As we close the books on our season review coverage and shift into silly season, the logic behind Roma's transfer rumor mill is pretty clear: take any player who has ever played for, against, or even just posed for a picture with José Mourinho and cook up some headline with the words ‘Mourinho’, 'Roma’, ‘Requests’, ‘Reunion’ or ‘Project’ and you're good to go.
That's no slight against any particular outlet—hell, we sort of did it ourselves over the past week or so—it’s just the nature of the beast. In the absence of any official press conference in which Mourinho specifically spells out how he intends to transform Roma and what players he needs to achieve that, all anyone can really do is try and connect the dots: what types of players has he used in the past, who is available on the market, and can Roma actually afford the player in question.
And, as always, the last part of that equation continues to vex Roma. And, according to Gianluca Di Marzio, a difference of some €12 million is already standing in the way of Roma and Mourinho's latest rumored transfer request: Arsenal midfielder Granit Xhaka.
According to Di Marzio, Roma is currently in negotiations with Arsenal and Xhaka's representatives for the 28-year-old Swiss midfielder. Xhaka, who moved to Arsenal in 2016 after a successful four-year run with Borussia MGB, has been a mainstay at the Emirates ever since, averaging 32 league appearances per season since signing with the Gunners.
With two years remaining on his contract, Arsenal is said to value Xhaka at €25 million, which, so far, is presenting a problem for Roma, who Di Marzio asserts have offered approximately €13 million in their opening salvos. That may seem like a pretty sizeable gap but Di Marzio believes Roma can still close the operation for less than €20 million, perhaps in a loan with an option/obligation to buy at a later date.
Xhaka, your classic defensive midfielder, is best known for this steady passing and led Arsenal in passes attempted, passes completed, total distance, progressive passes, passes into the final third, and was among the club leaders in key passes and passes into the penalty area—the dude likes to pass, is what we're getting at.
Xhaka also led Arsenal in tackles won, tackles in the middle third, tackles in the attacking third, dribbles tackled, and was among club leaders in a host of other defensive categories including successful pressures, interceptions, and blocks.
Like we said, Xhaka is a classic defensive midfielder. One could argue that Roma has enough coverage in that area, but there's no denying Xhaka's talent or effectiveness. We'll keep an eye on this one, but that €12 million difference could stop negotiations before they even really start.