Originally loaned to Napoli by Dinamo Zagreb, Marko Rog turned his temporary stay in the south of Italy into a permanent one in 2017 when the Serie A side spent £11.7m on his services.
Despite the relatively high fee, the 23-year-old has only played sporadically, exemplified this season by his 92 minutes of football spread over four appearances from the bench.
However, Carlo Ancelotti knew he would have a use for the midfielder, and that’s why he asked Napoli to block a potential departure over the summer, as Southampton were interested in Rog’s services.
According to Calciomercato, a number of offers arrived on Carlo Giuntoli’s desk, the club’s director of football, ‘especially’ from the Saints.
The Italian website mention Napoli could have made around €17m from a direct sale, although it isn’t made clear if that’s what Southampton offered, or if it came from somebody else.
Ancelotti’s plan appears to gradually include the Croatia international into his team as the season goes on, probably aware he could easily end up in the Europa League if he doesn’t get points against Liverpool or Paris Saint-Germain in their Champions League group.
Unfortunately for Southampton, Rog’s future appears to be at St Paul’s (San Paolo), and not at St Mary’s.
Yes, it was a terrible linguistic “joke”. We know.