Don't say we didn't warn you. Just last week, while wrapping up Roma's 2021 summer transfer market, we thought we'd have maybe a week before the winter/summer 2022 transfer rumors started rolling in. And here we are a mere five days later and the Corriere dello Sport has already singled out Roma's next transfer target: Sardar Azmoun.
The 26-year-old Zenit St. Petersburg striker isn't new to the Roma rumor mill, having been intermittently linked with the Giallorossi all summer, but the CdS didn't mince words earlier today:
According to their reporting, Azmoun, who will be a free agent come June 2022, has already been identified by Tiago Pinto and José Mourinho as the club's likely first signing this summer. Azmoun, who has absolutely obliterated the competition in the Russian Premier League to the tune of 41 goals and nine assists over his last 58 appearances, has been an object of Mourinho's affections since he was with Spurs and could be an ideal candidate to replace the soon-to-depart Borja Mayoral this summer, whose two-year loan from Real Madrid expires on June 30, 2022.
Azmoun, an Iranian international, has spent his entire career in Russia but has entertained the notion of playing in one of Europe's major leagues for several years now, coming close to joining Lazio and Bayer Leverkusen in recent seasons. While those moves fell apart for a variety of reasons, if the Corriere is correct, Azmoun will make the leap to Serie A this summer, linking up with Mourinho and the Giallorossi on a free transfer, possibly as soon as late June or early July 2022.
With the club investing a potential €65 million in two forwards this summer—Tammy Abraham and Eldor Shomurodov—it's fair to question whether another striker is really a priority, but as Mourinho suggested recently, any club worth its salt (and certainly one with legitimate ambitions) needs three strikers. And with Shomurodov's ability to play out wide, it's not inconceivable to think that Mourinho could use all three forwards in any given match.
Besides, if Pinto is able to land a striker with Azmoun's scoring record on a free transfer and Mourinho can manage three strikers at once, then this really is a no-brainer.