If you’ve been following the World Cup over the past several weeks, in addition to witnessing Kylian Mbappe’s coming out party, Harry Kane’s excellence and Neymar’s antics, you’ve no doubt noticed the plucky team from the Balkans that has willed its way to the semi-finals. In addition to some stunning kits, the lovely lads from Croatia have done just enough to advance in the knockout stages, squeaking past Denmark and Russia in PKs, becoming the first ever nation to win consecutive knockout matches via penalties.
And if you’ve been following us over the past several weeks, you’ve no doubt noticed one lingering story we’ve been trailing: the ongoing contract negotiations between Roma and fullback Alessandro Florenzi. Ale, as you may well know, has only one year remaining on his contract and is gunning for a new one, one with a hefty raise, to the tune of €4 million per season.
However, the latest word from Rome points towards a bit of a stalemate, with the club and player separated by some €500,000. While I suspect cooler heads will ultimately prevail in this showdown, it hasn’t stopped Roma from (reportedly) exploring other options.
Bringing us to the intersection of these three paragraphs, Croatian right back Sime Vrsaljko, Atletico’s 26-year-old fullback, formerly of Sassuolo. While Vrsaljko hasn’t been the best player for Croatia over the past few weeks, he has put in solid runs against Nigeria, Argentina and Russia.
Vrsaljko is a solid if unspectacular player, one to whom a trio of Italian clubs have been connected over the past several weeks. You can add Roma to the list of clubs interested in Vrsaljko, one that also includes Napoi and Inter Milan. In addition to his steady play, one can presume their familiarity with Vrsaljko, who played two seasons with Sassuolo, is driving these rumors.
While the available reports haven’t given any indication why Atletico wants to sell Vrsaljko, they do point towards the Spanish clubs preference for a straight sale rather a loan with an option, a route reportedly explored by Inter.
Vrsaljko hasn’t exactly lit La Liga aflame since making the switch to Atletico in the summer of 2016, logging approximately 2,500 minutes over the past two seasons, so perhaps he’d be open to a return to Serie A. Vrsaljko is valued at roughly €25 million and is, in some ways, the polar opposite of Florenzi, excelling at defense while providing minimal contributions to the attack.
Sime Vrsaljko wouldn’t necessarily represent an upgrade over Florenzi, but given his Serie A experience, his solid play and his familiarity with EDF, in the event Roma does sell Florenzi, Vrsaljko would allow for a smooth transition.