’s last chance. I’ve been defending him for too long. I’ve defended him better than he’s defended players. Wake up, Daniele— Tony Mellace ⚜ (@TonyMellace7) July 22, 2019
Rugani, Matuidi and Mandzukic I thank you for your time but goodbye— gobbodellajuve (@gobbodellajuve) July 21, 2019
How Rugani is still at Juve after these years is a mystery...he even got 2 new contracts in 2 months time— JUVENTUS BELGIUM (@JuventusBelgium) July 17, 2019
De Sciglio e Rugani saranno ancora nella rosa della Juventus la prossima stagione— deligtismo (@_micheela) July 21, 2019
There are many, many Tweets like these, most of which aren't fit for print, but suffice it to say, Rugani hasn't become the all conquering hero many Juve fans hoped he'd be when he burst onto the scene a few years ago. And now that Juve have purchased two younger center backs, Merih Demiral and (of course) Matthijs de Ligt, Rugani could be pressed for playing time, leading many to speculate about his future with the Old Lady.
Enter Roma. According to La Gazzetta dello Sport (link via Football Italia), Roma may be interested in taking Rugani off Juventus’ hands. Despite being seemingly redundant, Juve still value Rugani at some €30 million, which puts him just above Alderweireld's €28 million valuation.
Despite the vociferous objections of some Juve fans, there is still an awful lot to like about Rugani. For one, he’s just 24-years-old, which is still pretty young by center back standards. Secondly, he's got the size and athleticism one desires from a 21st century center back, and third, he's good with the ball at his feet, hitting on 90% of his passes and completing more than two accurate long balls per match in each of his past two seasons.
This rumor may ultimately prove to be non-sense—Demiral may be loaned out for the season anyway—but Rugani is stuck in an awkward sandwich, with more experienced players above him and two younger players threatening to relegate him to obscurity.
If Roma were to somehow find a spare €30 million laying around, hoping the proverbial change of scenery sparks something with Rugani could be a gamble worth taking.