And the hits keep coming. It's only Tuesday and it's only, like, the second official day of the transfer season, but our transfer section is already bursting at the seams. While we offered you a bit of a reprieve this morning—discussing the importance of the Europa League—the rumor cycle waits for no one. While Roma were likely dealt a death blow in their quest to sign Nicolo Barella (he wants Inter, so it's fair to question his intelligence anyway), they're quietly making progress towards another young Italian international; a no non-sense defender at that.
With Kostas Manolas now wearing the blue of Napoli, Roma are in need of a central defender. Late last week we discussed the possibility of Marc Bartra, Real Betis’ Spanish center back, but now it seems as though the rumor cycle has swung back to January.
Back when parts of the world were blanketed with snow and our Champions League hopes were not completely dashed, Roma were in the market for some defensive reinforcements. With Manolas, Federico Fazio and Juan Jesus each suffering varying dips in form, Atalanta's Gianluca Mancini was seen as the ideal complement to that trio, and perhaps even a replacement for one or more of those names.
In the end, Monchi opted to do literally nothing during the winter transfer window, deciding to roll the dice with his ill-formed and oft-injured squad. And, well, we know how that went. And now that Manolas is gone, Roma need more than simple reinforcements on their back line; they need a new starter.
While we'll never truly know why Roma didn't pull the trigger on Mancini during the winter, his €25 million price tag may have played a role; even if the final price wasn't due until the end of the following season, Roma seldom invest that much during the winter. Ultimately, Roma's loss was Atalanta's gain, as Mancini was a fixture in their lineup throughout the spring, helping the Goddesses capture their first ever Champions League birth.
With Atalanta facing an unprecedented (for them) three-competition race next season, it would stand to reason they'd want to keep Mancini, but like most non-Juventus teams in the league, they have to make money anyway and at any time they can.
Over the past week or so, there have been some intermittent stories that pointed towards a transfer rift already appearing between Roma's new coach and director of sport, with the former wanting Bartra and the latter preferring Mancini, but the pendulum seems to have swung back towards Mancini.
Sky Sport (link via RomaPress) report that Roma and Mancini’s reps will meet this week (possibly tomorrow according to RP) with an eye towards completing a permanent transfer of the 23-year-old defender. While Roma approached Atalanta with that same €25 million offer from January, the rumor holds that the Giallorossi's offer remains some €5 million short.
So, what kind of centerback does €30 million buy on today's market?
Does an intuitive, hard tackling, goal-scoring 6'2” defender with a haircut you could set your watch to interest you? If so, you might want to invest in Mancini. This past season, Mancini made 32 appearances for Atalanta, scoring five goals and handing out two assists while completing nearly 83% of his passes; he also played every single minute for the Azzurrini at the U21 European Championships last month.
Make no mistake, Mancini is still a raw defender but just take a look at any of his highlight reels, he's got the goods: size, intelligence, tenacity and even a nose for goal.
I'm not sure where Roma are getting this €30 million from, but Mancini definitely fits the bill for this current Roma side: young, talented and Italian.