José Mourinho and Arsenal midfielder Granit Xhaka have made no secret about their desire to team up this season in Roma. While the Mourinho-Xhaka Mutual Admiration Society hasn't exactly taken out a daily ad in the paper, thanks to a series of social media posts, likes, and all that jazz, the entire football world has operated under the assumption that The Special One and Xhaka would finally work in tandem at the Stadio Olimpico this season. However, what many assumed was a fait accompli has been waylaid by protracted negotiations between the two clubs over the past several weeks.
And that delay might prove quite costly for Roma, who now stand to miss out on Xhaka altogether according to reports from The Athletic UK.
According to Amy Lawrence of The Athletic UK, with Roma's inability to meet Arsenal's reported €20 to €22 million valuation for the 28-year-old Swiss midfielder, the Gunners may completely flip the script and offer Xhaka a new deal, extending his stay at The Emirates beyond his current 2023 expiration date.
While this could merely be a rather public negotiating ploy, with many assuming this deal was as good as done before Euro 2020 started six weeks ago, these repeated delays are starting to look more consequential by the hour.
Could Roma really let Mourinho's top target slip through their fingers over a matter of several million euros? The rumored five to seven million euro difference isn't small potatoes, but with Roma GM Tiago Pinto receiving praise for tailoring Roma's squad to Mourinho's needs, his inability to close that gap could mean the club misses out on the player Mourinho covets most.
If, however, that does come to pass, The Daily Telegraph believes Dortmund's Thomas Delaney would be the next man up:
Thomas Delaney, who is somehow Danish, is a 29-year-old defensive midfielder and has spent the bulk of his career in the Bundesliga, splitting his time between Werder Bremen and Dortmund. With a Transfermarkt value of €15 million, Delaney falls right in Roma's financial sweet spot.
We're now less than a month away from Serie A's opening day, and while Pinto has worked relatively quickly on Roma's other deals, prying Xhaka from Arsenal's steely grip is testing every ounce of Pinto's negotiating skill.