One look at the increasingly tired and worn legs of Daniele De Rossi and Kevin Strootman tells you all you need to know about Roma’s midfield—it’s in dire need of fresh blood. De Rossi and Strootman are still capable players and have had stretches of solid if not fantastic football this season, but whether it’s age and accumulated miles (De Rossi) or the lingering effects of multiple surgeries (Strootman), Roma’s midfield needs a bit of youthful vim and vigor.
Whether it was Hakim Ziyech, Ante Coric, Mateo Kovacic or Bryan Cristante, Monchi seems to be searching far and wide to increase Eusebio Di Francesco’s options in midfield. Despite Roma’s enchanting and lucrative run through the Champions League, this remains a club with one eye firmly fixed on the bottom line, so when an intriguing name pops up on the free agent wire, you can bet Monchi’s ears perk right up.
And no, this isn’t another piece on Mario Balotelli, the talent we’re discussing today is a bit younger and far less, umm, notorious. Schalke 04 and 22-year-old German midfielder Max Meyer are reportedly parting ways at the end of this season, unable to agree to terms on a new contract, though it seemed to be an amicable split according to Schalke DS Christian heidel, “Transfers are a part of football. We will not make him a new offer, but there will be no bad blood.”
Although he’s just 22-years-old, Meyer has had a bit of an interesting career thus far. Debuting with Schalke at all of 17-years-old during the 2012-2013 season, Meyer originally profiled as an attacking midfielder (and ocassional center forward), a role he served for the first several season of his career, racking up 18 goals and 13 assists (all comps) in parts of four seasons. However, once Domenico Tedesco took over the reins at Schalke, Meyer was converted into a defensive/holding midfielder, which has effectively blunted his counting statistics and given the appearance of a down year.
However, with the likes of Arsenal and Liverpool ready to pounce, Meyer’s true potential isn’t exactly a state secret. If anything, this brief experiment as a holding midfielder may have actually made him more valuable. In addition to his attacking acument, Meyer can run a midfield, pinging back and forth between the boxes, absorbing incoming passes and orchestrating an attack from deep. Couple him with Lorenzo Pellegrini and perhaps even Ziyech, and EDF would have a remarkably flexible midfield to add around De Rossi and Radja Nainggolan, among others.
In addition to the usual intrigue and frustrations that come with the summer transfer season, Roma’s run through the Champions League has added a new layer of fascination to silly season—has the club’s increased exposure improved their reputation, and by extension their ability to recruit talent away from English clubs?