Based on the early returns in our Roma State of the Union fan survey, most of you felt comfortable with the club selling Cengiz Ünder, at least compared to the prospect of losing Nicolo Zaniolo, Justin Kluivert or Lorenzo Pellegrini. And if La Repubblica's reports from yesterday evening are correct, you may soon get your wish. According to the Roma-based newspaper, Ünder has agreed to contractual terms with Roma's southern adversaries in Napoli; a deal that will reportedly pay him €3 million per season.
Despite those reports, don't go burning your Ünder shirts just yet; we've reported on more players “agreeing to terms with club X” than I care to remember over the years only to see the rumors disappear like dust in the wind. This deal is by no means done, but it is definitive step towards a transaction we've been tracking for months now; at least as definitive as a rumor can get nowadays.
Even with the relaxation of FFP rules for the 2020-2021 season (due to the economic impact of the pandemic), if you read the tea leaves, Roma will still be a selling club this summer. And for fans hoping to avoid a complete and total house clearing, not to mention the soul crushing blow of losing Zaniolo or Pellegrini, Ünder has become the de facto sacrificial lamb.
And a big part of that is the presence of Carles Perez, Roma's marquee winter purchase from Barcelona. Perez is 22-years-old just like Ünder and he's every bit as athletic and agile as his Turkish counterpart. As we usually do when comparing two players, we turned to the stats, so have a look at how Roma's post-millennial wingers stack up:
Ordinarily, we'd enter into a nuanced discussion of what these numbers mean in the broader context of tactics and player roles, but I want you to look at the very top of that graphic. Perez, a kid who was only brought in this past January, has nearly as many minutes as Ünder who is, crazy as it might sound, one of the more senior members of Roma's attacking core.
So while the two players offer up slightly different packages at the moment, there is little doubt that Perez's standing with the club is on the rise while Ünder's is, at best, fluctuating. Just don't tell that to Napoli.
With the two clubs likely engaged in talks behind the scenes, Roma are reportedly holding firm at a €30 million valuation for Ünder, which is reportedly some €5 million higher than Napoli are willing to offer, at least in a lump sum free from performance bonuses.
Accordingly, Napoli are trying to pull a page out of their Kostas Manolas playbook, offering a player as a make weight to reduce the cost of the transfer, just as they did last summer by including Amadou Diawara in the transaction that landed Manolas. In this instance, Napoli are hoping to knock down Ünder's price tag by including Kevin Malcuit, a 28-year-old right-back who has made all of five appearances this season.
With Jose Callejon likely leaving the club this season and Hirving Lozano failing to live up to expectations, Napoli reportedly see Ünder as their top right-wing prospect this summer. And with Roma desperate to raise funds in the wake of another disappointing domestic campaign, this could be a battle of wills.
So, who will blink first? Will Napoli pony up an extra five million to land their guy or will Roma cave out of financial desperation?
Either way, you can likely bet your bottom dollar that Ünder won't be part of Roma's plans beyond August.