Just a day after we named him Roma's fifth-best U-23 player, it appears as though Cengiz Ünder is about to be a former Roma player. According to La Stampa and other Italian outlets, the 23-year-old winger is close making the leap to the Premiership, joining up with Leicester City on a loan with a mandatory option to buy.
The report, initially floated by La Stampa, has since been picked up by several other Italian journalists, but the deal should be structured as an initial €3 million loan with a mandatory €25 purchase due next summer.
#Leicester are in very advanced talks to sign Cengiz #Under. #Foxes offered a loan with obligation to buy (€25M) to #ASRoma, which are ready to accept the bid. Contract until 2025 (€3,5M/year). Also #HerthaBerliner want the winger, but they offered only option to buy. #LCFC— Nicolò Schira (@NicoSchira) September 16, 2020
As you can see, Leicester jumped the Ünder queue ahead of Hertha Berlin because they were willing to purchase Ünder outright next June, while other clubs were hoping to angle a loan plus option.
It's a bit of an unceremonious ending for a player many thought was destined to be Roma's next star player, but by grabbing €28 million for him, the Giallorossi stand to almost double their initial investment in Ünder.
With a lightning quick first step, agility for days and a rocket for a left foot, Ünder exploded on the scene for Roma in 2017. Arriving from Istanbul Başakşehir on a €14.25 million move, only the most ardent fans of Turkish footballer were familiar with the then 20-year-old winger, but with eight goals and three assists in all competitions that season, Ünder looked like the electric inverted winger Roma had so desperately craved.
But then came the injuries. Troubled by a series of muscular tears and strains, Ünder would miss 24 matches over his next two seasons in Rome, a span that also included multiple changes in managers, putting Ünder in an even more precarious position.
Nevertheless, Ünder clawed his way back into Roma's good graces in 2018-2019, scoring three goals and providing seven assists in only 1,375 league minutes. However, he was unable to build off that momentum once Paulo Fonseca took over, spending time on the injured list early in the season and never really fully grasping Fonseca's tactical demands.
Still, as we pointed to yesterday, Ünder still oozes class and potential; it's hard not to when you're as explosive as he is. But with just 873 minutes this past season, the writing was on the wall: Ünder simply wasn't part of Fonseca's plans.
If this move comes to pass, Roma fans will always be left to wonder what if: what if Ünder were healthy? What if EDF were never sacked? How different might Ünder's time in Roma have been?
As it stands, Ünder's Roma career ends with 83 appearances, 17 goals and 13 assists. We'll continue to follow this story if and when it becomes official, but you have to like Ünder's chances of success in the speed-based Premiership.
For the club, doubling their investment on a player they no longer value is solid business any way you spin it.