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Totti Today #32: The Daniele Disturbance

One of Roma’s most controversial players this season has undoubtedly been Daniele De Rossi. MLS, injury, personal problems, average performances,… We’ve all been acquainted with a less than stellar De Rossi for a while now. 2006 or 2008 seem a long time ago. Evil voices even say Il capitano futuro has no futuro anymore in Rome. Is an exit bound to happen?

Dino Panato/Getty Images

First, let me start by saying Il capitano futuro is a bad nickname anno 2015. Daniele’s 31, 32 in Summer. Far from a future star. Even worse, one might think his best days are behind him, the biggest part of his career has already gone by. Sure he won a World Cup and two Coppe Italia, but it all went by so fast. It was fun while it lasted , yet it could have been so much more for both parties (Roma and De Rossi). Some even say his bad periods outweigh his best periods in the giallo e rosso. Food for thought, although I don’t exactly have the time to rewatch and analyse all of Dani’s 354 Serie A games and make an elaborate and detailled rapport of 672 pages, that’s stuff for Bren right there.

We do can take a look at some stellar seasons of Daniele, seasons where he really shone at Roma and when he was once hailed as one of the best DM’s in the world. Back in the day, teams like Real and Manchester United were chasing him, big fat contracts were happily handed out to keep him in Rome. Now, De Rossi’s current one (6.5 million per season) is one of the main reasons of criticism, along with his drop in form. He’s Serie A’s top earner, Higuain from Napoli (5.5m) is second. For example: Tevez earns 4.5m and is Juve’s top earner. The biggest contracts in Milan (4m) and Inter (3.2m) are miles away from Daniele’s. Klose at Lazio ‘only’ earns 2m per season. This is stuff that Daniele haters (if there are any) love to throw into discussions: his wages simply don’t stroke with his on-field performances, there’s a disturbance in the costs-benefits rule.

Right, which seasons did Daniele really shone then? 2009-2010, ah the famous ‘Ranieri comeback season’, where Roma narrowly lost the Scudetto to Mourinho’s Inter. De Rossi’s stats: 7 goals in 33 games. Not bad for a defensive midfielder, not bad at all. The season before the WC 2006 in Germany was a splendid one as well: 34 games, 6 goals. And to top it off: winning the FIFA World Cup with Italy, playing the final against France (he was subbed on in the 61’ minute). Small demerit: his red card for an ugly elbow foul in the group match against the US. McBride, his victim, left the field covered in blood. Too bad it happened in such a popular tourney, this will probably haunt him for the rest of his days. It reminds me of the Totti-Poulsen spit incident in Euro 2004. Wrong place, wrong time.

Another example: 2007-2008. Roma ended second, 3 points behind Mancini’s Inter. Dani’s stats: 34 games, 5 goals. Numbers that are not likely to return anytime soon for our beloved lumberjack. He has scored only two goals in the past 3 seasons while he currenly has 16 appearances in Serie A, out of a possible 27 (Sampdoria already included). He won’t reach the mark of 30 appearances this season, that’s for sure. Over time, Daniele also changed his look, going for the confused lumberjack look, heavy beard included. Problems with his wife didn’t help his cause either. A man can only take so much. The latest blot on his career was a crucial mistake against Fiorentina in the Europa League, a mistake which resulted in 1-0.

Just to point out the downfall of De Rossi: the respected site currently rates De Rossi’s market value at € 14m. His highest score was € 38m in 2010. Enough about millions though, now comes the billion dollar question: what does the future hold for capitano futuro? Are the MLS rumors true? Could Daniele really opt for an escape out of Rome and to America? Isn’t his Roman heart too proud for that? And how will it affect his place on the Azzurri squad?

Most people seem to forget last year was really a liberation for De Rossi. The introduction of Rudi Garcia, the chemistry with Strootman and Pjanic, the wall Benatia-Castan behind him… All pieces were present to bring Dani back to where he belongs: in the top five of DM in the world. A grand return to the Champions League would surely emphasise that statement. My oh my, how things have changed. To say this season has been kind of a letdown, is an understatement. There are external reasons (injuries to Castan and Strootman, dubious refereeing) and internal (Rudi’s stubbornness, fatigue, pressure, mentality).

Daniele’s not the only one to blame. He does however have to life with the image of Totti’s heir, the vice-captain. Only the ‘lieutenant’ of king Totti. A kid aged 31 years. Maybe he’s fed up with all the pressure on his shoulders, tired of being the ‘chosen one’ after Totti. Maybe he needs to go back to the basics of football, the ABC. Forget all the controversy, refind the joy of the good old days. With a little help from his fans of course and especially the players surrounding him.

You see, guys like Daniele De Rossi are a rare breed. They don’t come around often. Florenzi’s no Daniele. Even Francesco isn’t. No one cheers after a Roma goal like Daniele does, no one is as disappointed when Roma loses as Daniele. For every Daniele doubter, there’s a die-hard fan. The huge void that Benatia and Strootman left is too heavy for Daniele to fill. He needs help. He deserves it for all that he has done for his city.

That’s why I think he’ll never leave Rome willingly, unless they tie him up and drag him out of Trigoria with fifteen muscled men. He still has unfinished business and is out to prove those doubters wrong.

Go get ‘em Dani.