While potential midfield upgrades have dominated Roma’s transfer rumors all summer, the defense has been fairly quiet—particularly center-back. And even though Roma does have four established players in the position already, the error proneness of Ibanez and Mancini coupled with Mourinho’s switch to a back three has many questioning whether the Giallorossi needed extra cover there as well.
Also, considering Roma’s quartet of defenders are all right-footed, a left-footed, ball-playing center half was the profile many saw as a need for Mourinho’s roster. Feyenoord’s Marcos Senesi has been linked with the Giallorossi since the teams’ Conference League Final two months ago, but nothing concrete has come about.
However, today a new name emerged and it is being reported by both Gianluca Di Marzio and Fabrizio Romano, which means the chatter certainly holds some weight.
Dan-Axel Zagadou is a 23-year-old, left-footed center-back who has spent the last five seasons with Borussia Dortmund after coming through the PSG Academy. Despite his fairly young age, particularly for a center-back, Zagadou comes with a fair bit of experience having played over 4,000 Bundesliga and 1,000 UCL minutes for Dortmund.
At 6’5”, Zagadou is a big bodied defender who is a monster in the air, ranking in the 98th percentile at his position for aerial balls won (4.66/90 mins) in Europe’s big five leagues. Additionally, his passing stats are also very impressive ranking in the 99th percentile for passes attempted (89.37/90 mins) and completing 89.2% of them. Plus, he ranks in the 93rd percentile for progressive passes (4.58/90 mins) and progressive carries (5.14/90 mins), which shows that he can be the ball-mover in Roma’s rearguard.
Considering he’s available on a free, this looks like a low risk, high reward scenario financially. However, buyer beware. Despite his impressive numbers and physical attributes, there is some room for caution with Zagadou. He has missed 83 games and a collective 603 days through injury in his five year stint with Dortmund.
What are your thoughts? Is this the right move to complete Roma’s rearguard? Is the youngster’s potential high ceiling worth the risk of his injury history or should Roma look to a more veteran profile?