Il Tempo (Adriano Serafini) He doesn’t leave for some time yet, but Roma are already starting to feel his absence. Maybe it’s because his hat-trick against Bologna is still fresh in the memory, or maybe it’s just because no one at Trigoria will be smiling when he goes. Either way, the Giallorossi have two things they want to do while Mohamed Salah is away at the African Cup of Nations. Firstly they want (and need) to go back into the transfer market to look for a replacement who can fill the void left by the Egyptian, and secondly Roma will initiate contact with the player’s entourage in the coming months to discuss a new contract extension.
No meetings have been scheduled yet, as there are more urgent contractual talks to be concluded first (Strootman and Manolas in particular), but since both parties are keen to for the player to stay it could mean talks are accelarated in order to avoid foreign clubs starting to take an interest. After all, Salah’s performances have certainly not gone unnoticed by the top European clubs, who have been following Momo’s stats with interest over the last year and a half: the winger has scored 24 goals and made 14 assists in all during his time with the Giallorossi.
In order to avoid potentially inviting bids next summer, or at least to ensure that they find themselves with a strong contractual position, Roma are thinking about extending the Egyptian’s deal (which currently expires in June 2019) for at least another year, guaranteeing the player a slight increase on his current salary of around €3 million net per season (plus bonuses).
This scenario would please everyone at Trigoria, most of all Salah himself. The 24 year old is relishing his time in the capital and has never thought about moving on somewhere else, convinced that Roma’s plans are progressing well and that things are in place – even this season – to achieve the aim of winning a trophy. The club, for their part, don’t intend to lose one of the squad’s key players who is at the peak of his game and who has certainly increased his transfer value in recent months. Luciano Spalletti’s position shouldn’t be forgotten either: the coach sees Salah as a vital part of his plan if he is to extend his own contract as Giallorossi coach.
Before all that, however, the club need to attend to the present. The new sporting director Massara is working to identify a new winger who presents a viable alternative to Salah while he is away. Given the club’s financial resources, they are looking for someone who can perform primarily in Serie A, but who could also end up being a part of the squad rotation in the future. In the meantime, while Egypt participate in the African Cup of Nations, El Shaarawy and Perotti will be expected to fill in for Salah on the wings.
The club always have an eye on the French Ligue 1 (a league that Massara knows particularly well), but their search for a new forward has alerted agents and intermediaries who have put forward the usual plethora of offers. Gomez and Defrel both have the characteristics that Roma are looking for, but their respective clubs’ high valuations of their players is currently stopping any sort of negotiation from progressing. Bringing in Depay would also be difficult, as even though he is on the fringes of the team at Manchester United he has a lucrative contract worth over €5 million net a season. But there’s still time for Roma to make their final decision.