With a week and a half before the start of the new Serie A season, Roma have made no secret of their remaining transfer desires: they need a striker and a centerback. We've talked at length about the former, but at this point it seems like Roma are either keeping Edin Dzeko or winning the Mauro Icardi derby by default. As far as the centerback is concerned, this time last week it seemed like Daniele Rugani was a mere formality, with the 25-year-old Juventus player looking for a fresh start in the capital.
But that was last week, and as well all know rumors don't mean a thing till we see the awkward scarf photo. With the Rugani deal on ice, it seems as though Roma are pivoting towards Paulo Fonseca's preferred target, Liverpool's now fourth/fifth choice defender, Dejan Lovren. The 30-year-old Croatian has fallen down the pecking order at Anfield, slipping behind the likes of Virgil van Dijk, Joel Matip and now Joe Gomez, leaving both parties searching for a safe landing spot for the former Lyon and Southampton center back.
In truth, Lovren's place in Liverpool has been slipping for the past few years, falling from 2,500 league minutes in 2016-2017 to a mere 986 minutes in the "world's best league” last season. All of which has made him a prime candidate for the token late August transfer, as Lovren has reportedly caught the eye of Paulo Fonseca.
According to La Gazzetta dello Sport (link via Football Italia), Roma have engaged Liverpool in negotiations for the 30-year-old, with Roma taking Lovren on a one-year loan with an option to buy set at €15 to €16 million.
The knee-jerk reaction here is one of disgust, which is certainly understandable (there is absolutely nothing special about Lovren at this point in his career) but if we view this potential move for what it is—a cost cutting way to obtain a fourth centerback who can play Fonseca football—then it becomes...I don't know...more palatable?
Getting Lovren rather than Rugani or Armando Izzo is sort of like rocking up to the tire store expecting to get some Pirellis only to leave with boring and sensible all weather tires. After all, you're driving a Camry not a Maserati, let's not go crazy.
So, I don't know...should we at least be tepid towards this move or completely appalled? Is this the warm milk of transfers or another Nzonzi disaster in the making? If it's truly only a one-year loan with no mandatory option to buy, it's really only the opportunity cost of not getting Rugani that will haunt us; if nothing else, Lovren could be a replacement-level player for one season, so there is no harm in signing Lovren in and of itself.
All of Roma's purchases this season point towards one thing: they're giving the manager who/what he wants to complete his vision, and if Roma are changing course so abruptly towards Lovren, we can only assume Rugani didn't gel with Fonseca's tactics, which really makes Lovren the least objectionable late-August alternative, not necessarily the top choice.
Which isn't exactly inspiring, but it doesn't mean the skies will come crashing down either.