Thirty two men suited up for Associazione Sportiva Roma this season, ranging from 17-year-old Marco Tumminello to the estimable 39-year-old Francesco Totti. While this season was replete with ups and downs, comebacks and breakouts, several players stood out from the pack. In part two of our season recap, the CdT crew gave us their thoughts, now it's your turn; who was Roma's player of the year?
To facilitate this discussion, we'll separate the candidates into a few subgroups. There won't be any super delegates, no super PACs and no contested conventions; just pure unadulterated democracy; the kind that has never nor will ever exist.
Sound good? Okay, here we go.
These men didn't make a ton of appearances, so this is largely a ceremonial inclusion, but their collective impact on the pitch was palpable and, in some instances, offers hope for next season.
Maicon (19 appearances, 1 goal, 2 assists, 83% passing): Big Dougie did just enough this season to remind us of how instrumental he was to Roma's success in the previous two seasons.
Seydou Keita (20 appearances, 1 goal, 86% passing): Steady, reliable, dull as paint drying. Keita has always been as advertised and, like it or not, played a crucial role for Roma during his tenure here.
Edin Dzeko (39 appearances, 10 goals, 7 assists): No, this isn't a joke. Dzeko had a couple fleeting moments of brilliance, where he looked like the physical force Roma had so desperately craved for the top of their attack, but yeah, you know...
Wojciech Szczesny: (43 appearances, 8 cleansheets, 1 goal conceded/match): Some incomprehensibly dumb decisions balanced out by some brilliant saves. I'm not a Woj fan, but he's not as bad as I made him out to be on social media.
The Late Bloomers
These players, though they were major contributors, didn't really make their mark until the latter third of the season, but they certainly give us all hope of brighter days ahead.
Stephan El Shaarawy
Stats: 18 appearances, 8 goals, 1 assist
Recap: We've gushed over SES enough lately, but you know the story; in a matter of weeks, El Shaarawy completely resurrected his career, re-establishing himself (at all of 23-years-old) as one of the league's most dangerous attacking talents. Quick, intelligent and agile as the day is long, El Shaarawy is primed for big things.
Stats: 37 appearances, 2 goals, 1.5 INTs & 1.5 tackles per game
Recap: The young German teamed up with Kostas Manolas to give Roma unrivaled athleticism on the backline. Rüdiger is tall, strong and fast and as the season wore on it was easy to see; his understanding of the game is rapidly approaching his considerable physical skills
Stats: 17 appearances, 3 goals, 7 assists
Recap: Perotti is the very definition of a late bloomer. After dealing with the bust tag for several seasons, Perotti truly found himself in Spalletti's Roma, proving an indispensable cog in Roma's machine. Perotti's ability to stretch and confuse a defense gave Spalletti the closest thing possible to vintage false nine Totti. With a full season under his belt, it's not inconceivable to think that Perotti could approach the 10 goal, 10 assist mark.
The Also Rans
These guys are painfully close to being legitimate contenders but, for lack of consistency, they ultimately fall short.
Daniele De Rossi
Stats: 31 appearances, 3 goals, 2 assists, 87% passing
Recap: What can we say? From the hard tackles to the guttural screams to the incisive long passes, DDR was a slightly slowed down version of the man we've grown to know and love over the past 15 years. He may not be what he once was, but he's still so damn good.
Stats: 42 appearances, 3 goals, 5 assists
Recap: I love him, plain and simple. He's not the best left back in the league yet, but give him a few years under Luciano Spalletti and he may be. Digne averaged nearly two interceptions and two tackles per match, played the fourth most crosses on the team and won 64% of his aerial duels this season. The foundation is there, all this kid needs is some seasoning and he'll be the total package
Stats: 42 appearances, 8 goals, 3 assists
Recap: With Totti and De Rossi heading towards the twilight of their illustrious careers, one can make an argument that Florenzi is already the face of the franchise. And with 42 chest thumping appearances under his belt, during which he featured at SIX DIFFERENT POSITIONS, Florenzi's esteem with the fans has grown immeasurably. His lack of a position may ultimately harm his development, but there's no denying it: this kid is a big game player; he shows up when Roma needs him most.
The Top Contenders
Okay, here they are the cream of the crop, the men who really propelled Roma all season long. Whether it was under Rudi Garcia or Luciano Spalletti, these were the guys; the ones without whom Roma would have been in dire straits.
Stats: 15 appearances, 5 goals, 3 assists
Recap: I can't believe I actually have to type this, but here goes: at 39-years-old and maligned by both managers this season, Totti's emergence in the spring quite literally saved Roma. Were it not for Totti's inspired and match saving play down the stretch, Roma wouldn't have been within sniffing distance of third place, let alone having a shot at second on the final day. Ever the professional, Totti has once again adapted to a new role, this time as an unparalleled supersub; one who can turn the tide of a match and even a season in a matter of 20 minutes.
Stats: 42 appearances, 6 goals, 2 assists, multiple neck tattoos
Recap: Back in the summer I pegged Nainggolan as my breakout candidate, and he repaid my faith in him tenfold, to the point where he's drawing the eyes of the world's largest clubs. Radja was always primed for a solid season, but his star really took off once Spalletti came to town and transformed him into an attacking threat, scoring six goals in eighteen appearances under Spalletti. This added threat has, quite simply, made Nainggolan one of the best midfielders in the game—running, passing, tackling, scoring; he's got it all.
Stats: 45 appearances, 2 goals, 3 assists, 2.4 tackles & 2.9 INTs per match
Recap: While Greece Lightning always had athleticism for days, he added a new layer of refinement to his game in 2015-2016. Manolas won an astounding 76% of his headers and 56% of his tackles while completing 87% of his passes. Manolas will probably always be a thorn in the referee's side, but this season he reached the point where the positives dramatically outweigh the negatives. Manolas is a rock and at only 24-years-old, the best is yet to come.
Stats: 42 appearances, 15 goals, 6 assists
Recap: Salah, the center of perhaps the oddest and most frustrating transfer saga in club history, paid huge dividends this season, providing Roma's flank with a quick, incisive and efficient threat on the wings. Salah led the club in goals, nearly double the next closest forward, and was third in assists. What more do we need to say? He's our most potent threat.
Stats: 41 appearances, 12 goals, 13 assists
Recap: Pjanic took a GIGANTIC step forward this season, doubling last season's goal haul and cracking double digits in assists for the third time in his career. Even more impressive, Pjanic did the double for the first time in his career and was one of only 12 men to scale that mountain this season. His touch, vision and creativity have made him one of the top 20 players in the world. Think about that for a moment.