Mehdi Benatia doesn’t look to be leaving the Stadio Olimpico any time soon.
The Moroccan has gone from strength to strength since moving to AS Roma from Udinese last summer for €13.5m, leading Serie A’s most miserly defense alongside Leandro Castan.
As such, the 26-year-old has become an object of envy from elite clubs looking to bolster their ranks at the back, particularly an ailing Manchester United side in need of reinforcements.
Nemanja Vidic will depart Old Trafford in the summer for Inter whilst fellow veteran Rio Ferdinand is also set to wave goodbye to David Moyes’ outfit.
Benatia has emerged as a leading candidate in the Scot’s bid to revitalise his back line ahead of next season, with Barcelona also said to be circling the former Marseille man.
But Roma have reportedly already taken steps to lock up their prize asset for years to come, talks having been staged surrounding a new contract that would offer the centre-back a significant pay rise.
Any sort of deal for Benatia would be difficult for United even discounting the proposed renewal as he only just moved to the Italian capital, where he will likely be playing Champions League football next term - something that can’t be said of the red side of Manchester.
And Benatia himself appears to have now landed the killer blow for Moyes’ and company in their reported pursuit of his services, citing his assurance that joining the Giallorossi was a prudent choice, and not one he’s willing to go back on.
“At the end of last season, my agent told me of Roma’s interest,” he told AS Roma Membership.
“”I was convinced that the choice was the right one after speaking to [director of sport] Walter Sabatini, as looking into his eyes made me realise the club was really interested in me.
“I was surely a priority for them, not just one of many - I had given my word to the director, and once one’s word is given, the discussion is closed.
“I’m very happy with the choice I made.”