Roma sporting director Monchi has set the record straight on what happened with Roma's ultimately doomed pursuit of Brazilian forward Malcom.
On Monday afternoon Malcom's club, French side Bordeaux, announced on Twitter that a deal had been agreed with Roma for the transfer of the player. The Giallorossi subsequently followed suit, with the player scheduled to arrive in the Italian capital to undergo a medical later that day.
However, on Tuesday it was announced that the 21-year-old will instead be signing for Barcelona, after the Spanish club joined the race late on.
Speaking to Roma TV, Monchi explained how the situation unfolded from his perspective.
It has been two dramatic days in the transfer market: can you explain what happened with Malcom?
“What happened with Malcom is easy to explain, but perhaps a bit harder to fully understand. He is a player that we liked a lot from a footballing perspective, he had the attributes that we were looking for.
“We started a negotiation with Bordeaux and the player, through his agent, more or less a week ago. After three of four days of intensive negotiations, yesterday at about 5pm [Italian time] we found an agreement; with the agent, with the player and with Bordeaux.
“The deal was done, and we had permission for the player to travel to Rome for a medical. There was a plane scheduled to leave at 9pm that would arrive at 11pm; everything was sorted. Because of this we were calm and collected.”
In the afternoon Roma confirmed on Twitter that the negotiations had been concluded, after Bordeaux had already announced it themselves on the same site. It was unusual for the club to do that. What happened?
“Once we found the agreement with Bordeaux, about 30 minutes later their president, Stephane Martin, called me to tell me that there were a lot of rumours surrounding the deal, and for them it would be better to make an official statement. I told him that, for us, it would not be ideal – as we are listed on the stock exchange and have to respect certain rules – but he insisted, and they ultimately did a tweet to announce the agreement.
“Because of this, we also followed up with the same statement. Everything was done, but about an hour after the announcement, there started to be suggestions of a new interest from Barcelona.
“It is true that, a few days ago, I was aware that a lot of squads were keen on Malcom – Barcelona among them. Because of this we got the deal agreed as quickly as we could: it was done. So I was very surprised when one of the representatives of the player called me to tell me that Bordeaux had withdrawn permission for the player to travel to Rome.
"I called Martin, and he told me that an offer had come in from Barcelona that was better than ours and that if we did not raise our offer we could not have the player. I told him that we had an agreement, we had made the deal, but he said that nothing had been signed and that, despite having exchanged some documents to be signed, nothing could be done.
“I informed our president, telling him of the change – and he gave me the green light to push forward and make a new offer that was better than Barcelona’s. That was against my opinion, but he insisted he was willing and said, “Go for it.”
“I informed the Bordeaux president and his agents that Roma were ready to beat Barcelona’s offer. Their president told me that we needed to send it in officially. At 11pm we submitted a formal document with the offer President Pallotta was willing to make.
“The agents and the Bordeaux president told me that if all was agreed, today [Tuesday] we would be able to exchange the documents and the player would again be authorised to travel to Rome in the evening. Early this morning I spoke with Malcom’s agent, Fernando Garcia, who had a meeting with Bordeaux planned at 12pm to confirm everything was in place for the player to travel to Rome in the evening.
“After that meeting, I was surprised to be told that the agents and Bordeaux wanted another improved offer, as Barcelona were still pushing for a deal. I told them enough, because we did not want to enter an auction: we could not continue like that, and yesterday we had only raised our offer because of the willingness and desire of our president. So that was how everything ended.
“Now, within the club, we are looking at our options and seeing if we have a legal case. It is true that nothing was signed, but there are many messages with the agents and their president that are at least worth being assessed.”
Is there something you want to say to the fans right now?
“I am very sorry for what has happened, but I believe that we had a complete agreement with Bordeaux – and then offered even more than that to get it done again. President Pallotta made the decision to make the best offer possible, but when the negotiation became an auction we decided to withdraw from it. If someone wants to come to Roma that is great, but ultimately if they do not want to come to Rome then we do not want them.
“I want to tell our fans that we are continuing to work hard, working to identify a player that wants to come to Roma and is the equal or even better than Malcom.”