Updates from Tuesday, Aug. 26
The future of Mehdi Benatia is expected to be settled in the coming days as Roma line up Kostas Manolas as his replacement.
Benatia is officially a Bayern player, according to the German club's official Twitter feed:
Di Marzio provides further details, translated by Enrico Passarella:
The clubs reached an agreement on a €26M fee plus €4M add-ons: €30M in total, as Roma’s management wanted. Benatia will sign a five-year contract and will earn €4M per year.
Corriere dello Sport reports Manolas' imminent arrival at Roma, via 101 Great Goals:
After news broke on Monday night linking the Greek centre half (Manolas) to Rudi Garcia’s outfit, the front page of Italian daily Corriere Dello Sport on Tuesday has rubber stamped the transfer of the sought-after Greek defender to the Stadio Olimpico.
Manolas is being recruited by Roma to replace the outgoing Mehdi Benatia, who is set to leave for Bayern Munich or either Monaco before the summer transfer window shuts.
Updates from Thursday, Aug. 21
Mehdi Benatia may yet end up at Manchester United or Arsenal after Roma representatives reportedly flew to England to speak to both clubs.
Gazzetta dello Sport provides the latest, per 101 Great Goals:
According to Gazzetta Dello Sport on Thursday, Roma’s directors will meet with Manchester United and Arsenal to discuss the sale of defender Mehdi Benatia after the player rejected a contract extension at the Giallorossi.
Roma’s sporting director Walter Sabatini and general manager Mauro Baldissoni are both said to be in London at the moment ready to talk to Arsene Wenger and Louis van Gaal.
Updates from Wednesday, Aug. 20
Mehdi Benatia has told Roma he wants to join Bayern Munich, according to Wednesday's edition of L'Equipe.
The news will come as a major blow to Manchester United and Chelsea, who have seemingly missed out on their target. 101 Great Goals summarises the L'Equipe report:
L’Equipe report that Benatia’s agent, Moussa Sissoko, was in Munich on Monday where he came to a complete agreement on personal terms.
On Tuesday, Bayern made an offer of 30 million euros, but Roma are holding out for 35 million euros.
Crucially for Manchester United’s interest, Benatia has told Roma that he wants to join Bayern Munich.
Enrico Passarella of gianlucadimarzio.com confirms that a meeting between Roma and Benatia's agent has taken place, noting that the fee could be the major sticking point for Bayern:
Benatia’s future at Roma was discussed earlier today. As expected, Walter Sabatini met the agent of the defender Sissoko in Milan. There is optimism coming from Roma. Benatia was offered an extension, he hasn’t accepted it yet but he’s evaluating carefully the proposal.
[...] It remains to be seen whether the player is willing or not to accept the offer or if Bayern are ready to raise their bid, which, as for today, is lower than €30M: not enough for Roma.
AS Roma centre-back Mehdi Benatia is certainly not short of suitors. In recent days, struggling Premier League outfit Manchester United has been credited with interest, along with Bundesliga power FC Bayern Munich.
It's Munich who currently lead the way, according to the latest reports. A report from GianlucaDiMarzio.com suggests Bayern are readying an offer, if negotiations over a contract extension between the player and Roma falter: "The German club is the only one that is really interested in Benatia, they are willing to offer €25M plus bonuses, to be paid in two years. The bid is too low compared to Roma’s price tag. Tomorrow could be the day of truth for Benatia."
Suggestions Bayern are the sole interested party contradict reports of strong interest from Old Trafford. Sky Sports News reporter Jim White sent the rumour mill into overdrive when he declared United and Benatia could be close to a deal:
But it didn't take long for conflicting reports to emerge from Germany that Bayern boss Pep Guardiola had actually moved into pole position for the 27-year-old:
SportBild reporting that Bayern are close to buy Rome-defender Mehdi Benatia. Will replace Martinez who damaged his knee at the SuperCup— Jan Aage Fjortoft (@JanAageFjortoft) August 17, 2014
United have a major need for defensive reinforcements. That need is most obvious in the middle, following the departures of stout pairing Nemanja Vidic and Rio Ferdinand.
However, United have many other positions to fill. They also can't offer the lure of UEFA Champions League football, something that would influence Benatia.
But United were apparently resigned to defeat early on in their mooted pursuit of Benatia, according to Manchester Evening News writer Stuart Mathieson:
Manchester United are edging closer to sealing the complicated deal to bring Sporting Lisbon’s Marcos Rojo to Old Trafford.
However, MEN Sport understands the Reds have no interest in Roma’s 27-year-old giant defender Mehdi Benatia. ...
...Roma’s French-born defender Benatia, despite reports saying the player was in Manchester and close to signing, is not on van Gaal’s wish list.
Van Gaal's focus on other targets has certainly left the path clear for Bayern. It's a path Guardiola needs to tread after losing a key figure at the back.
As Fjortoft noted, the injury to versatile powerhouse Javi Martinez has created a pressing need for Guardiola to strengthen his options along Munich's defence. A move for Benatia makes sense because the French-born Moroccan international is a defender who is both rugged in the challenge, as well as comfortable in possession.
Guardiola certainly likes his defenders to help the team build passing moves from deep. Benatia has the technical qualities to do just that.
For their part, Bayern's representatives are remaining cagey about the extent of their interest in a player valued at £24.64 million by Transfermarkt.co.uk.
Munich chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge told Sport1.de (h/t Sky Sports), that his club is wary of Benatia's soaring value: "We're not going to say anything because, if in doubt, that could only make the player more expensive. If we do do anything on the transfer market, then it will all depend on the quality and the price."
However, Bayern can't afford to start haggling over a price following Martinez's injury. The bulky Basque defensive midfielder, who can also play centre-back, is out until at least next year, after tearing a cruciate ligament, per The Observer, via The Guardian.
The same report indicates Guardiola has been experimenting with a three-man defence during preseason, making the need for a quality replacement even greater. Bayern are also attempting to bounce back after being demolished 5-0 on aggregate by Real Madrid in last season's Champions League semi-final.
That's a result that makes fortifying the defence an obvious priority for Guardiola. At this stage of the summer market, he'll struggle to find a more suitable option than Benatia.