For much of Serie A's abbreviated summer vacation, common thought prevailed that Marash Kumbulla, Hellas Verona's 20-year-old Albanian centerback, was leaving the club after only one season, likely heading to the warming embraces of Antonio Conte and Inter MIlan. For reasons unknown, that move never materialized, leaving Kumbulla's immediate future uncertain.
However, given everything we know about The Friedkin Group's style of business (or don't know, to put it more aptly), Roma may have been angling for Kumbulla all along. And whether their leg work began weeks ago or just within the past 72 hours, it worked:
Moments ago, the club officially unveiled Kumbulla as a Roma player, who they will acquire initially on a two-year loan, with multiple Roma prospects heading in to Verona on their own two-year loans.
Per the official release:
As part of the negotiations, two-year loan arrangements for players Mert Cetin, Matteo Cancellieri and Aboudramane Diaby to go in the opposite direction and join Verona have also been agreed.
When the costs of all loans are weighed against each other, the net cost to Roma is €2 million.
The overall transaction also includes various obligations, based on the meeting of certain targets, to make all four transfers permanent.
Assuming the four deals are all completed, the net cost to the Giallorossi will be €13.5m.
The deal for Kumbulla also includes a number of specific performance-related bonuses, based on the achievements of both the player and the club, that are worth up to a maximum of €3.5m.
Should the conditions be met to make the transfer permanent, Kumbulla has agreed a contract with the club that runs until 30 June 2025.
That's definitely a more complex deal than we imagined just a mere 24 hours ago, but by including those three young players, Roma were able to drastically cut down the actual cash exchange in this deal. While we were pretty intrigued by Çetin's potential, Kumbulla is clearly the superior player at this point, so losing out on Çetin is essentially a wash.
A product of Verona's youth academy, Kumbulla made his professional debut during with a 17 minute came during 2018-2019 season, but really broke through to the first team this past season, making 26 starts in all competitions for the Mastiffs.
Kumbulla will join an incredibly young back line in Roma, liking up with 21-year-old Roger Ibañez and 24-year-old Gianluca Mancini, as well as (for now) veterans Federico Fazio and Juan Jesus.
Hopefully, we'll have time before the season to really delve into what makes Kumbulla such an intriguing prospect, but as you can see in the video below, he's got the goods, showing an impressive sense of timing, space and anticipation, in addition to some pretty slick tackling technique; you'll notice how seldom he goes to ground and how composed he is when dispossessing in the defensive third.
It was an unexpected signing, but Roma's capture of Kumbulla could be a game changer for a Roma side that seems to be getting younger by the day.