Maxime Gonalons. The very mention of his name stirs up a flurry of emotions among Roma fans. Purchased just last summer from Lyon for €5 million, Gonalons had a sizeable section of the Roma fanbase quite excited. After all, we were talking about a 28-year-old midfielder who had logged over 300 appearances for the French club, many of which were as captain. So while he wasn’t a headline grabbing signing, Gonalons was young, solid enough in all facets of the game and incredibly experienced. In a word, he was the perfect depth signing for a club with serious ambitions.
But then the season started and Gonalons found playing time hard to come by. From the start of the campaign through the end of 2017, Gonalons was very much a bit player, garnering only seven appearances through the end of December. Thanks to Daniele De Rossi’s resurgence, Kevin Strootman’s continued health and the simple presence of Radja Nainggolan and Lorenzo Pellegrini, there just wasn’t much need for Gonalons.
While his playing time picked up in 2018, particularly later in the spring, Gonalons failed to carve out a consistent niche in Eusebio Di Francesco’s tactical setup. All told, Gonalons wound up with 17 appearances and just a tad over 1,000 minutes on the pitch; hardy enough to make an impact. Due to that bit role, Gonalons quickly became the subject of derision among Roma fans, but the truth wasn’t quite so harsh; Gonalons wasn’t a revelation but he certainly wasn’t as bad as many of us made him out to be.
So, what gives? Why are we talking about him now?
Well, despite his agents prior claims that he wasn’t wrangling up a move away from Rome, several weeks ago Gonalons admitted that he needs to play more consistently. However, with Strootman, De Rossi and Pellegrini firmly entrenched in EDF’s plans, not to mention the additions of Javier Pastore and Ante Coric, Gonalons may find playing time equally sparse this year, leading many to question where he’ll play this year.
Enter Crystal Palace.
According to Sky Sport, the Premiership club has lodged...get this...a €10 million offer for the now 29-year-old midfielder, which Roma are currently weighing. While Gonalons may be the only true defensive midfielder on the roster, doubling their investment on such a fringe player may be too good to pass up.
This is one instance in which the riches of English football may actually work to Roma’s benefit.