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Tuesday Transfer Wrap-Up: Džeko, Smalling, And Friedkin’s Plans For Roma

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There are a lot of moving parts going on behind the scenes at Trigoria right now, but when will any of the rumored moves come to fruition?

Chris Smalling of AS Roma looks on during the Serie A... Photo by Nicolò Campo/LightRocket via Getty Images

The 119th season of Serie A is coming down the pike quickly, with only eighteen days remaining before the practically nonexistent summer break draws to a close. With that return approaching soon and The Friedkin Group finally having full control over Roma, the swirl of rumors surrounding Roma’s transfer market have reached a fever pitch. Here are a couple rumors that stand out above the rest.


Edin Džeko: Will He Stay Or Will He Go?

Sevilla FC v AS Roma - UEFA Europa League Round of 16 Photo by Wolfgang Rattay/Pool via Getty Images

The Rumor: In what seems like an perennial story at this point, there are a lot of rumors pointing towards Edin Džeko ending his tenure in Rome. Most of the rumors up to this point have seen him moving to Turin to link up with Cristiano Ronaldo and Andrea Pirlo, assuming that the Giallorossi can find an adequate replacement. While those rumors still are swirling, another team looks to be interested in The Bosnian Diamond’s services: Inter Milan. Inter has reportedly met with Džeko’s agent in recent days, and with other rumors indicating that Juventus may go in a different direction by signing Moise Kean, there’s enough uncertainty swirling around Džeko’s next destination that it’s anyone’s guess where he’ll be a month from now.

Jimmy’s Take: I’ve thought that Edin was gone for good from Rome many times before, but the fact that both Inter and Juventus are sniffing around the Bosnian makes me think that this is truly the last goodbye. Džeko’s move to Juventus reportedly hinges on Arek Milik moving to Roma, though, and considering that sending Cengiz Ünder, Alessio Riccardi, and 20 million euros to Napoli for Milik would be a mistake, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Džeko head to Inter instead. Add in the fact that Aleksandar Kolarov still looks set to move to Inter, and Antonio Conte is probably going to be one happy man in the next few weeks.

Of course, Džeko could end up staying at Roma and making this entire rumor firestorm moot. That’s why you have to love mercato madness.

Chris Smalling Continues to Push for Roma Return

Football Serie A Roma-Fiorentina Photo by Massimo Insabato/Archivio Massimo Insabato/Mondadori Portfolio via Getty Images

The Rumor: Enough digital ink has been spilled over Chris Smalling’s permanent move to Roma to write a sequel to War and Peace, but if Fabrizio Romano is to be believed, we may finally be getting to the light at the end of the tunnel on this transfer.

Romano is a Grade-A reporter on these kinds of things, and if that new bid comes from Roma and Manchester United does finally agree to selling Smalling, Roma’s center-back trio will arguably be set for at least a couple seasons. Ibañez, Mancini, and Smalling could help create one of the best defenses in Serie A next season, assuming the injury bug doesn’t strike, and keeping those players under contract will make the potential loss of Aleksandar Kolarov a whole lot easier to take.

Jimmy’s Take: I’ll let George W. Bush take this one:

I’d love it if Smalling was back in Rome as soon as possible, but Manchester United have repeatedly made Roma’s life difficult during negotiations to get the Englishman to Italy permanently. You could even argue that their obstinance over Smalling’s permanent move kneecapped Roma’s ability to go far in the Europa League this summer. I hope Smalling is back soon, and if it’s for a transfer fee of under 20 million euros, Roma will have fought well for the proper price.

Priority #1 of The Friedkin Group? Renew Zaniolo and Pellegrini

Roma v Juventus - Serie A Photo by Matteo Ciambelli/NurPhoto via Getty Images

The Rumor: A lot of Romanisti have been disappointed that The Friedkin Group hasn’t hired a new Director of Sport and given him the keys to Dan Friedkin’s Scrooge McDuck-ian vault just yet, but new rumors suggest that TFG’s priorities are becoming clearer to those working for Roma. Priority #1? Handing extensions to the Romulus and Remus of 2020s Roma, Nicolò Zaniolo and Lorenzo Pellegrini. Pellegrini’s renewal would be largely to remove a 30 million euro release clause that is quite obviously below his market value, while Zaniolo’s second renewal in two years would be to assure him that he is the centerpiece of The Friedkin Group’s new Roma.

Jimmy’s Take: If TFG is able to make these renewals a reality and keep the non-Roman wolves away from Zaniolo and Pellegrini for another couple seasons, it would be a massive victory for everyone involved. Zaniolo has only scratched the surface of his potential as a player; when Francesco Totti called him the “most crystal clear talent of the new generation”, it wasn’t an overstatement, and making sure the Italian continues to play in Rome will help Roma grow, both on and off the pitch. As for Pellegrini, he’s been the subject of some jeering from Romanisti recently because he hasn’t reached the heights of Daniele De Rossi or Francesco Totti just yet. He’s still only 24, though, and given the leadership role he plays in the side, it wouldn’t be the worst thing to keep him on at the club for the long-term, even if other midfielders are better than him.

Priority #2 of The Friedkin Group? Go Young, Cut The Deadwood

FC Internazionale U19 v AS Roma U19 - Primavera 1 Photo by Marco Luzzani - Inter/Getty Images

The Rumor: Once TFG handles the extensions of Zaniolo and Pellegrini, their next priority is to reportedly get rid of the old and highly-salaried elements of the squad. Some of these moves are ongoing, with Davide Santon, Patrik Schick, Aleksandar Kolarov, and Diego Perotti all looking as if they won’t be playing for Roma next season. Beyond those names, Roma is reportedly looking to move on from Robin Olsen, Juan Jesus, Federico Fazio, players of varied quality but one shared characteristic: they’re closer to the ends of their careers than their beginnings.

Jimmy’s Take: Much like The Friedkin Group’s Priority #1, I’ll be happy and impressed if they can pull this off. Every club wants to sell deadwood whenever they can, and every club wants to find young replacements for older players on the decline. In fact, one of Roma’s major problems recently has been their inability to sell at the right time. The good news is that the folks running Roma’s transfer campaign seem to understand that there are good prospects who can fill the cleats of older players at the club already; one recent rumor states that once Kolarov is sold, Roman youngster Riccardo Calafiori is most likely to be the left-back of the future for the Giallorossi. Those are the kind of moves Roma needs to make in the era of Financial Fair Play; get profits when you can, cut bait when you need to, and promote academy players on small(er) contracts whenever possible if they can truly succeed in Serie A.


We'll have more on the Aleksandar Kolarov and Federico Fazio rumors tomorrow. Stay tuned!