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Sunday Stories: Zaniolo, Nainggolan, Pedro & More

Some depressing transfer rumors and a happy 93rd birthday to the club itself.

AS Roma v Torino FC - Serie A Photo by Silvia Lore/Getty Images

Three weeks from now, we'll be watching AS Roma take on AC Milan at the San Siro in a crucial Round 28 fixture. All the same guys who suited up for the Giallorossi before the pandemic will still be there, but, if you believe the spate of rumors Sunday brought with it, don't get used to their smiling faces. With Roma posting a record loss in the first nine months of the season, this is going to be a pretty dour tour through the Romasphere.

Strap yourself in because we're starting with a potentially soul crushing move.

Zaniolo & Nainggolan Attempt a Freaky Friday Swap

The manner in which Roma fleeced Inter Milan for Nicolo Zaniolo is already the stuff of legend. Sure, Nainggolan was a beloved figure, but you just never know how midfielders will handle their post-30 life, so his sale could have been rationalized on that alone. But the meteoric rise of Zaniolo (who wasn't really a throw-in if we're being honest) over the past two years has made this move a robbery of the highest order.

Nainggolan only lasted one season with Inter before returning to Cagliari, and while he's done pretty well over that span (11 goals and 9 assists), no matter how well he plays, he's on the downside of his career; so there is only so much value he can provide.

Zaniolo, on the other hand, has become a potential savior for club and country, and perhaps the future face of Italian football. And while he's pledged his loyalty to the club in recent months, Roma rough shape at the moment. Without a new owner or an immediate injection of, say, nearly €300 million, Roma may be forced to make some uncomfortable decisions this summer.

Along those lines, the papers would have us believe that Roma, rather than giving Zaniolo to Juventus or Manchester United or even Spurs, would sell him back to Inter Milan as part of a cash + Nainggolan deal. And as absurd as that might sound, it would probably be Roma's best deal under these shitty circumstances. With Roma owing Inter 15% of any future Zaniolo sale, returning him to sender would essentially remove that bit of the equation.

Oof...I can't even begin to imagine how this move would go down in Rome; this would be the nightmare to end all nightmares. Sell Ünder, sell Kluivert, sell Pellegrini, hell, sell the Colosseum before you sell Zaniolo.

A reverse transfer, much like a reverse mortgage, sounds good but it will end up screwing you in the end.

Pedro Is Coming...Maybe

Two separate stories on Sunday, one from Superdeporte (via Football Italia) and one from Calciomercato (via RomaPress) offer slightly differing accounts on the future of Pedro, the soon to be ex-Chelsea winger. According to Superdeporte, Pedro could be tempted by a return to La Liga, with Valencia, Sevilla and Real Betis interested in the soon to be 33-year-old.

Meanwhile, the Italian press claims Pedro is closer than ever to Roma, particularly after he was specifically requested by Paulo Fonseca.

Maybe it's just me, but something about signing a 33-year-old winger on the decline seems like a horrible idea.

More on the Cristante for Mandragora Swap

We discussed this move yesterday, but the Corriere dello Sport came back on Sunday with some financial figures. Mandragora, currently with Udinese, would be purchased back by Juventus for €26 million, but he will magically be valued at €35 million, a figure that will enable both clubs to make a capital gain. So, in essence, this could be another Spinazzola for Luca Pellegrini swap...and we all remember how well that worked out.

For my money, do the same deal but grab Manuel Locatelli instead. We'll have more on Bryan Cristante early next week, but suffice it to say, he's not nearly as bad as people seem to think—you don't want him going to Juve, trust that.

The Old Lady & Young Riccardi

Speaking of Juventus taking advantage of Roma again, the Old Lady is still interested in Roma's Primavera ace, Alessio Riccardi.

We'll end this by wishing our beloved AS Roma a happy 93rd birthday!

CdT Week in Review