Stop me if you’ve heard this one before. Roma has an excellent, almost-world-class centerback in its ranks, and the superclubs are on the prowl. Roma’s Director of Sport is also rumored to be looking at a new centerback addition that has been labeled “the next big thing”. The centerback who is receiving all the attention is a madman type of defender, while his partner, the one who will most likely stick around for longer than him, is the calming member of the defense.
That better sound familiar, because that is the situation Roma was in when Mehdi Benatia blew up in his first season at Roma, and it’s the situation (with some tweaks) Roma finds itself in right now with Kostas Manolas, who served as Benatia’s replacement. We have already talked a bit about that situation, including the Manchester United and Mino Raiola wrinkles, so instead of retreading over that, I’m going to take a look at some of the centerbacks that Monchi is looking at, either as a replacement for Manolas or as, you know, an actual defensive reinforcement (something Roma could really use this January).
Current Club: Atalanta
Transfermarkt Value: €10m
Every Italian club worth its salt is connected to Mancini right now, and for good reason. Although he had a bit of a journeyman’s career in his youth (bouncing between Fiorentina, Perugia, and Atalanta), he’s made a home for himself to date with La Dea. In the past two seasons, Mancini’s scored six in thirty games while proving himself to be a defensive stalwart on a solid side.
Mancini’s current contract runs until 2023, but with everyone from Arsenal to Roma to Borussia Dortmund on his trail, his time at Atalanta is most likely nearing its end. Although Transfermarkt values him at only €10m, you have to believe he would be more likely to cost Roma around €30m because of his Italian ties and youth. This probably means Mancini would be more of a replacement for Manolas than a future partner, but regardless, he’d be an excellent addition to the side.
Transfermarkt Value: €6.5m
Another 18-year-old centerback, you ask? Didn’t we already sign that William Bianda kid, you might wonder? Yes, and yes. But Ozan Kabak isn’t the exact same situation as Bianda. Where Bianda’s name essentially came out of the blue, Kabak (like Mancini) has been linked to everybody from Manchester United to Roma to Chelsea. The teenage defender has certainly impressed with his play for Galatasaray, but color me skeptical on this one. I don’t think Roma needs another young defender who will ride the pine behind the more established members of the defense. Roma already has issues with Kolarov and Luca Pellegrini pushing each other for minutes, and that will probably lead to a loan move for Luca in the near future. Unless Monchi and Di Francesco are confident that Kabak can muscle his way into the starting eleven with ease, I’d much rather just bank on Bianda, or Capradossi, or some youth defender Roma already has on the books.
Transfermarkt Value: €22m
Daniele Rugani has been viewed as the future of the Azzurri defense, and by extension, the Juventus defense, for years at this point. Despite that, Rugani has found it difficult to break his way into the starting eleven at Allianz Stadium. Enter Roma, purportedly interested in the still-quite-young Italian defender and promising him a chance at regular minutes for the long haul.
I’ll admit it, it makes me feel a little odd to see Roma interested in a Juventino, but I would completely understand it if Monchi moved for Rugani. The way the 24-year-old is able to play nearly-perfectly with his feet, the way he’s able to assert aerial dominance with his Federico Fazio levels of gianthood: all of these things would make me welcome the future Azzurri mainstay at the Olimpico with open arms.
Of course, Juventus have to let him go to Roma first. That’s the biggest if here, and it’s one that makes me think the transfer won’t ever happen. Oh, and he would probably cost an arm and a leg.
Conclusion: Hey, Maybe Just Keep Kostas?
I don’t think I’m espousing too radical of an idea when I suggest that Monchi and Roma do whatever it takes to keep Kostas Manolas at the Olimpico. As much as I enjoyed Mehdi Benatia’s year in Rome, Manolas has more than filled the hole the Moroccan left behind, and who could ever forget his goal against Barcelona?
Roma still needs a defensive reinforcement, particularly if Ivan Marcano heads towards the exit. I just hope that Roma doesn’t lose Manolas at the same time; that would most likely send an already-teetering defense past the precipice, and would severely hamper Roma’s chances at maintaining a Champions League spot.
What should Roma do in defense?
This poll is closed
Sign Gianluca Mancini
Sign Ozan Kabak
Sign Daniele Rugani
Just don’t sell Manolas
Other - respond in the comments!