With Dan Friedkin and the Roma management currently hashing out the final details in Milan, the Giallorossi’s ongoing ownership transfer saga looks to be nearing its conclusion in the next few days. It’s not surprising that as this tectonic shift in Roma’s finances nears reality, transfer rumors are emerging over who new ownership wants to bring in on the player side. The first player to look like a potential Friedkin Era signing is one that’s quite familiar to Romanisti, given his world-class performances in Serie A for most of the 2010s:
Yes, Mr. Dog-Relieving-Himself-On-The-Corner-Flag himself looks like he may be a priority for Roma in the summer mercato. Beyond that (and some other personality, uh, tics that I’m not a huge fan of), it’s easy to understand why Roma would make this move. Mertens is no spring chicken himself, but he would be able to provide at least a few seasons of agility and mobile attacking movement for Roma, something that Edin Džeko, as good as he is, doesn’t necessarily provide. It’s been said before that Sarri-ball is definitely similar to Fonseca Football®, and Mertens’ time with Sarri could mean that he’d hit the ground running at the Olimpico. He’d also provide the Giallorossi with an attacking option who comes into Trigoria with big club Serie A experience, which Roma could definitely use considering the youth and Serie A inexperience of many of Roma’s current attacking options.
The main drawbacks to signing Mertens are obvious: he’s on the wrong side of 30 and spent much of his career playing for Roma’s Neapolitan rivals. Personally, I’ve spent so long rooting against Mertens that it’d be incredibly bizarre to see him in a Roma kit; not as bizarre as seeing, say, Giorgio Chiellini in one, but close. Despite that, if Roma wants to ever be in the race for the Scudetto or, knock on wood, Champions League titles, they’ll need to find talent and experience wherever they can. Mertens certainly provides both of those in spades.
Beyond the potential signing of the diminutive Belgian, though, are larger questions concerning the mentality The Friedkin Group is bringing to owning Roma. Even though The Friedkin Group has a lot more money to burn than James Pallotta, it’s not entirely clear yet how much that will play into future transfer windows, stadium development, or scuffles with Financial Fair Play. It seems almost certain that the ownership change won’t result in the huge buys that fans of clubs like Manchester United, Barcelona, or Juventus are now accustomed to. Yet if the Giallorossi can get just a bit more to play with in the transfer kitty, without having to worry about selling key players to balance the books, it’s entirely possible that Gianluca Petrachi can buy more talent that is ready to win now and later. That would be a boon for I Lupi and their chances for silverware any given year. If these Dries Mertens rumors are followed up with similar types of targets, the Friedkin buyout may prove to be far more than a lateral move.