Over the past several days, Roma and Chelsea have held multiple discussions over a double swoop that would see the London-based outfit bolster their squad with duo Edin Džeko and Emerson Palmieri.
The very latest from Gianluca Di Marzio reveals the total transfer fee for Emerson and the Bosnian striker will be €50 million plus an additional €10 million in bonuses. Next for the two parties to establish are the terms of the payment and bonuses. Furthermore, should these final details be agreed on, the two-player transaction could be closed as early as today.
Some might go as far to say that transfers are as popular as betting on football, and when dealing with transfers of this caliber, that just might be true.
While the deal for the two heading out of the Italian capital to complete their Premier League switch seems imminent, it now leaves open plenty of room for discussion here in late January.
Starting with Džeko, the Bosnian striker was purchased in the summer of 2015 from Manchester City in a deal that totaled €15 million between a season loan and an option to buy that became mandatory after certain performance-related goals were met. His first season in Italy did not go as smoothly as he’d hoped, scoring just 8 goals in 31 Serie A matches. After resisting several offers the following summer to prove he was worthy of Roma colours, Džeko delivered in a massive way, bagging 29 goals on his way to the capocannoniere.
This season however, he has seen a noticeable drop in performance, hitting home just 9 times in 20 appearances.
On the surface, this appears to be average production from a first-choice striker (one goal in every two games). However, with Roma struggling of late to feed the former Wolfsburg standout a steady flow of chances, Dzeko (31 going on 32 in March) is perhaps entering the twilight of his career. Sporting director Monchi would be wise to turn a profit nearly double what they spent on him while the value remains high.
Chomping at the bit behind the tall Bosnian is lanky forward Patrik Schick who, albeit still raw, cost them a pretty penny (estimated €42 million with bonuses included) last summer and is ready to take over full reigns as Roma’s number nine moving forward.
In short, you won’t find many Roma supporters upset over selling an aging Dzeko who has struggled to replicate last season’s scintillating form, especially with a 21-year old Schick waiting in the wings. However, that is not so much the case for 23-year old Emerson Palmieri.
Opinions on this possible move appear a bit divided at the moment. The Santos born defender spent his early years plying his trade locally in Brazil at Santos until Palermo president Maurizio Zamparini eventually brought him to Sicily in August 2014 on loan with a buyout clause attached. Under manager Giuseppe Iachini, the talented fullback was limited to nine appearances, but there was something in him that appealed to acting Roma director Walter Sabatini who recognised the value was there for the taken.
Impressed with Emerson’s exploits despite a small sampling at the Stadio Renzo Barbera the prior year, Roma took him on loan for 2015 where he played second choice option to Paris Saint-Germain loanee Lucas Digne. A limited fixture in the Roma setup, he appeared in just 183 total minutes for the 2015-16 season under Rudi Garcia and Luciano Spalletti, but did showed glimpses of potential in those brief spells on the pitch.
The club decided to extend his loan for the following season where he played a much larger role in the after Digne gave way to the Brazilian-Italian after he was acquired by Barcelona.
Breaking out in a big way for Roma as Spalletti’s primary left-back in 2016-17, Emerson started a total of 23 league matches, in the process, being bought outright for a meager €2 million from Palermo after reaching the 12 appearance threshold. However, shortly after former Italian National Team head coach Gianpiero Ventura named Emerson in his Italy side for the first time for a friendly with San Marino, Emerson sustained an anterior cruciate ligament injury on the final day of the Serie A season that required immediate surgery.
For Emerson, the injury could not have come at a worser time as he already cemented himself as a starter for the current season, while perhaps playing some role in the Azzurri’s disastrous World Cup qualifying campaign. Not to mention, as a result of his unfortunate injury, Monchi moved in to bring balance and a veteran presence to the backline with the inexpensive, yet shrewd, addition of Manchester City’s Aleksandar Kolarov on a bargain €5 million move.
With Kolarov, Roma struck gold as the Serbian’s been arguably the top player at his position in the league. Since Emerson returned to the fray last month in a brief cameo from the bench versus SPAL, and played the full ninety in defeat to Torino in the Coppa Italia, we really weren’t sure what role he’d play in the second half of the season.
Of course, seeing as Kolarov is 32 and still performing above league standards, breaking into the starting eleven looks a bit bleak considering manager Eusebio Di Francesco can ill-afford to take many risks and drop the Serb for a younger, still delicate defender in Emerson who must be eased back into a tight race to finish top four.
Though we still need to see how well Emerson responds to his injury and prolonged spell on the shelf, there is plenty to like in the Santos-bred talent.
Effortlessly quick down the left flank, Emerson’s dribbling ability and sudden change of direction prove he has wherewithal to come out on top in most one-on-on situations to beat his man. His drive and work-rate to plunge forward as an attacking option, work in the build-up and expand play the field of play with overlapping runs which we saw regularly last season is where he tends to demonstrate the most quality.
Despite Emerson showing rawness in certain areas of his game, mostly on the back-end, few rival Conte in his meticulous approach to getting the most from his players through trust, effort on the training ground and sacrifice. An ideal option in both a four-man defensive shape or as a wingback/left midfielder in an Antonio Conte 3-4-3 which has seen players like Marcos Alonso and Victor Moses thrive in, it’s quite clear why ‘the Blues’ are willing to take a substantial risk worth around €25 million on the Brazilian after his injury hiatus, especially when you consider the market rate for talented individuals with his profile hitting historic heights.
Now certainly, there is plenty of risk involved on both ends in making these moves. For Roma who currently fifth in the table after Sunday’s draw with Inter, most would expect Monchi to be proactive in adding to the squad for a strong run at a top four finish, not subtracting. At the same time, the Giallorossi are needing the money to help sort things out on the books, address FFP concerns and the effects of possibly missing out on the Champions League.
Selling Džeko, as much as it may sting over these next six months, is a risk worth taking based on everything mentioned above – even if it could prove ineffective should Roma miss out on Europe. As for Emerson, it is never easy to project how a player will return from such a taxing injury, which is why Roma selling for a massive gain is justifiable business when you consider Kolarov should have at least another strong year in his legs. Chelsea’s wallet allows them to make this sort of deal, even if it remains unclear which version of Emerson we will see once he is ready to take on heavier responsibilities.
Džeko could bring immediate support to Alvaro Morata’s quiet scoring form through a veteran presence up front, while Emerson is a player who could easily see his value skyrocket with one strong bounce-back season in England at a massive club like Chelsea.
The reigning Premier League champions pressed on to bring Juventus’ Alex Sandro to Stamford Bridge for months, and are likely still interested in making that happen. However, at less than half the price, and three years the age, could have a superb left-back for years to come, all of which what makes this a tricky sale for Roma who aren’t exactly saddled with a ton of young talent to form a foundation for the future.
While Roma gain large profits, and alleviate some financial constraints in the process with these possible moves, it goes without saying: this is a risk and only time will tell if it’s one they regret – and one Chelsea make off like bandits with.