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Reports: Roger Ibañez to Al-Ahli for €28.5 Million Plus Bonuses

The Brazilian is the latest player to make a big money move to Saudi Arabia, giving Tiago Pinto some money to throw around in the last few weeks of the summer mercato.

As Roma Training Session Photo by Luciano Rossi/AS Roma via Getty Images

Roma’s summer mercato has been an exercise in patience (or impatience) for many Romanisti. Link after link pops up in the press only to disappear just as quickly, leading to exasperation while other major Italian clubs sell and buy star players in a frenzy. While I’m still relatively confident that deals for Marcos Leonardo and Renato Sanches will make it to the finish line, the sheer amount of negotiations required for those players has been frustrating, to the point where José Mourinho himself is commenting in the press that he hopes reinforcements happen sooner rather than later.

To spend money at a club like Roma, you have to make money first, and it looks as if Tiago Pinto has decided to finally make that money by selling Roger Ibañez off to the highest bidder. This being the summer of 2023, the highest bidder in football is Saudi Arabia, with Al-Ahli deciding to bring Ibañez to Jeddah to pair with Riyad Mahrez, Roberto Firmino, and Edoardo Mendy.

Although the deal hasn’t been made official by either club just yet, José Mourinho has practically confirmed the move himself in a cheeky Instagram post where he quips that next time they meet, Ibañez is going to have to cover the dinner tab:

Ibañez leaves the club after three seasons in Rome, where he transformed from a player who never caught on Atalanta into a fundamental part of Roma’s defense. While his last season in Rome featured some mistakes in key matches that caused grumbling amongst Romanisti, there’s no doubt that Ibañez helped make Roma’s defenses one of the strongest in Serie A and Europe during his time at the Stadio Olimpico. He will also be remembered by the club faithful as a key cog in Roma’s Europa Conference League winning side.

The inevitable question following Ibañez’s departure is just how Tiago Pinto will reinvest the funds from Ibañez’s sale into the senior team. It’s unclear whether or not the potential purchase of Marcos Leonardo was ever linked to an Ibañez sale, but with Evan Ndicka already brought in and more than capable of filling the role of an Ibañez replacement, it’s likely that Roma will use this sale as a chance to finalize Roma’s midfield and attack heading into the season. Alvaro Morata looks set to stay at Atletico Madrid, but perhaps Pinto will submit a more serious bid for Marko Arnautović now that his wallet is a little more full.

With 25 days left in the summer transfer window, 13 days until the first match of the season, and even less time than that available for José Mourinho to introduce new signings into his tactical system, you have to imagine that this week will be crucial if Roma intend to finally bring some of their rumored targets to Trigoria. Let’s hope that Ibañez’s sale, painful as it might be, allows for Roma’s transfer market to end on a high note.