Leave it to Roma to make things dramatic. With little more than 24 hours before their week two matchup against Atalanta, one in which the squad list will be announced in mere hours, the club is reportedly preparing for life without one of their stalwarts, midfielder Kevin Strootman, who has suddenly become the subject of intense transfer speculation. While Strootman hasn’t garnered as much as press as some of his previously departed teammates, he is nevertheless the man of the hour on the transfer market.
Late in the week we discussed the budding possibility of a Strootman and Rudi Garcia reunion at Marseilles, where Roma’s former manager has led OM since the fall of 2016. With Marseilles needing reinforcements in midfield, and with their ability to offer Strootman a significant raise, there were ample, logical reasons for this reunion to happen. Besides which, Strootman arguably enjoyed the best football of his career under Garcia’s watch, so one can presume the transition would be seamless for the 28-year-old midfielder.
With that initial report a few days in the rearview, it appears as though some progress has been made between the two clubs, though a deal has not yet been struck. While there are conflicting reports between the Italian and French media, word has it that Roma and Marseilles are hashing out a deal believed to worth €25 million plus a further €4 million in bonuses. However, several outlets, most notably Il Tempo, claim Marseilles has only offered €22 million, making that €3 million gap a potential stumbling block.
That Roma are even considering selling Strootman, an unquestioned leader in the locker room, speaks a great deal to their new found depth. Even after shipping out Radja Nainggolan, Roma have a glut of midfielders thanks to their offseason spending spree which saw the Giallorossi add Bryan Cristante, Javier Pastore, Ante Coric, Nicolo Zaniolo and Steven Nzonzi to their mdfield core.
If Roma’s week one victory over Torino was any indication, Cristante will only be content on the sidelines for so long; his injection in the second half was instrumental to Roma’s turn around, and while he didn’t factor in the match winning goal, his influence was palpable. At his best, Cristante offers virtually everything vintage Strootman did plus a keener nose for goal. Couple that with the presence of Nzonzi and Lorenzo Pellegrini, and it’s not hard to see why Roma are willing to part with the Dutchman.
Several years ago selling Strootman would have been unthinkable. Not only was he a top player, his passion for the club and the crest was clear as day; he embodied so, so much of what we love about this club that it wasn’t hard to envision Strootman donning the giallo e rosso until he was damn near 40.
But that bit of nostalgia, though it was only four or five years ago, was completely different from today’s reality. Due to the compounding effects of his knee injuries, Strootman was simply never the same; the transformative force under Rudi Garcia became inconsistent and at times ineffective; the heart was willing but the body was unable.
To his credit, Strootman persevered where many would have faltered, logging over 60 appearances over the past two seasons, an astounding and laudable feat considering everything he endured the prior two years. After fighting his way back to fitness, I suppose it is somewhat ironic (bitterly so) that Strootman may finally be sold because he is simply no longer the best option.
It’s not a fitting end for a man that once seemed destined to be a club legend, but if this is indeed it for Strootman and Roma, he’ll go down as one of the most beloved players in the club’s modern history, one who will be welcomed back with open arms.
Word is quickly spreading that Roma and Marseilles have reached an agreement for Strootman, with the French club paying €25 million plus a further €3 million in potential bonuses. While Strootman was training with Roma this afternoon, he will reportedly fly out to France to take his medical examination ASAP.
Have to admit, I didn’t see this move coming, but as we’ve discussed over the past few days, there’s a certain understandable rationale to it, though it still stings to lose a guy who so obviously loved playing for this club.
If nothing else, we at least have a reason to follow Marseilles now.