CHELSEA star Hakim Ziyech was keen on a move to Rome before sealing his switch at Stamford Bridge last summer, we have learned.
His Moroccan team-mate Medhi Benatia has claimed the striker ‘would have run’ to the Italian capital when a move was discussed in 2019.
Back then, Ziyech was on the back of a stunning run to the Champions League semi-finals with an Ajax side poached by Europe’s biggest clubs.
He ended up staying in Amsterdam for another 12 months before £36.5m move to Chelsea.
The 28-year-old star has made 62 appearances since signing for the west London side, finding all 11 times.
Although things could have turned out very differently had then-Roma president James Pallotta agreed to shell out for the playmaker, according to Benatia.
The former Roma defender, now with Al-Duhail, told La Gazzetta dello Sport: “I had tried to bring him to Roma, and he would have run to join this club.
“I spoke to Francesco Totti and Edin Dzeko, telling them that this is the man they want.
“As a director, Francesco did everything he could to get the deal done, but Pallotta said it would be ‘overspending’ and nothing ever came of it.”
Club legend Totti reportedly left the Stadio Olimpico later that same summer, citing a lack of influence over transfers.
He complained as he left: “They knew about my desire to offer a lot to this team but they never wanted to.
“They kept me away from everything. It’s a day I hoped would never come.”
Unpopular owner Pallotta finally sold fellow American Dan Friedkin last year after nearly a decade in charge of Roma.