The European summer transfer window slammed shut earlier this month, ending the months-long battle for the game's top talents, but football being the global game it is, not every federation wraps up their transfer season at the end of August, which is good news for a club like Roma who, despite finally freeing themselves from Javier Pastore's onerous contract, are still saddled by Steven Nzonzi's equally burdensome deal.
Signed in the summer of 2018, Nzonzi's four-year pact with Roma was almost doomed from the start. After making over 30 appearances in 2018-2019, the French midfielder has spent the past few seasons on loan, first with Galatasaray, for whom he made 10 league appearances, and then Rennes in Ligue 1, where he found a small measure of success, logging nearly 3,000 minutes during the 2020-2021 season.
While there was some initial optimism Rennes would opt to keep Nzonzi, the French club decided to let their option expire, which left Roma GM Tiago Pinto scrambling to find a new club for Nzonzi; or we should say, a new club with whom he'd be content to sign. They came close in late August when Qatari club Al-Rayyan showed interest in Nzonzi but the 32-year-old midfielder wasn't entirely convinced on life in the Qatari league.
But, according to multiple sources in Italy, there may be new hope on the horizon:
According to Gianluca Di Marzio, Nzonzi and his representatives will fly to Qatar tomorrow to discuss a transfer to Al-Rayyan, who made waves this week when they signed James Rodriguez from Everton. Di Marzio was careful not to suggest the deal was completed but remained optimistic that Nzonzi will sign on the dotted line before the Qatar transfer market closes on September 30th.
While Nzonzi's contract expires in June 2022, and Roma is willing to let him sign with Al-Rayyan for free, they could potentially save €6 million in salary (gross figures) on the remaining seven months of his four-year contract.
At this point, that is likely the very best Roma can do, so hopefully, Nzonzi will come to grips with his current reality and take the bag to sign with Al-Rayyan.
Updates to come.