For the first time in quite a while, it seems like the Roma rumor cycle is tilting in favor of players leaving Roma, rather than entering the Eternal hothouse, I mean city. Sure, we’re fresh off a summer in which Roma was fleeced for both Mohamed Salah and Antonio Rudiger, but even then, we spent an inordinate amount of time chasing Riyad Mahrez, Patrik Schick and a host of others, so when the rumors were balanced out, Roma was still in the black, but this winter has a decidedly bleaker feel to it, and I’m not even talking about the fact that places in North America were colder than Mars last week.
While potentially losing Bruno Peres to Benfica is no huge deal, the prospect of Kevin Strootman trading in his Roma red for that of Liverpool is a tougher pill to swallow. As we’ve discussed many times over the years, not only is Strootman an excellent midfielder, but he also seems to get the proverbial it; he understands the myriad, intangible reasons we all love this team so much. For those reasons and many more, Strootman has fostered a love among the Roma faithful traditionally reserved for the local crop; so to see him walk away is no small feat.
Further complicating issues is the matter of his declining performance. Strootman’s key indicators (key passes, chances created, passing volume and duel %) are all down (based on per 90 numbers) from last season. But is this a sign of true regression or merely a matter of his shifting, and some would say inappropriate, role under Eusebio Di Francesco vs Luciano Spalletti? Certainly the Dutch Jesuus looked as close to his former self as we’ve seen in years under Spalletti during the 2016-2017 season, so has he really fallen off a cliff or might there be a tactical reason behind his decline this season?
Well, if the Liverpool rumors are true, that question may prove academic. With all that Coutinho cash filling their coffers, not to mention the impending departure of Emre Can, Liverpool are reportedly fond of Roma’s steely jawed, combative midfielder. While no exact figures have been traded, or indeed even rumored yet, the original source of this rumor, Premium Sport, seems to think Strootman’s post match comments following the defeat to Atalanta have stoked the fires of this rumor, leading many to believe the once unthinkable is not only possible but likely.
If Strootman is indeed sold, the widely held belief is that Roma will pursue one of Lucas Torreira (Sampdoria), Hakim Ziyech (Ajax) or even Milan Badelj (Fiorentina), though the latter could prove cost prohibitive.
Either way, this is a potential transfer that should leave you feeling uneasy. From the moment he arrived in Rome, Strootman was heralded as the missing link in Roma’s attack, the guy around whom everything coalesced, and as we discussed, given his skill, commitment to the club, and dog like determination to return, his standing among the Roma faithful is beyond reproach; and that’s not something to be trifled with, particularly not if his resurgence can be fixed with a simple tactical tweak.
So, what do we think? Is there a price point at which you’d be okay with saying so long to Strootman?