Ah, Summer. A time for sunshine, transfer rumors, and waiting. Summer football is not exactly awe inspiring. Confederations Cup, Gold Cup, friendlies, and the MLS don’t offer anything near the same excitement as Serie A. So we wait. Some of us get caught up in the hullabaloo of transfer speculation and gossip; others retreat to the dark lairs of reality. And while this summer has been busy for Roma management, there has been one story lingering on the edges of the team’s future: The Return of Alessandro Florenzi.
Fate hasn’t been kind to our dear friend, Flo. Consecutive ACL tears have sidelined the Roman since October. Perhaps too hasty in returning after his first ligament injury, Alessandro will likely be cautious. The medical staff must insure his knee can sustain the energy that the young Italian produces. Moreover, a healthy return for Roma’s utility man is paramount for EDF, as Flo has shown he can be a danger from multiple positions.
With a mercato that has seen an array of depth additions for the Giallorossi, the question remains: what role will Florenzi have in EDF’s 4-3-3? Naturally, after the addition of Rick Karsdorp, and a hopeful return to form for Bruno Peres, one would assume that the right-back slot is filled. Yet, at this point it is really anyone’s guess where the Italian will be deployed. Midfielder, winger, right-back, or even left-back...where will EDF utilize Roma’s most versatile player?
As a Midfielder
After a successful loan spell at Crotone, Florenzi returned to a Roma managed by none other than Zdeněk Zeman. In Zemanlandia, the Roman was used as a box-to-box midfielder, filling holes in the attack with his blistering pace. The goal in the video above shows what Flo is capable of in the middle of the park. His vision off the ball is quite good, and he could complement Strootman and DDR’s slower, tactical play. However, with a midfield stacked with the likes of the aforementioned, Ninja, and Pelligrini, Flo could have a hard time finding a starting spot.
As a Winger
In the 2011-12 season, Alessandro Florenzi scored 11 goals as a winger for Crotone. However, as mentioned above, Flo’s time employed as an RW was short-lived as a Wolf. In the handful of matches Flo played RW in Rudi Garcia’s 4-3-3, he showed glimpses of being a formidable winger. The 2015 outing with Cagliari exemplifies what Alessandro can offer as an attacker. With Roma falling short for Mahrez, and with Defrel not being a definite winger, EDF should highly consider reuniting Flo with his former position. It’s possible that a SES-Dzeko-Flo combo could be very tasty.
As a Right-Back
Injuries to Maicon and Torosidis during the 2014 campaign led to Rudi Garcia deploying Florenzi as a right-back. After a series of strong performances the RB slot became Alessandro’s. An engine-like tenacity and an eye for the attack, Flo’s attributes suited his newfound position. Not only could he keep up with any winger; he could also beat most left-backs. How the goal above didn’t win the 2015 Puskas Award is beyond me. Everything about it, from the run to the release, is truly magical. Although this snippet doesn’t highlight Flo’s defensive ability, it surely shows his capability. If Peres can return from the Land of Nimh, and if Karsdop can make a sudden impact, then Florenzi could be used elsewhere; however, Peres’s inconsistent play makes right-back Flo’s likely destination.
As a Left-Back
Recent reports have indicated that Flo recently played a practice match in the left-back position. This is puzzling since we have a gaggle of LBs at the moment. One could speculate that he was testing his knee’s durability, cutting inside to use his natural right, but other than that, who knows. If anything, this just goes to show the versatility of the young Italian. The chances of him returning as a left-back are very low.
There are a couple scenarios to consider. If Roma are unable to land a true right-winger, I wouldn’t be shocked to see Florenzi deployed there once fully fit. Yes, EDF wants a left-footed winger who can cut in, yet he may find that a right-footed winger who can shoot, run, and pass is just as good. In truth, it is probably unlikely. Although Flo as a midfielder makes sense, I find this even more improbable. Florenzi could be a nice sub for Nainggolan, but it won’t happen. Nope. It seems that Florenzi will be forever doomed to Rudi Garcia’s depth woe. Maybe, for sanity’s sake, EDF will consider Peres as an RW and move Flo back to RB. Who knows. The only certainty is that a healthy Flo gives EDF a plethora of options. It will be nice to have our Utility Man back.