Just last week Roma had two big question marks heading into the Serie A season.
- Who will be the starting striker?
- Who will Gianluca Petrachi bring in to shore up the defense?
Well, the first question was answered, somewhat surprisingly, when Edin Dzeko signed a contract extension. With that, Roma no longer has a need for a starting striker. However, with the start of the Serie A season around the corner and the close of the market soon after that, the second question remains unanswered.
Just last week, it appeared that Roma was close to signing Juventus’ Daniele Rugani and days later had a deal in place for Liverpool’s Dejan Lovren. Yet, neither happened. The Lovren deal fell apart last minute and Roma remains with just three center backs on the roster.
There have been rumors that Petrachi could again turn to Rugani. But reports say that the Lovren deal is all but dead. Yet, something tells me that he’s been working the phones elsewhere, as well. Which leads me to the question: Could Petrachi look to Torino for a center back?
Roma’s current DS knows the Torino roster better than just about everyone, having served in the same role at Torino for a decade. He built that squad, he’s scouted each and every one of those players in-depth, and watched them on a day-to-day basis in training and on match day. He knows what they’re all about.
Torino currently have a glut of center backs on the roster to fill the demands of manager Walter Mazzari’s preferred 3-5-2 and could potentially shop one to help fund a move to fill other needs. They have been linked with Napoli’s Simone Verdi while Fiorentina has been linked with one of their center backs, Kevin Bonifazi. So, if Torino are willing to offload a center back, could Petrachi convince them to sell someone other than Bonifazi?
The Granata currently have players on their roster who likely fit the bill of what Paulo Fonseca has asked for to complete the defense.
“The next Roma central defender must be experienced and be quick while knowing how to play compactly.”-Fonseca
The intriguing options that fit that bill: Armando Izzo and Nicholas Nkoulou. They’re both experienced in their late 20’s and neither has the cinderblock feet of Federico Fazio. The duo had strong campaigns last season under Mazzari, helping Torino to a Europa League spot.
And there it is. The first potential stumbling block to a deal for either player. Torino is wrapped up in the qualifying stage of Europa League and face Wolverhampton over the next two weeks. It might be a big ask for Mazzari to deprive himself of one of his two best defenders in the midst of a home-and-home with the Premier League side. Could Roma afford to wait and see if Torino is eliminated by Wolves and becomes more willing to cash in on one of the two?
Another potential stumbling block would be the icy relationship between Petrachi and his ex-boss, Torino President, Urbano Cairo. It’s well documented that Cairo doesn’t like the way Petrachi left the club. With this in mind, Petrachi would have to smooth things over with Cairo in order for a deal to happen.
Then, of course, there’s the money. Torino would likely look for a large sum for both players, especially considering Izzo just signed a four year extension this summer. Izzo and Nkoulou are both valued €20 million, according to transfermarkt.com. However, considering the circumstances, one assumes Toro’s asking price could possibly be double that.
While the price tags may be a bit elevated, Petrachi may have more to spend with Dzeko re-upping his deal. If Roma’s pursuit of Icardi ever took off then they would’ve likely had to throw an extra €40-50 into a player swap with Inter. That money is now unnecessary, plus Dzeko’s wages are millions less than what Icardi would’ve earned. Assuming, Roma had that money to invest in Icardi, spending it on a top notch defender might be a better allocation of resources.
All things considered, a deal for either Izzo or Nkoulou looks like it could be difficult to pull off. However, if Petrachi could convince Torino to part with one one of them, Roma’s defensive problems would be solved. Izzo or Nkoulou partnering Gianluca Mancini could set Roma up nicely for the next few seasons.