A definitive history of every time Nacho was linked with Roma

In a parallel universe, Nacho Fernandez could have been one of Roma’s longest-serving players of the modern era – judging by how often he was linked with a transfer to the club.

It became a running joke for Roma fans to expect links with Nacho in virtually every transfer window, with the original links dating as far back as 2015.

For all that time, the defender remained a Real Madrid player. In fact, he gave his hometown club more than a decade of service, despite not always being a regular starter.

His squad status is probably what led to him being linked with other clubs for so long, but for whatever reason, Roma always seemed to be among the list of suitors. As you are about to read, there is evidence that they were interested in him before, but how much truth there ever was in the rumours that followed for years will remain a mystery.

Here, Giallorossi Yorkshire takes you through the definitive journey of Nacho’s links with Roma.


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Nacho’s journey with Roma could have begun in 2015, when the departure of Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa and decision not to convert Davide Astori’s loan move into a permanent transfer opened up some vacancies in defence.

On 18th July, Roma faced Real Madrid in a pre-season friendly in the USA for the second year in a row. Nacho played and scored a penalty in the shootout – which Roma won – after a 0-0 draw.

On 14th August, Il Tempo reported that Roma would choose between Nacho and Antonio Rudiger (who coincidentally would eventually become teammates at Real Madrid between 2022 and 2024) to reinforce their defence. A day later, La Gazzetta Dello Sport claimed the Real Madrid man – aged 25 at the time – was the main target.

On 17th August, Sport in Spain even claimed Roma had made an offer to Real Madrid. As it turns out, that offer was either rejected or didn’t exist, since Nacho stayed in the Spanish capital. Meanwhile, Rudiger did arrive on loan from Stuttgart.


In the next transfer window, midway through the 2015-16 season, there was once again talk of Roma bidding for Nacho.

On 19th January, Il Corriere Dello Sport suggested it would either be Nacho or Samuel Umtiti to replace Leandro Castan. On the same day, Cadena Cope claimed Roma had made an €8m offer.

Nacho’s agent confirmed contact with Serie A clubs on 21st January, but that was that for the winter window. He saw out the season with Real Madrid instead (although he was absent for both legs of the Champions League last-16 tie with Roma).

The summer of 2016 would be the one in which Nacho was most intensively linked with Roma.

On 9th June, Nacho was now listed as an objective to replace Rudiger (who would in fact stay for another season) by sources such as Il Messaggero and Sky Sport Italia.

Two days later, Alfredo Pedulla reported that Roma would meet with Real Madrid to discuss Nacho, who was said to have informed his club he wanted to leave on loan. By the 13th, Sky confirmed contacts were underway for the deal.

On 15th June, Il Messaggero claimed Nacho had said yes to a move to Roma, while Luciano Spalletti’s interest in the deal was confirmed. However, six days later, Marca reported that Real had told Nacho he was staying.

That wasn’t the end of that, though. Roma were said to have made a loan offer with an option to buy for €12m, but Il Messaggero said Real rejected it on the 22nd. A couple of weeks later, the situation escalated again.

In July, Roma closed in on the signing of Juan Jesus, but still wanted Nacho too. In fact, this is where there is evidence Roma actually did try to sign the Spaniard.

On the 8th, Pedulla claimed Real were now open to a sale and would meet with Roma. Four days after, Leggo claimed Real had given the green light to the move, with a decisive meeting scheduled for the next day to arrange a loan with an option to buy. Pedulla and Sky confirmed Nacho’s agent would be in Rome that following day to meet with sporting director Walter Sabatini. The sense was that the deal – still with a €12m purchase clause – was close.

That meeting between Nacho’s agent and Roma did happen. In fact, the day after it occurred, the representative publicly said it had gone well and it was over to Real to sanction the deal. And on the 15th, Corriere Dello Sport claimed Madrid had given their OK.

A day later, AS uncovered that Real would remove Nacho shirts from their club store. Meanwhile, Sky spoke of an upcoming decisive meeting with Real Madrid and his agent on the Monday (18th).

Even then-president James Pallotta broke his silence on the deal on 17th July, saying Nacho and fellow defensive arrival Juan Jesus would “help us a lot” thanks to their experience.

That Monday, the crucial meeting that was forecasted took place. According to Sky, it went well. It was claimed by the channel and Corriere Dello Sport that Nacho’s move to Roma would be announced in the next few hours. Pedulla was more conservative in his estimate, pencilling in the arrival for between Wednesday 20th and Thursday 21st. Meanwhile, Gazzetta Dello Sport said he would join the US tour.

On Tuesday 19th, Gazzetta Dello Sport revealed another meeting, indicating Roma were almost close to signing Nacho. However, Real would retain a buyback clause worth €15m, in line with recent reporting of the time. But this is where things started to come unstuck.

