Every year there are one or two names that stick to Roma on the transfer mill like grim death. And for every one that actually comes to fruition (Edin Dzeko) there are, I don’t know, two or three dozen that don’t. Last year it was Riyad Mahrez and in years past it’s been everyone from Adrian Mutu to Lukas Podolski to Mattia Perin. Some of the rumors made perfect sense and some were complete fabrications, but each persisted largely due to the 24-hour news cycle.
There is, however, an even more pernicious sort of rumor, the one created and sustained by the player’s agent. And there is no agent more duplicitous than Mino Raiola, then man who nearly orchestrated a divorce between Gianluigi Donnarumma and AC Milan last summer. Raiola may have a lot of clout and some of the best names in the game on his rolodex, but he is a snake in the grass.
So, when you read stories connecting Mario Balotelli to Roma listen carefully for the hiss...it’s never far away. While his most ignominious client has (for the most part) reformed his image during his two year stint with Nice, you can’t shake the feeling that his impending return to Italy is being forced by Raiola’s hand.
For the past couple months we’ve been privy to several Balotelli-to-Roma rumors, and while it makes sense on a few levels, the path between Roma and Balotelli isn’t exactly clear. First there’s the matter of playing time. With Edin Dzeko still producing at a high level and with Patrik Schick desperate for consistent and substantial playing time, there may not be a clear and defined role for Balotelli, barring a permanent shift to a two-striker system.
Then there is the real whammy, his reported wage request. According to reports from Mediaset Premium, Raiola is attempting to broker a deal between his client and Roma, one that would see Balotelli earn €5 million (net) per season. At this rate, not only would Balotelli be Roma’s best paid player, but he’d be among Serie A’s five most expensive players, and given his history of implosion and inconsistency, Roma may not want to roll those dice.
Listen, I’m actually on board with this move—he seems to have exorcised his demons and EDF has expressed an admiration for him in the past—but given that confluence of playing time and wages, it’s hard to see this rumor becoming reality. Now, if Roma gives Dzeko the old heave-ho, then things become more lucid and we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it, but in the here and now this rumor doesn’t hold a lot of water, no matter how much Raiola persists.