If you’ve followed Roma for more than one transfer window, you start understanding that there are different tiers of rumor-mongers in the mercatoverse. At the top, there’s the official announcement from the club; right below that, journalists who are obviously tied in to good sources within the club; and below that, journalists who seem to just come up with rumors out of thin air because hey, there’s a deadline and don’t you want to imagine a new player in a Roma kit?
We here at Chiesa di Totti try to avoid spreading rumors we don’t think are up to snuff because we love you guys. Every now and then, though, there’s a rumor that emerges from a less-reputable source that makes too much sense not to share. This morning, that happened: TuttoMercatoWeb reported that José Mourinho isn’t too attached to keeping Gonzalo Villar around.
There are some reasons why I don’t buy this rumor completely. First, why switch Villar from the #14 kit to the #8 if you’re just going to offload him a couple weeks later? Second, Roma is already having difficulty offloading players like Amadou Diawara and Javier Pastore. Should Tiago Pinto really add another midfielder to the “sell” list right now if he can’t continue to shrink the “surplus to requirements” list? Finally, at 2.2 million a year, Villar is one of the more cost-effective players on Roma’s payroll at the moment. Should the Giallorossi really give up a young, promising player on a cheap contract, particularly when replacing him with a player of similar quality might cost more?
Given all of that, it’s not like moving on from Villar is the worst idea on record (that distinction would have to go to Monchi’s genius purchase of Javier Pastore). As much as it has been an absolute delight to see Villar, a virtually unknown prospect from Elche, develop into a key member of Roma’s midfield rotation, it’s been obvious from the moment that the Granit Xhaka negotiations became serious and public that if the Swiss captain is signed, the Giallorossi are a bit too heavy in the midfield department.
Let’s go down the depth chart to see who else could be available if Xhaka is signed. Lorenzo Pellegrini certainly isn’t going anywhere, particularly now that the Giallorossi look set to extend his contract until 2026. Jordan Veretout is both injured and critical as Roma’s best penalty taker, and Bryan Cristante is the glue guy you just don’t want to remove (and contract renewal talks are also reportedly in the offing). With Nicolo Zaniolo and Henrikh Mkhitaryan also untouchable or newly renewed, and with no real takers appearing for Amadou Diawara or Javier Pastore, Granit Xhaka’s potential signing always meant that Villar might be the odd one out. The good news for Villar is that if he’s put on the market, he would certainly attract a lot of interest.
Chief among those clubs who would love to bring Villar into the fold is the other Madrid club managed by a former Derby Della Capitale participant: Diego Simeone’s Atletico Madrid. The rumors linking Villar to Atletico have appeared on and off since he showed himself to be a class player, so if the Giallorossi really decide to move on from Villar, it’d be a good bet to assume that Gonzalo’s next stop might be with Atleti.
Personally, I hope the Giallorossi keep Villar around, for the reasons I’ve already stated. I love it when players show themselves to be worthy after being discarded by a club at a young age; that was one of the best parts of Nicolo Zaniolo turning into a star, and it was one of the best parts of Villar showing his stuff with the Giallorossi after being ditched by Valencia. I also just find Villar to be a fun (if somewhat frustrating) player to watch, in a young Miralem Pjanić kind of way.
If this smoke turns into anything remotely resembling fire, you can be sure we’ll write about it again.