As we approach the 2018 silly season, I once again assess my love-hate relationship with this time of year. On the one hand, since I live in the Northern Hemisphere, it at least means its summer, which means its ice latte season, but on the other hand that means oppressive humidity and the constant whirl of lawn mowers and leaf blowers in my quant little hamlet. With respect to the devils that plague the footballing part of my brain, it’s a little less cut and dry. Yeah, it’s fun to speculate and imagine a guy like Nicolo Barella or even Mario Balotelli in a Roma shirt, but the amount of pure bullshit rumors we’ll talk about over the next few months is enough to make your headspin.
Ultimately, I do love it because it cuts to the core of being a fan—rampant and irrational speculation about the team you love. Balotelli might cause Roma to implode, but have you seen the guy play!? He’s electric. Sure, Cagliari might not want to aide their mainland rivals, but Roma’s Euros are as pastel as anyone else’s so why wouldn’t they fork him over?
And while the Giacomo Bonaventura rumors we discussed earlier today were benign enough, as the afternoon wore on we were hit with both ends of the transfer barrell—a loosely parsed transfer rumor connecting Justin Kluivert to Roma and the nauseating notion that Kostas Manolas’ agent might be back channeling him to Real Madrid.
Given those extremes, let’s tackle them one at a time. First up, the Kluivert kid.
By now you’re all well aware of his CV. Kluivert, just 19-years-old, is the son of Dutch legend Patrick Kluivert and is the current bell of the Ajax ball, racking up ten goals and five assists in league play. Kluivert, a midfielder/winger (I just made a typo that said ‘swinger’, and who knows, maybe he is) is reportedly set to turn down a new deal from Ajax that would make him the club’s highest player, much to General Manager Edwin van der Saar’s chagrin.
While we can chalk this up to aspiration on Kluivert’s behalf, those who wish to sling arrows will point them towards his agent, Mino Raiola. Kluivert is indeed an intriguing talent, and while Roma reportedly has the inside track, Raiola might be pushing him towards Manchester United, so don’t go buying a knock off Kluivert kit just yet.
So that’s the good/exciting news, but this is Roma we’re talking about—there’s always a but. While the moves aren’t exactly connected, Roma will nevertheless have to reckon with FFP for this current fiscal year, and as such may be forced into another agonizing June 30th sale, with the sacrificial lamb purported to be Kostas Manolas, who may or may not be offered to Real Madrid as we speak.
This would be a bitter pill to swallow for me. Not only is Manolas one of the league’s best defenders, but he exudes everything I love about Roma—the passion, the swagger and the ferocity, but if this is what it takes to keep Alisson, I suppose the juice is worth the squeeze. Alisson has more prime years left than the 26-year-old Manolas, but if the club has to cobble together another €30 million in sales, I’d prefer they glean that from other areas.
Nevertheless, mark your calendars. Today is May 8th and I reckon we’ll have another four or five dozen of these stories before the end of August. And while I feel like we say this every summer, this time it’s more palpable—Roma has to get it right this summer; they are so close to making the leap, they can’t afford any missteps on the market.