As summer winds down and the 2020-2021 Serie A season approaches, the transfer market is starting to coalesce around the same handful of stories. Sure, the scope of rumors has broadened somewhat over the past 10 days or so to include more names, but the most persistent stories—Dzeko to Juve and Milik to Roma—continue to evolve with each passing day. The Arkadiusz Milik for Cengiz Ünder swap is nothing new, but the exact formula of that proposed transaction continues to transform, with the dollar amounts bouncing back and forth between €40 and €50 million.
And now this:
#Juve-#Dzeko, affare fatto. Ma tutto passa dall'accordo tra #Roma e #Napoli, a #DeLaurentiis non basta più #Under https://t.co/XJ0BQ2wwC2 pic.twitter.com/tARTNS9fV4— calciomercato.com (@cmdotcom) August 28, 2020
According to Calciomercato, Napoli are now requesting Cengiz Ünder and Roma up and comer Alessio Riccardi plus cash for the 26-year-old Milik. But here's the real kicker: Napoli value Milik at some €40 million but, according to this rumor, don't even weigh the combination of Ünder and Riccardi at €30 million, meaning Roma would have to fork over those two plus an additional €20 million for Milik.
Paulo Fonseca may have no immediate use for either Ünder or Riccardi, but this proposal is patently absurd. Let's run down Napoli's bargaining stance, shall we?
- Milik has one-year remaining on his deal
- Milik will likely play second fiddle to new signee Andrea Petagna
- Milik is only valued at €32 million per Transfermarkt
- He's been healthy the past two years, but we're still talking about a guy with a history of catastrophic knee injuries
- Milik only wants to leave Napoli for Juventus
- Juventus have either Edin Dzeko, Luis Suarez and even Moise Kean lined up, per the latest rumors
- Milik may want Juve there haven't been many credible links between the two
- Dzeko and Ünder remain under contract through 2022 and 2023, respectively, so Roma are under no real pressure to sell
- If Fonseca reverts back to his preferred 4-2-3-1, then suddenly Ünder and eventually Riccardi have more intrinsic value to Roma
- Ünder's current market value, per Transfermarkt, is €23 million. Roma would likely ask €30 million in any separate transaction, so let's split the difference and say he's worth €26.5 million. But, given his age and contract length, there wouldn't be much pressure for Roma to back down from €30 million.
- Riccardi, per Transfermarkt, is valued at €1.2 million. But let's be optimistic and say that, if Roma made it known he were available, they could ask for €2.5 million on his potential alone.
- Add that up and Roma would bring anywhere from €28.5 to €32.5 million in assets to this deal
So, if Roma really were considering an Ünder and Riccardi plus cash deal for Milik, including even €10 million in that deal is risky, to say nothing of €20 million. Given Milik's contract and the fact that the only team he wants (Juve) don't seem to want him, Napoli have practically no leverage in this deal.
Milik can gamble on himself and head into free-agency next summer while Roma can hope that Ünder bounces back this season and actually increases his market value. Considering all that, and everything we bulleted above, the only party with any real urgency in this situation is Napoli—Roma can and should wait this out.
Giving up two young assets plus €20 million in cash is a foolhardy proposition. And if this is truly the new administration’s first master stroke...well, I'm afraid its meet the new boss, same as the old boss.