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Could Mehdi Benatia Return to Roma This Winter?

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Seeking some solidity in defense, Roma are reportedly looking to patch things up with Mehdi Benatia, as the Bayern defender is reportedly interested in coming back to Roma.

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We are barely a week into October and Roma has already been thrust back into the thick of the transfer rumor cycle, which for Roma is an awful lot like the rock cycle; requiring millions of years and tremendous amounts of heat and pressure to make any actual changes. While yesterday's tidbit dealt with the offloading of an underperforming and controversial figure in Juan Iturbe, today's mini-rumor revolves around a universally beloved and perhaps overachieving asset in Mehdi Benatia.

Benatia, as you may recall, was purchased in the summer of 2013 as a replacement for wunderkind Marquinhos, whom Roma had offloaded (or would offload, I should say) to PSG. Benatia took to Rome like a duck in water, pairing with Leandro Castan to form arguably the continent's best central pairing and looked like one of the shrewdest investments the club had ever made.

From there, the story took a darker turn as, depending on who you believe, Benatia was either a sacrificial lamb to Roma's bottom line or a cold hearted mercenary hunting a better pay day. Whatever the case truly was, the rift between player and club grew larger and Benatia was eventually sold to Bayern Munich for €28 million, or roughly an Alessio Romagnoli plus change. Amazing how the market shifts in just a year, huh?

While Benatia has been no slouch for the Bavarians, he hasn't exactly ascended to another stratosphere, leading to some mild speculation that Bayern might be willing to part ways with him, especially now that Javi Martinez is back to full health.

Benatia has also dealt with some minor injuries of his own since making the switch last summer, contributing to a sparse appearance record. Since the beginning of last season, Benatia has made only 24 appearances for Bayern Munich (league and European), being sidelined with hamstring, thigh and calf issues. All of this is simply to say that Benatia hasn't been all the German giants expected, nor is he an indispensable part of their lineup.

This has, of course, led to speculation that Roma and Benatia are ready to bury the hatchet and hash out some sort of reunion, possibly as early as this winter. One thing is for certain, Bayern probably aren't too keen to lose much, if anything, on this deal, so I wouldn't expect Benatia to come for anything less than €25 million.

However, given the, shall we say, unsteady nature of Roma's defense, you'd take that deal every day of the week and twice on Sunday. Even if Castan's days are done, Benatia is the smooth and intelligent counter to Kostas Manolas' constrained aggression.

Benatia may not have been the cherry on top of Bayern Munich's sundae, but for Roma, he's the entire sweet shoppe.