For years, Italian goalkeepers have all faced a similar fate at the international level if their name isn’t Gianluigi Buffon – playing second fiddle to an undisputed legend.
At Roma, the same goes for any attacker with ambitions of dislodging the city’s favourite son from his place in the Giallorossi line-up, the seemingly eternal Francesco Totti.
It’s a situation that has it’s grip on the talented Mattia Destro at the moment. The 23-year-old has all the tools to be a top striker, but must fight to get into the starting eleven each week.
Giallorossi boss Rudi Garcia is well aware of what he has in Destro. He reportedly demanded that the Ascoli native be kept over the summer, and Destro in turn expressed a true desire to stay at the Stadio Olimpico.
In the background, Chelsea were said to be seriously interested in him. So were Tottenham Hotspur, while heavy links with Wolfsburg persisted for months on end.
Roma president James Pallotta confirmed in late August that many offers had been received for the €25 million-rated star, but he wouldn’t be sold at any rate.
At present, Destro has been handed six starts between Serie A and the Champions League. He’s scored four times in league play, yet to get on the scoresheet in 90 minutes of European football.
And a comment he recently made on ‘a lack of space in the first team’ has done the rounds, his response taken to mean that he could be open to leaving Roma for more consistent minutes.
Tuttomercatoweb now report that Arsenal have jumped at the situation. Arsene Wenger is said to be pressing to sign the striker in January, with an ‘informal’ enquiry already made.
“Destro is more than an idea,” say the Italian outlet. “Wenger is planning for the future. And in his thoughts is Mattia Destro. The manager of the English club is pushing for the striker.”
But while Wenger may indeed like Destro, there is more to consider here.
On the Arsenal side, Destro wouldn’t be stepping into a ready-made scenario. The Gunners just bought Danny Welbeck, while Olivier Giroud returns from injury soon.
Minutes would already be at a premium in the centre-forward role. If it’s more minutes that he wants, going to the Emirates wouldn’t be a schrewd move – there’s even more competition that at Roma.
With respect to his current employers, it’s doubtful their stance on selling him has changed so quickly.
Despite getting three less starts than Totti in Serie A, he’s the club’s top scorer with four goals. Destro offers something different than the 38-year-old. Totti acts as a false nine in Garcia’s 4-3-3 formation, while Destro acts as a more traditional forward.
Garcia needs the change of pace in attack. Beyond this, Destro is a great asset given his youth. Totti is still brilliant for his age, but the Giallorossi know that Destro is the future.
January would be an inopportune time to offload him, both from a tactical and business standpoint. In addition, it’s questionable Arsenal would pay upwards of €25 million for a player they arguably don’t need.
Wenger always has an eye out for young talent, but it’s hard to see him snagging Destro in January at this point. Neither Roma nor Arsenal should be inclined to do a deal.