Roma defender Konstantinos Manolas has claimed he turned down moves to Juventus and Arsenal this summer.
The 23-year-old, who saw his stock rise after a solid World Cup in Brazil with Greece, was the subject of much summer interest after impressing at Olympiakos last term.
But despite Massimiliano Allegri and Arsene Wenger attempting to lure him to either the Juventus or Emirates Stadium, he opted for Rudi Garcia’s Roma and is now an integral member of the squad looking for a first league title since 2001.
Many regard the youngster as one of the most promising defensive talents in world football, and moved to the Stadio Olimpico to fill the void left by Mehdi Benatia’s departure to Pep Guardiola’s Bayern Munich.
He delivered a defensive masterclass as the Greek outfit nullified the threat of David Moyes’ Manchester United side in a 2-0 win in the Champions League earlier this year, though was hopeless in the reverse fixture where Robin Van Persie fired the Red Devils through to the quarter-finals.
Manolas also lifted the league title with Olympiakos in May, before being called up to this summer’s Samba showpiece to top off a fine season with club and country.
With Garcia actively looking for a centre-back in pre-season he was signed for a transfer fee of £10.3million on a five-year deal and could end the season a league champion of Italy’s top flight.
Prior to signing on the capital he had been heavily linked with a move to the Premier League, with Arsenal keen to provide competition for Laurent Koscileny and Per Mertesacker in the defensive area.
Club captain Thomas Vermaelen left for Luis Enrique’s Barcelona, but when it became clear Manolas was destined for Italy, Wenger decided to settle with England wonderkid Calum Chambers who had been signed from Southampton earlier in the summer.
The Frenchman has been criticised by many of his own support for his failings in the transfer market, who despite landing Alexis Sanchez from the Catalan giants and Danny Welbeck from Manchester United, still failed to sign a top class defender and central midfielder.
Juventus were also interested but were also keen on Manchester City’s Matijia Nastasic, and ultimately chose to invest their money on Patrice Evra and Alvaro Morata instead.
The Greek has the potential to blossom into the best defender in world football.
Garcia’s men currently trail the Old Lady by just a point at the top of the table, and could finally end their title draught after finishing runners-up last year.
His career just keeps going from strength. Club and country will reap the rewards when he reaches the maximum potential, and Arsenal and Juventus could come to regret missing out.
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