Roma's acquisition of Borja Mayoral last summer was noteworthy for a few reasons. There were probably many of us who greeted the announcement with a “Huh? Who?” After spending most of the summer chasing Mauro Icardi, Moise Kean, and Arkadiusz Milik, among others, Roma seemed primed to swing for the fences in their search for Edin Dzeko's ostensible replacement. But when the Dzeko-to-Juve-Milik-to-Roma carousel broke down, the Giallorossi quickly had to pivot, changing their search parameters from finding an immediate replacement for Dzeko to simply landing a suitable backup.
Once that that new reality settled in, Roma was reportedly keen on a young Madrid striker with a chip on his shoulder, desperate to make a name for himself: Luka Jovic. The young Serbian forward struggled to repeat his success after a big-money move from Eintracht Frankfurt and seemed like an ideal buy-low candidate.
However, before we could even crank out a few fictional formations with Jovic leading the line, another young, wantaway Madrid forward took his place: Borja Mayoral. Borja's track record wasn't quite as prolific as Jovic's but the prevailing opinion held that Real coach Zinedine Zidane actually held Mayoral in higher regard.
It was a confusing couple of weeks in the Romaverse. From visions of Milik and Icardi leading the line to the realization that, for the third straight summer (at least), Dzeko's flirtations with other clubs was just grist for the rumor mill to the enticing prospect of Jovic rediscovering his form with Roma, Mayoral's arrival in the capital was somewhat overshadowed by all the noise around Trigoria.
While Borja was slow to adjust to life in Italy, he returned Roma's faith with 17 goals and five assists in all competitions. He may not have convinced the entire fanbase, but he was far better than his former Real pal Jovic, who struggled last season, turning in only four goals and one assist in all competitions.
And that impressive rookie season in Rome led many to question when the Giallorossi would exercise their option to purchase Mayoral outright. Signed on a two-year loan, Roma has two options to make his move from Madrid permanent: €15 million this summer or €20 million in June 2022.
While we ran through the pros and cons of each figure earlier this spring, according to Il Tempo's Filippo Biafora, Roma has decided to kick that decision down the road a year:
L'#ASRoma ha deciso di non esercitare il riscatto anticipato (15mln) per #BorjaMayoral, che resterà in prestito per un altro anno. Intanto è iniziata la trattativa con il #Rennes per cedere #Nzonzi: già diversi i contatti tra Pinto e i francesi#calciomercato @tempoweb pic.twitter.com/FC1JL1qhN4— Filippo Biafora (@Fil_Biafora) May 31, 2021
Given the club's impending change in managers, this isn't surprising. Putting this decision on hold for a year may cost Roma an additional five million (if they choose to keep him at all) but that's a small price to pay for a piece of mind. Mayoral's 17 goals speak for themselves to an extent but the now 24-year-old forward isn't without his detractors, who are quick to point out that he feasted on lesser clubs.
By delaying this decision for a year, Roma is essentially putting down a €5 million refundable deposit on Mayoral, who now has 365 days to prove he's more a finished product than an opportunistic poacher.
If it works out and he proves that he's the Real McCoy then €20 million is still a bargain price tag for a number one striker, but if he struggles and falls flat in his second season then you really only lose time, which may not matter anyway if Roma brings in a new striker like Andrea Belotti.
Either way, we can feel safe in the knowledge that, if nothing else, Roma has a backup striker capable of contributing when called upon.