Today, AS Roma’s director of football Gianluca Petrachi confirmed what has been reported in the football newspapers over the past week or so — Roma is interested in purchasing Toby Alderweireld from Tottenham Hotspur, but are trying to do it on the cheap.
Petrarchi confirmed in quotes to the Italian media that Alderweireld is one of Roma’s targets as they try and shore up their defensive line, and that former Spurs director of football Franco Baldini, now at the Serie A club, could be a major help in negotiations. However, they are trying to get Toby for less than his £25m release clause and Petrarchi tried to clarify that Baldini was not heading up Roma’s negotiations.
“I realize there is a release clause for Alderweireld, but [Franco] Baldini has a strong rapport with Spurs directors, he worked there for many years and can support Roma in signing Alderweireld.
“If you want to say that Baldini negotiates on our behalf, then that is incorrect. I want it to be clear that he is of support to Roma and in the specific case of Alderweireld is an idea to help us save a bit of money. We’d be happy if we could sign him tomorrow without paying the release clause.
“I don’t like to talk about specific players, but obviously with Ivan Marcano and Kostas Manolas sold, we need two centre-backs and that is the priority. We are working on several fronts and have clear ideas on what we intend to do.”
However, Petrarchi also dashed cold water on the idea that Nicolo Zaniolo might be included in any deal that would send Toby to Rome, saying that he was “not on the market.”
“It’s not right that every word we say gets built up into some giant story. I understand your point of view, but I never put Zaniolo on the market.
“I can’t rule anything out either, because nobody thought Juventus would sell Zinedine Zidane and yet they did. What I can say is that today Zaniolo is not on the market. We evaluate everything, but must also be clear.”
This could be Petrarchi using weasel-words to keep the vultures off Zaniolo — of course Roma haven’t “put him on the market” but that doesn’t mean that he won’t be sold. It could also be a negotiation tactic to keep Zaniolo’s price high. Or maybe Roma really aren’t going to sell Zaniolo, but that would make the active negotiations for Alderweireld even weirder unless the funds from his sale would be earmarked for another target like Giovani Lo Celso or Ryan Sessegnon.
It does seem as though Rome is probably Toby’s best best for a landing location if he does indeed leave Spurs this summer. I’m not sure exactly what’s in it for Tottenham to sell him for that cheap, however.