If Granit Xhaka's long-rumored move to Roma does indeed fall through, we certainly can't blame Xhaka. With the Swiss midfielder making no secret of his desire to work with José Mourinho at Roma this season, many journalists felt it was only a matter of time before the 28-year-old Arsenal midfielder swapped European capitals. With Xhaka reportedly willing to forgo certain bonuses to hasten his move to Roma, he’s done everything in his power to grease the wheels—to no avail.
With Roma unwilling (or perhaps unable) to meet Arsenal's rumored €20 to €22 million asking price, the Gunners have reportedly pulled an about-face, offering Xhaka a new deal to extend his stay in North London. While that may be a rather public negotiating ploy from Arsenal, with Xhaka reporting for duty last week, this may be no ordinary bluff.
If Xhaka's dream move to Roma is indeed dead and buried, Giallorossi GM Tiago Pinto is wasting no time compiling a list of alternatives. According to La Gazzetta dello Sport, Roma may look to AZ Alkmaar's Teun Koopmeiners or Dortmund's Thomas Delaney to bolster their midfield options.
Koopmeiners, a 23-year-old Dutch midfielder, has spent his entire career with Alkmaar but really found his groove over the past two seasons, scoring 30 goals and chipping in 10 assists in 70 appearances in all competitions. Valued at approximately €17 million, Koopmeiners is both younger and cheaper than Xhaka, though Roma may face stiff competition from Atalanta for his services.
Delaney, meanwhile, is an almost 30-year-old Danish midfielder with more than a decade of top-flight experience under his belt. While his attacking record isn't quite as impressive as Koopmeiners, he is a defensive dynamo and could be the kind of no-nonsense defensive bulwark Mourinho may crave to shield his defense.
While sources speculate that Roma is willing to wait another two weeks to iron out the Xhaka deal, these two viable alternatives may not be on the market by mid-August, so Mourinho and Pinto may be pressed into a decision sooner rather than later.
As always, stay tuned.