Roma sign Benatia and a new goalie you've never heard of
Roma's mercato has swung into gear, with the long rumoured, we-know-it's-coming-just-sign-the-papers-already deal for Mehdi Amine El Moutaqui Benatia being made official and a surprising goalkeeper being signed.
No, not surprising in the "It's Gianluigi Buffon!!!" kind of way. It's surprising in the "him?!" kind of way.
Benatia has signed a five year deal at Roma from Udinese with two youngsters heading in the other direction. Nico Lopez and Valerio Verre will play for Francesco Guidolin next season on co-ownership.
The cost of all this wheeling and dealing? Roma paid €13.5 million to Udinese for Benatia. At first glance, this figure seems somewhat high, but the 26-year-old is a proven Serie A calibre center-back. His cost is also somewhat offset by the money brought in from Udinese taking the duo on loan: Verre cost them €2.5 million and Lopez just €1 million, which frankly seems like an absolute steal for Udinese for the latter. Lopez has shined for his national team when given the chance to play and seems certain to become a very good striker in his own time.
Co-ownership nevertheless is a vital step in the development of both players; Udinese now have much more of a reason to play the duo, Roma can monitor their development, and at the end of the season, both clubs can decide what action to take. After all, there aren't too many better strikers for Lopez to learn from than Antonio Di Natale (there is that Francesco Totti man but his main job right now is surely teaching Mattia Destro a thing or two) and Guidolin has done wonders turning young players into great ones (Alexis Sanchez, take a bow).
And a replacement has arrived for Maarten Stekelenburg - maybe (not really). Lukasz Skorupski, the 22-year-old Polish goalkeeper, has been signed from Gornik Zabrze for €890,000 on a four-year deal with an option for a fifth. His role in the side is unclear, to be perfectly honest, but it seems that he'll be a third-choice goalkeeper, loaned out, or possible primavera player if he squeaks in under the age requirements. He's certainly not what most fans had in mind to replace the Dutchman who didn't quite work out and I, for one, suspect a much more established number one will still arrive to become Roma's starter.
Nevertheless, Rudi Garcia's squad is beginning to take shape. Benatia's arrival along with Tin Jedvaj is only going to continue raising questions about which center-back will be leaving the side by the end of the summer. But for the time being, the former's arrival is only a good thing for a team that desperately needs to come together at the back.