Manchester City: Why Roberto Mancini Wants Roma's Erik Lamela and Miralem Pjanic
It's certainly true that Manchester City boss has been linked with the Giallorossi bench in the press, but the Italian tactician also has strong links to the Genoa side, and as a club legend, it's just as likely that Mancini was simply there to enjoy what was ultimately an impressive win for the Blucerchiati.
Another theory put forward in the media was that Mancini was on hand to run the rule over several of the Roman side's players.
Since the American takeover in 2011, the Lupi have focused on bringing in young talent and developing their own players from the youth set-up. And while the results on the pitch have been very hit or miss, emphasis on the miss, their individual developments have been extremely interesting.
Daniele De Rossi's been a target for much of Europe's elite for some time, but he now shares the dressing room with some of Italy's most exciting young talent. The 18-year-old Brazilian defender Marquinhos, 22-year-old Bosnian midfielder Miralem Pjanic and the 21-year-old Argentinian phenomenon Erik Lamela being chief among them.
Lamela and Pjanic would undoubtedly make for interesting additions for the Citizens.
Reports in the French press have consistently linked Samir Nasri with a move away from Manchester in the summer, following a disappointing campaign from the former Arsenal man, and Pjanic would make an excellent—if not like-for-like—replacement.
The intelligent and creative Pjanic has impressed at Roma, and while the Giallorossi will want to keep hold of the young Bosnian, there's no doubt that the continued presence—and fine form—of club legend Francesco Totti in the squad makes finding a place for Pjanic difficult.
The former Lyon man is a deeper playmaker than his current captain, but fitting the two into Roma's side has not always been the best option in the Italian capital.
Lamela, meanwhile, is a lightening quick attacking midfielder who plays well out wide and through the middle. The Argentinian has a sublime first touch, is excellent on the ball at pace and loves to shoot.
The continuing debate surrounding Scott Sinclair's future means that Mancini's side might well need another option on the wing, and with the departure of Mario Balotelli to AC Milan, they could use another attacking option ahead of what will be a busy 2013-14 season at home and in Europe.
Mancini has been vocal about what he percieves to be an occasional lack of desire in his squad. Speaking earlier in the season, he said:
You win the title, then you think it's enough to play 50% and you don't arrive the next year. It's always more difficult to retain the league than win it. We arrived at the top. The problem is to stay there a long time. You do that only if your mentality is strong.
Bringing in two young, highly-talented additions could be just what the doctor ordered to re-inspire his squad.
Despite playing out wide in a three-man attack, Lamela has scored 12 times in 23 league appearances this season. Pjanic, who plays deeper in the midfield, has contributed three—including a spectacular free kick to secure a draw away at Atalanta in horrific conditions—and provided the assist for five more.
Roma aren't in need of money and have designs on success of their own, so it remains unlikely that they're going to want to let go two of their best players. And some put their individual values as high as £30 million, meaning City would have to think long and hard about the move too.
But there's no doubting the pair's quality—or the fact that they could light up the Premier League. Lamela's speedy dribbles and ability to overcome physical defenders make him seem a perfect fit for English football, and Pjanic's nuanced creativity, passing range and overall flair add up to an attractive package for any top European side.
Mancini was likely just in Genoa to catch up with old friends and to see Sampdoria seal a special win, but he'll have had an eye on Roma's roster because, while you can't believe everything you read in the papers, even if he's not in the eternal city to discuss the Roma job, the man from Italy's Marche region might just soon pop over on a shopping trip.
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