On Wednesday 20th, Il Messaggero revealed that Roma wanted to raise the value of the buyback clause, but Real wanted to lower it. Besides, Gianluca Di Marzio relayed that Madrid boss Zinedine Zidane wasn’t approving the deal. The same reporter concluded there were problems emerging by the end of that week, and at the start of the next one, revealed that Real wanted to keep Nacho.

From that point on, alternatives started to be linked with Roma such as Federico Fazio and Thomas Vermaelen. Like the aforementioned Jesus, they would end up joining the club that summer. But not Nacho.

On the last day of July, Michele Criscitello claimed Walter Sabatini would meet Nacho’s agents again the next week. But on the first day of August, Di Marzio confirmed Vermaelen was the new favourite to strengthen Roma’s backline and that Fazio was linked too.

By 4th August, a day after Fazio’s confirmation at the club, Pedulla said Roma were back in contact for Nacho but he too concluded Vermaelen was now the easier signing. And four days later, the Belgian’s loan became official too. There would be no more Nacho links in the summer he was closest to Roma.

But that was far from being the end of the story. In early November, Calciomercato.it claimed Nacho was already unhappy with his playing time in the new season and that Roma could try again for him in January. Vermaelen soon picked up an injury and it prompted AS to claim Roma would ask Real for Nacho’s availability on loan. However, Mundo Deportivo followed things up to confirm Nacho had said no and wanted to stay at Real Madrid.

Nevertheless, that same source said Roma would press for Nacho if they had to sell Rudiger (who was indeed in his last season with the club).


Despite the previous claims Roma could relaunch their Nacho hunt in January, nothing happened in that winter window. In April 2017, Nacho told L’Equipe he had made the right decision to stay and wanted to retire at Real Madrid.

On 27th June, though, Nacho’s name was back in fashion for Roma, according to Teleradiostereo. The era of ‘Torna di moda Nacho’ was underway.

On 3rd July, reporting from Marca and Gazzetta Dello Sport implied Roma were serious about signing Nacho, who would be available for €15m. A day later, Global Deportivo tipped Roma to go above that with a €19m offer and the promise of a starting role.

Calciomercato.it also claimed Nacho was a concrete target for Roma again by 5th July, but admitted a deal would be complicated.

Five days later, spurious Spanish source Don Balon claimed Nacho’s relationship with Zidane had deteriorated and that new Roma sporting director Monchi – himself arriving from La Liga after his work with Sevilla – would welcome him with open arms.

It took until August for further developments – or claims of developments – when, on the 19th, Don Balon claimed Madrid had rejected an offer from Roma for Nacho and his teammate Lucas Vazquez.

Another 10 days after, Premium Sport suggested Monchi would try to finalise a loan deal. It didn’t happen, though.

With the window firmly shut, by October the official line to Radio Marca was once again that Nacho staying in Madrid would be a certainty and that his wish to retire there remained intact.

But wait – on 10th November, Calciomercato.it claimed Roma had some extra budget and would put Nacho back on their list for January. Here we go again.


Despite Roma selling Hector Moreno after just six months, they weren’t really linked with Nacho too much in the January 2018 window. But after it closed, the attention almost immediately turned to a potential summer raid.

On 5th February, Don Balon said Nacho was ready to leave Real Madrid and that – surprise surprise – he was back in fashion with Roma.

It was claimed on the 14th of that month by Calciomercato.it that Roma scouts would be watching him in a Champions League clash with PSG, in which he played as a right-back. Two days later, Corriere Dello Sport claimed Monchi was hopeful of the signing.

Any such ‘hope’ dissipated, as Nacho once again publicised his desire to be a one-club man in an August interview with GQ, a couple of weeks after another friendly appearance against Roma (whose centre-back signing that summer was Ivan Marcano).

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For a third consecutive year, the summer passed with no Nacho transfer. And for a third consecutive year, the autumn months (during which he didn’t play in either Champions League group match against the Giallorossi) included a report of him being on Roma’s shortlist for the upcoming January – this time it was Calciomercato.it doing the honours.


In January 2019, midway through a turbulent season for Roma, El Confidencial claimed the club had made contact for Nacho, as did La Repubblica. However, Paolo Rocchetti was among the reporters who denied the update.

By mid-March, AS claimed Roma once again were thinking of Nacho, who was out of the recently-returned Zidane’s plans after Madrid’s purchase of Eder Militao.

When the summer came around and Roma had a new, post-Monchi (and post-Kostas Manolas) project to build, Teleradiostereo claimed they had initiated contact with Nacho’s agent again on 2nd August, nine days before he would play against Paulo Fonseca’s side in a friendly (for the last time). Finally, Nacho played at the Olimpico!

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There were many links that window with Toby Alderweireld, which never came off either. But on 3rd August, Gazzetta Dello Sport said Nacho was in pole position as the plan B behind the Belgian.

