Roma’s hopes of hanging onto Daniele de Rossi have been dealt a blow with the revelation that the midfielder has been learning English.
De Rossi made the admission while practicing his language skills on a teacher at his daughter’s school, who coincidentally is a former Manchester United scout.
The fact that the Italy international has been having language lessons would seem to quash the theory that he would never consider leaving his boyhood club and will come as a serious setback to the Roma directors who are desperate to hang on to their vice-captain.
Roberto Mancini has described him as “the perfect fit for Man City” and is reportedly lining him up to plug the big gap in midfield that will be left by Yaya Toure’s departure to the African Cup of Nations.
De Rossi is out of contract in the summer and his club may be forced to cash in on him if he refuses their latest offer, a slightly desperate £5m-a-season deal, which even includes a £21m release clause allowing him to leave if he changes his mind.
Whatever the outcome of this protracted saga, the midfielder's commitment to learning the language is rather more impressive than that of his fellow countryman, Fabio Capello, who famously claimed to be able to do his job with just 100 English words.