Roma have cancelled a meeting with Bayern Munich set for later today to discuss the future of unsettled defender Mehdi Benatia after rejecting a €24 million offer for the Moroccan international, according to Sky Italia journalist Gianluca di Marzio.
Bayern were confident of moving the Benatia deal forward and were due to meet Roma sporting director Walter Sabatini in Munich this afternoon, but the Giallorossi are playing hardball over a fee for the towering centre-back and want much closer to to £30m before sanctioning his exit.
That breakdown in talks has opened the door to both Manchester United and Arsenal, who are both in the market for a top defender and held tentative talks over Benatia with Sabatini in London last week.
Mehdi the 'mercenary'
Benatia's determination to force through a late summer switch after just a single season in the Eternal City has seen him branded; 'Mehdi the mercenary' in the Italian press, while also threatening to overshadow Roma's preparations for the new Serie A campaign.
Roma have built a squad they hope can challenge Juve for the Scudetto this season and also cope with the demands of Champions League football, but Giallorossi boss Rudi Garcia is now resigned to that campaign beginning without Benatia.
Contract talks the final straw
Last week saw Roma admit defeat in their effort to keep Benatia after he refused to sign a new contract despite being offered a bumper pay rise, as reward for fine form that helped Roma keep a whopping 20 clean sheets in Serie A last season.
Roma still want a premium price for their defensive linchpin though and are now hoping Man United or Arsenal are willing to outbid Bayern, with the Red Devils in particular still desperate to land a top centre-back before next Monday's transfer deadline.
Arsenal also still need a replacement for Thomas Vermaelen and a growing injury crisis at Bayern means their interest in Benatia remains strong, which all means this particular transfer tussle could still go down to the wire.
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