José Mourinho hasn't even given his first official Roma press conference—nor even posed for the awkward airport scarf photo or the always dead-eyed, I-just-woke-up-but-let-me-hold-this “Mourinho 2024” shirt in front of this poorly lit LED screen picture—but the news this week has been awash with the myriad ways The Special One will remake the Giallorossi in his image.
Front and center in those stories is, naturally, the transfer market. Roma won't be able to turn over the entire roster of course, but Mourinho will likely require two to three key signings to truly implement his particular brand of pragmatic football. And a new striker is chief among the items on Mourinho's supposed wish list.
Roma's in-house options, Edin Dzeko and Borja Mayoral, each remain under contract for next season: Dzeko's contract expires in 2022 while Roma signed Mayoral on a two-year loan last summer, with purchase options available in the summer of 2021 and 2022. In that light, there isn't necessarily a pressing need at forward, but as is the case whenever a club brings in a new manager, few positions are safe.
The name at the top of Mourinho's striker wish list, and likely half the club’s in Europe now that he's become the joint-youngest ever player to score 19 goals in Serie A, is Fiorentina's Serbian striker Dusan Vlahovic. Thanks in part to that breakout season, Vlahovic, who once seemed like a relative bargain at €30 million, is now valued at roughly €60 million; territory only the richest of clubs can enter.
Vlahovic remains the dream but Andrea Belotti may be the reality. Belotti, Torino's 27-year-old striker, has seen his star dull since his own breakout season in 2016-2017 when he bagged 26 goals and Torino valued him at €100 million but he remains one of the most coveted names on the Serie A transfer market.
And according to Calciomercato, Roma, who have long been interested in Belotti, may have a bit of extra momentum on their side now that Mourinho is sitting on the Roma bench. According to CM, Belotti can be had for roughly €25 to €30 million and would command a salary of approximately €3.5 million—two neighborhoods Roma has visited frequently in recent years.
At this stage in the season, Mourinho's rumored striker targets are Vlahovic, Belotti, and PSG's Mauro Icardi. Each player brings a unique set of skills and challenges but Belotti may present the most enticing mix of production, potential, and cost.
If Roma truly wants to back up their Mourinho swoop with a splashy, intent-signaling signing they'd pony up the cash for Vlahovic, but Belotti wouldn't be a bad consolation prize, provided Roma can coax him away from a host of other suitors, including domestic rivals AC Milan.
We're still six or seven weeks away from the official opening of silly season, so expect the Mourinho-based rumors to narrow in focus as May gives way to June. But Belotti figures to remain front and center in Roma's plans.