Roma’s search for a striker to replace the aging Edin Džeko has become an ownership-and- GM-spanning crusade, with names from all across the globe being brought up and shot down. Through the changes from Monchi to Petrachi to Tiago Pinto, one name has persisted in the rumor mill: Andrea Belotti, Torino captain, Azzurri mainstay, and newly-crowned champion of Europe.
Although Belotti has quite the pedigree, he wasn’t exactly impressive during Italy’s run to the title this summer (though to be fair, neither was Ciro Immobile). He whiffed a crucial penalty in the final against England, and his impact on the tournament was minimal at best. Nevertheless, if Tuttosport are to be believed, the months of negotiations with Roma haven’t seen Torino President Urbano Cairo budge on his €35 million asking price; if anything, it’s only hardened his resolve.
It’s relatively common knowledge that Roma’s most recent offer for Belotti was in the neighborhood of €15 million, which is a more than fair price for a player six months away from leaving his club on a free. Yet Cairo has apparently deemed that offer insufficient for the man who scored nearly 100 goals for Il Toro. Some journalists are now suggesting that Tiago Pinto may move towards a player exchange deal for Belotti, potentially including the likes of Marash Kumbulla and Tommaso Milanese to pry away Il Gallo from Turin.
Milanese is an academy graduate, so any value Roma squeezes from him in a transfer would effectively be free money. However, it’s important to remember that Kumbulla was brought in from Hellas Verona for an eye-watering €28 million (if you combine the loan fee with the final transfer fee the Giallorossi pay Verona this summer). Even if you think that Kumbulla hasn’t delivered for Roma just yet, the idea of giving away such a pricey young defender to bring in a striker who certainly doesn’t seem to be at the peak of his powers is lunacy. Add in the fact that Milanese is the only current Primavera player to have scored with the senior side, and it’s clear that Roma including Milanese and Kumbulla would result in a valuation of Belotti even higher than Cairo’s €35 million.
The Andrea Belotti transfer saga is reminding me more and more of Roma’s negotiations with Torino for Bruno Peres every day it drags on, and not in a good way. Peres was an exciting coup when Roma signed him; he had played excellently for Torino in the past, and many thought that he could be a long-term solution for Roma at right-back. Obviously, that didn’t happen, and Peres became one of the Pallotta Era’s many flops. Do we really need to rehash that painful saga again, even if Belotti had a more sustained level of excellent play than Peres ever did?
To date, Tiago Pinto has done a good job of clearing deadweight, and he doesn’t seem eager to overpay for talent. Instead of paying an exorbitant fee for a player who is getting overvalued by a notoriously stingy club president, it would be far better for Roma to exercise some patience and do one of the following: either sign a young prospect striker to pair with Džeko and Borja Mayoral or just commit to bringing in Mayoral to Rome on a permanent basis.
With the way these transfer negotiations with Torino seem to be going, I just hope that Roma doesn’t end up feeling like Lando Calrissian in The Empire Strikes Back.