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In Appreciation of Emerson Palmieri

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Roma’s leftback spot will be left wanting for a few months.

AS Roma v SS Lazio - Serie A Photo by Marco Rosi/Getty Images

The following post was written because of two reasons in particular: the first one being that the season is over and besides transfer rumors and Di Francesco’s arrival, there’s not a lot to talk about around here. The second one is a bit different, but not less important: it has to be written.

See, here in Chiesa we tend to be quite the reactionary folk: this club only needs to have three straight victories to call ourselves title challengers and only needs a defeat to be called the worst team ever and titled all these players as failures, jokes, etc. If you are a Roma supporter, you know the drill at this point. But I think there are moments where we have to look at the forest instead of the trees, and that’s what I’ll do here regarding probably Roma’s most surprising player (in a good way) of the season: Emerson Palmieri.

The Brazilian was one of Sabatini’s transfers with least expectations: an unknown left-back that came from an underwhelming Palermo side and while he had some decent performances in the 2015-16 season, most Roma supporters could take him or leave him. Probably one of the most “meh” players at Trigoria in recent times until that point.

Then came the Porto fiasco at the start of this last season, where Palmieri had one hell of a shocker (still not as big as, say, a certain Thomas Vermaelen) and victim of the negative side of our fanbase, myself included. Emerson was labelled as a liability, as a poor player and was put in the same level as Juan Jesus, which could be considered one of the ultimate insults. If one of us was Spalletti at the time, the Brazilian would probably be playing his trade at some lower Serie A team or even in China after that match. But he wasn’t sold and we get to see a massive improvement on Emerson, becoming the best left-back the club had in a long time.

Emerson’s improvement was not only on the defensive aspect of his game, but also in the offensive one, just like any self-respected Brazilian full-back. The kid can run, can pass, can dribble, can defend and can even be a creative force within the squad, quickly becoming one of Luciano’s first names on the team sheet and with good reason. I think only Radja Nainggolan and Edin Dzeko can claim to have a superior season this year. But Radja is one of the team’s best players and everybody knew from the start and despite Dzeko’s torrid 2015-16 season, he was still a highly regarded striker and one with lots of experience, so you can expect a great year from them. In a time where Mario Rui came to Roma as our future left-back, Emerson made the position his own with everything going on against him after the Porto fiasco (I’ll admit Rui’s injury was paramount for that outcome, but it was still a great achievement, don’t you think?).

So, in the end, being this Roma, of course Emerson broke his ACL in the last match in the season, in a time when he was being considered to play for Italy’s national team and yours truly actually thinks he had a chance for Brazil’s, as well. That would force him to stay at Roma for another year, but not in the way most of us wanted. Anyway, we can only wish young Palmieri to have a great recovery and to come back stronger next season because he has truly become an important part of this club’s future, in this writer’s opinion.

What do you make of Emerson’s season? Any analysis, opinions or even memories of this season of the young Brazilian?