Sky Sport Italia (via ForzaRoma) reports that Roma and Marseille have agreed to the transfer of Cengiz Ünder based on a loan with €8 million obligation to buy. The deal reportedly includes two million in bonus fees that could head towards Roma over the next season, and a percentage of any eventual future sale of Ünder by Marseille. Ünder’s transfer puts a definitive end to his stay in the Italian capital and clears some room on the annual expense bill for Tiago Pinto to green-light a new incoming signing.
The numbers involved in this deal are a significant climb down from the club’s former estimation in Ünder’s career. It was only last summer that Roma struck a loan with Leicester City that included a €25 million option on the Turkish forward. Such a fee meant that Roma figured Ünder was set to explode to the next level, in the most competitive league in world football. That didn’t happen, as Leicester manager Brendan Rodgers was direct about Ünder’s lack of commitment when it came to the defensive phase of the game.
That missing element in Ünder's game has effectively put an end to his time in Serie A. Over his four (or three playing) years in Rome, Ünder showed consistent year-on-year progress when it came to the attacking side of the game; versatile build-up play, drawing opponents onto him, running in behind defenders, and then eventually learning how to run through them. You name it, Ünder did it and sometimes better than any other young forward in Roma jersey by the 2019-2020 season.
Just look at performances against Cagliari and Lazio, among other games in that season, and you’d have to try hard not to notice opposition teams putting three defenders on Ünder every time. It was a far cry from the kid who first arrived in Rome with little else but a rocket left foot and a frail physique. But, despite the Turk becoming a more three-dimensional attacker, he was far too patchy in form and fitness for us to pretend like there aren’t major unresolved questions over his wasted talent.
Judging by the latest transfer numbers, Roma has given up on the idea Ünder can find positive answers to those questions anytime soon. Instead, they’ve resigned themselves to a future sale percentage in the faint hope that Cengo will deliver on his promise in the same manner that Gerson (who is once again set to become Cengiz’s teammate) has finally come of age this season. More than that, Roma has shaved 17 million off their asking price in barely 12 months (which would still represent a profit on the balance sheet for Roma) and has shorn themselves of Ünder’s €2.5 million-per-season (after taxes) salary in the process. That could make way for Tiago Pinto to green-light the incoming transfer of one of Roma’s summer targets. Will the new man be a midfielder or goalkeeper? Or both?
As far as goalkeepers go, it’s believed Roma and Marseille have agreed to a loan of Pau Lopez that could turn into an obligation to buy based on appearances, as we previously reported earlier this week. Sky Sport believes Lopez is already booked to take his medical in France this coming Tuesday, by which time he could be announced as a Marseille player in the resulting hours.