The thing I find so perpetually odd about the transfer market, even after covering it for so many years, is how the actual transfer fee is sometimes seen as an afterthought. Time after time we read headlines “Club X and Player Y Agree to Personal Terms” only for the deal to go nowhere, or to be significantly drawn out for weeks. As Roma fans we’ve seen this over the past few years with the Edin Dzeko and Patrik Schick transactions, during which the actual financial dealings between the clubs was ignored for weeks, leading to protracted negotiations and untold amounts of vicarious stress.
Now, I’m not saying this is anything unordinary—players agreeing to contracts is sort of necessary in order to complete a transfer—but in the case of Steven N’Zonzi (or Nzonzi, can someone straighten that out, please?) Roma and Sevilla are miles apart on a transfer fee, to say nothing of his actual release clause.
Still, according to multiple reports, Roma and N’Zonzi have agreed to a three year deal, one that will pay him €3.5 million per season, or about one million less than we discussed last week. The problem, however, rests in N’Zonzi’s actual fee. Last week it was rumored that Roma were preparing an offer that ranged anywhere from €23 million to €30 million, including the usual bonuses, because no one pays full price upfront, amirite?
While it’s all well and good that Roma have brokered a deal with the player, there is the small matter of his actual release clause, reported to be a firm €40 million. While I’m not enough of an insider to know if there are an loopholes in that, it seems like a giant impediment to the deal, personal terms be damned.
I got into a bit of a kerfuffle on Twitter over this move last week, but N’Zonzi is a solid player, one who would give Roma depth this season and act as a bridge of sorts for the next two years until Roma finds Daniele De Rossi’s actual heir...but there’s just something so underwhelming about allocating so much of Roma’s Alisson windfall into a soon to be 30-year-old defensive midfielder.
James Pallotta indicated that Liverpool’s offer for Alisson was, to paraphrase, too good to pass up, and that those funds could then be used to purchase two to three top players. And once Malcom was stolen from underneath their noses, Monchi claimed they’d find a player as good if not better than Malcom.
Does a €40 million soon to be 30-year-old defensive midfielder fit that bill? I don’t think so. Now if they can whittle down that price and defray some of the cost by selling Maxime Gonalons, sure, then this could be an A+ move, but as the finishing flourish to Roma’s transfer campaign, and as the largest investment of the Alisson cash, it’s tremendously disappointing.
N’Zonzi would make Roma better, no doubt, but is this what you envisioned when Roma sold Alisson—Robin Olsen, a 28-year-old keeper coming off a World Cup bounce, Suso, an alright but not spectacular player, and an almost 30-year-old defensive midfielder?
Seventy-two million windfalls don’t come around every day, so Roma has to make absolutely certain that those funds are invested wisely, to ensure both an immediate upgrade and sustained success.
Signing N’Zonzi and swapping out Diego Perotti for Suso only makes Roma marginally better next season—and much of that really depends on your opinion of Gonalons—and if that’s the best Monchi can do, he’d be better suited to sit on those funds until the next window.