For two clubs that don't especially like each other, Roma and Juventus sure have been connected in the rumor rags an awful lot this summer. While we occasionally see players cross this divide (PDO, Miralem Pjanic, Mirko Vucinic and Wojciech Szczesny in recent years) it's not often that we see the two sides doing direct non-coerced business with one another, which made the Luca Pellegrini-Leonardo Spinazzola swap/cooking of the books so surprising earlier this summer, when in fact the protracted nature of the Daniele Rugani negotiations is closer to the true nature of this relationship.
Rugani may end up a Roma player in the next week or he may not, but Sport Italia (not sure if that's one word or what) floated an interesting sub-rumor about an hour ago.
Alfredo Pedulla, who looks like the head honcho of that outfit, speculates that, in addition to their on-going Rugani talks, Roma and Juventus might do business on Mario Mandzukic, Juve's 33-year-old winger and occasional striker. While Mandzukic logged over 2,000 league minutes last year, scoring nine and dishing out six, his role looks set to diminish over the course of the next two seasons, presumably his last ones in Turin.
Now, we're not here to quibble with the relative credibility of SportItalia (we'll go with the conjoined form this time) but this is nevertheless an interesting rumor. With Diego Perotti perpetually hurt and Patrik Schick almost out the door, Roma are in need of both a left winger and a reserve striker behind Edin Dzeko. And, hey, wouldn't you know it, Mandzukic can do both!
As Pedulla correctly points out, prior to moving to Juventus, Mandzukic was an out and out striker and it was only when Max Allegri pushed him out wide that his game took on a new wrinkle, meaning Roma could kill two birds with one 33-year-old Croatian stone.
The problem, as it so often is, comes down to salary—Mandzukic's recent contract extension bumped his salary up to a hefty €5.5 million per season through June 2021, which would, as you may have guessed, make him Roma's best paid player.
Barring some sort of new extension that tacks on another year to spread the payments out (like they did with Federico Fazio) this move may not be feasible, but the prospect of taking on Mandzukic is a damn sight better than signing Nikola Kalinic, so it's at least worth thinking about.
It's going to be a busy couple of days for Gianluca Petrachi.