Instead, that summer saw Chris Smalling and Gianluca Mancini sign for Roma (as well as Mert Cetin).


The year 2020 was one with many events people couldn’t have seen coming – except for Roma being linked with Nacho. Everyone saw that one coming.

On 7th February, only shortly after the arrival – but before the breakthrough – of Roger Ibanez, Don Balon were back to claim Nacho wouldn’t renew his contract with Real Madrid and that Roma would be interested in picking him up for free.

By 2nd June, Todofichajes – another dubious source in Spain – claimed Nacho would be an option for Roma for €10m. Real considered him sellable after an injury-hit season and Roma were still unsure if they would get Smalling back after his successful loan spell.

Due to the pandemic, the transfer window ran until October that year, giving news outlets more time than usual to link Nacho with Roma.

Lo and behold, on 16th September, Gazzetta Dello Sport said he had been offered to Roma. Five days later, and after the acquisition of Marash Kumbulla, Calciomercato.it listed him among the alternatives to Smalling, still in limbo.

And then, briefly, it almost all kicked off again.

On 23rd September, Mundo Deportivo said his agents were discussing a transfer to Italy. And on the 27th – because what better birthday gift for Francesco Totti would there be than a Nacho to Roma link – his agent confirmed the Giallorossi’s interest to Calciomercato.

By this point, Nacho was 30 years old, but was still being treated as someone who could be loaned out by Real. Los Blancos were said to be open to that decision on 30th September by Calciomercato.it. It didn’t unfold, though, and Smalling signed permanently for Roma just before the deadline.

In November, Nacho’s agent clarified that he could have gone to Italy if it wasn’t for Dani Carvajal getting injured. Nevertheless, by the end of that month, Nacho told Marca he was happy at Madrid even though offers were coming in for him every summer.


While Nacho wasn’t linked with Roma in January 2021, things soon sprang back to life in view of the summer window. On 6th February, Todofichajes claimed Roma were interested as Real were thinking of putting him up for sale at a €10m valuation.

The following month, Tuttomercatoweb claimed Roma were monitoring the now-veteran defender.

In April, Nacho admitted via a press conference that he would have liked to try another league in his career, but was still dreaming of retiring at Real Madrid.

Something dramatic happened at Roma the following month, though, that briefly made the Nacho links semi-believable again. The appointment of Jose Mourinho as Roma’s head coach caused a revival of rumours about a player he had given a senior debut to at Real Madrid. For example, Diariogol tied Mourinho’s arrival to rumours of a €20m Roma offer for Nacho. But the summer passed with no movement as Nacho extended his contract in Madrid.

By November, Catalan source El Nacional added to the links by claiming Mourinho was hoping to tempt Madrid with a loan-plus-option-to-buy deal, and to tempt Nacho by making him a leader. Meanwhile in Italy, Gazzetta Dello Sport also claimed Mourinho had put Nacho’s name forward, and Calciomercato claimed Tiago Pinto was monitoring him after Real cleared the way for a deal.


After Mourinho’s first season ended with a trophy win, the manager was said to want Nacho as one of the next additions to his developing team by Sport in June 2022. While no summer move materialised, various reports in the autumn claimed Nacho was finally considering his future at his current club.

In November, sources such as Rudy Galetti and AS once again linked him with Roma, but the Spanish version of events was that Nacho wanted to stay in Madrid still.


Regardless, some sources tried their luck again with new Nacho links in January 2023. On the 23rd, Tuttomercatoweb claimed Roma were in contact, but the deal wasn’t easy because of another supposed advanced negotiation for him. Roma instead signed Diego Llorente, a different former product of the Real Madrid academy, by the end of the month.

Ultimately, Nacho saw out the season with Real and became their captain by the end of it.

But before that, on 29th May, Galetti reported that Serie A was an option for Nacho’s next step and that Roma retained their interest from six months (and evidently far longer!) before.

Alas, Roma’s defensive recruit this time around was Evan Ndicka, whereas Nacho signed one last contract to continue with Real into the 2023-24 season. It would be his final season with the club, culminating in another Champions League win.


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This is it. Finally, the year has come for Nacho to leave Real Madrid. But come on. Where are the links with Roma?!

Nacho is instead going to continue his career in Saudi Arabia with Al-Qadsiah, bringing an end not only to his long spell with Madrid but also the rumours he could leave them specifically for Roma.

Links between Nacho and Roma spanned across five different managerial eras, from Garcia to Mourinho. Directors all the way from Sabatini to Pinto were tipped to bring him to Italy. And yet Nacho became one of Madrid’s most distinguished servants.

Since the first sign of him being linked with Roma, Nacho made more than 300 appearances for Madrid and won more than 20 trophies. Now, he’s finally taking on a new challenge. And it’s not with Roma.

Just you wait for the reports that he wants to come back to Europe and Roma are thinking about him. Give it a few months…

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