Very few men can take a penalty as calm and cool as Diego Almeira Perotti. The slow build-up, the short hesitation as it seems he doubts in which direction he’ll kick, and then... Boom! Slotted home with ease, as if he ever doubted himself. Is it part genius, part crazy? Whatever your opinion may be, it takes a lot of guts, balls and of course a huge pile of technical ability to do the things Perotti does.
We all know Diego’s one of the most talented, perhaps even the most talented, players on Roma’s roster, but why exactly? Maybe because his name ends with the same four characters as a certain Roma legend? His numbers are not so spectacular though. Roma and Sevilla are the biggest teams on his resume, he has only four caps with Argentina and hasn’t won anything notable in his career. For now (well, let’s hope for Roma’s sake).
Okay, so he won the Europa League in 2014 with Sevilla but he was hardly an integral part of that squad. For instance: Gilberto Martinez, Virga, Pit and Wilhelmsson all won a Coppa Italia but they remain shite, period. Perotti however, has something special. He’s skilled, can dribble, has a good shot and most of all, he’s unpredictable. I love it. When he’s on fire, he can tear down any defense in Italy and most defenses in Europe. His attributes seem tailored for an attacking midfielder/trequartista but at Roma he has been playing on the wing for most of the time.
He seems a lovably guy, although he has a poor choice in tattoos. He’s popular in Rome and coaches clearly like his skill set. Spalletti was a fan, under Di Franesco Perotti has played in 11 of 13 Serie A games so far. Only thing is his stats. They, errr, look kinda disappointing. He only scored 14 goals in nearly 60 games in Italy. In this season’s CL he has one goal in 5 games. Hardly a Messi, Ronaldo or Cavani.
Let’s be clear about that: Perotti’s in no way in the same category as those players I mentioned earlier, I doubt he even gets to start in the current Napoli or Juventus sides. But when he joined Roma in January 2016, it was a match made in heaven. Diego scored six days after he signed for Roma and was brought outright from Genoa later on. Perotti costed only 10m, peanuts compared to Defrel or Schick.
He enjoyed his best season ever at Roma: in 2016-2017 he scored 8 goals in 32 Serie A games and a further 2 goals in the Europa League. This season he aims to beat his record as he already has 3 goals in Serie A, including two penalties. But that’s what stings among most tifosi. For all the skills, dribbles and little fantasies on the pitch, his production is a bit of a letdown. Take away those penalties (which are 90% sure goals anyway and can also be taken by Daniele or Dzeko for example), and his stats look far less impressive.
Mind the word ‘look’ though. Because if you haven’t seen him play live, you get a biased view of Perotti. Dzeko might be the top scorer while Schick is the prodigy and Salah was a star due to his speed, Diego makes it all click up front. When a game is locked and buried, people mostly look at him to perform some magic or dance his way through defenses. His goal against Chelsea is perhaps the climax of his powers. A great run past defenders, moving into space and unleashing a precise shot at goal. Diego at his best.
That’s why he’s so adored in here. No, he won’t win any Golden Boots in the future, no he won’t score 30 goals in a season. But boy, when he does score, it creates magic in the air. It all looks so cool and that’s ultimately what football is about, no? Having fun on the field and let the people have a good time and enjoy. Rarely injured, rarely complaining, I bet Roma doesn’t regret a single penny of those 10 million they paid for his services. Because Perotti is unique.
At the age of 29 he won’t improve much, his best days are happening as we speak so we should enjoy every moment with Diego. I know I will. He may not be a Messi, Ronaldo or Neymar, but he doesn’t need to.
He’s Perotti and he’s ours. And that feels so good to say.