Since we're heading into the real meat (or the plant-based alternative) of the holiday season, we can expect a slight pause on the 24/7 football news cycle. While there will undoubtedly be a few rumors that slip through the cracks, stepping away from the whirlwind of rumors, injuries, and Roman melodrama for 48 hours or so may not be the worst thing. But we don't want to leave you completely hanging, so let's take a quick tour of the Romaverse and see what springs up as we prepare to celebrate the holiday season.
Spalletti to Swoop for Kumbulla?
According to the Corriere dello Sport, with Kostas Manolas returning to his native Greece and Kalidou Koulibaly set to participate in the Africa Cup of Nations with Senegal, Luciano Spalletti and Napoli may look to Roma for temporary relief. The CdS reports that Napoli are keen on taking Marash Kumbulla on a loan with an option to buy, though no figures or terms were speculated upon.
Kumbulla would provide immediate relief for a Napoli side in need of defensive cover, but should Roma really be in the business of helping a direct rival?
Set all that aside for a moment and remember just how young Kumbulla remains. He may be inconsistent, but he's still a prodigious talent worth cultivating, even if it requires a gentle touch. Roma would be wise to remain patient with the 21-year-old.
Grillitsch to Rome Gaining Steam
Florian Grillitsch, Hoffenheim's 26-year-old Austrian international, has been connected with Roma for several weeks now. Valued at roughly €15 million and with a contract set to expire at the end of this season, the January transfer window is Hoffenheim's last chance to get anything for their prized defensive midfielder. While he’s not quite as aggressive as Denis Zakaria, Roma's initial winter target, Grillitsch offers a balanced blend of passing, moving, tackling, and creating and could be exactly what Mourinho's midfield needs at the moment.
And according to the Gazzetta dello Sport, Roma GM Tiago Pinto is planning to make a move for Grillitsch this winter, though they warn the negotiation won't be easy, even with his expiring contract.
Borja Bound for Crystal Palace?
Borja Mayoral, whose loan from Real Madrid expires in June, isn't long for Roma, and while there were whispers he could stick with the Giallorossi through the end of the season, the decision may ultimately be out of Roma's hands. With Real Madrid still owning his contractual rights, the Spanish giants may want to sort out Mayoral's future sooner rather than later.
Accordingly, sources in the Italian and Spanish press report that Madrid and Crystal Palace are engaged in talks over a potential €15 million transfer for the 24-year-old forward.
Roma Could Lose Darboe, Diawara and Afena-Gyan to AFCON
The Africa Cup of Nations, the biennial tournament to crown the champions of the Confederation of African Football, is set to take place in Cameroon between January 9th and February 6th. While most major clubs have to contend with losing players to AFCON, Roma may be hit particularly hard this winter as Ebrima Darboe (Gambia), Amadou Diawara (Guinea) and Felix Afena-Gyan (Ghana) are likely to represent their respective nations at next month's tournament.
Granted, none of those three are starters for José Mourinho, but given the spate of injuries the club has endured this season, Roma can ill afford to lose anyone at this point, much less three young players with fresh legs.
Lyon's Guimarães Linked With Roma Move
Bruno Guimarães, a 24-year-old Brazilian, is the latest in a long line of defensive midfielders linked with a move to the Italian capital, according to La Gazzetta dello Sport. Guimarães, who has been with Lyon since 2019, carries a €30 million price tag thanks in large part to his almost comical blend of skills. Over the past year (among midfielders in Europe's top five leagues), Guimarães ranks in the 80th percentile or higher in the following categories (amongst many others): expected assists, passes completed, long passes completed, medium passes completed, balls into the final third, progressive passes, through balls, passes under pressure, shot-creating actions, goal-creating actions, tackles, pressures... and on and on.
If you're not an ardent Ligue 1 fan, you may not be familiar with Guimarães, but, oof, there is a lot to like about this guy.
We'll keep tabs on each of these stories over the next few days, but in the meantime, if you're celebrating the holidays this weekend, enjoy the R&R and stay safe!