I’ll be 110% honest: this started as a farewell post the other day when it seemed almost certain that Leandro Castán would be moving on from AS Roma. The press had it all spelled out: Castán would either be transferred, or more likely, reach a contract termination agreement with the club. It was almost seemingly certain that Leo would not be in Rome after August 31st.
Welp, neither of those happened, and here I am looking like a clueless asshole. Anyway, I felt that Leo still deserved a shout out and a post, so here we go!
Castán came to Roma back in the summer of 2012 aka the summer of Zeman, on a 5.5 million Euro deal from Corinthians. Castán quickly found himself as a major piece of the starting eleven, appearing in 30/38 matches for the club that year. His partner in crime in the center of defense? A young eighteen year old who he recommended to Walter Sabatini. A kid by the name of Marquinhos. In many ways, his “referral” of Marcos to the club will forever be a large part of Castán’s legacy. He brought us a gem of a prospect for next to nothing. A prospect who loved the shit enough that he returned after being sold and sat in the Curva Sud. Anyway, back to reality and misery. Both would soon succumb to the great tragedy that is AS Roma.
A New Partner
For Leo, the end of the Zeman/AA era wasn’t the end of the road, but it was for his colleague Marquinhos, who was briskly sent to PSG when a (what was at the time) large bid came in. Roma did not squander this cash, however, and quickly turned it into talents such as Kevin Strootman and Mehdi Benatia, the latter of which would be Leo’s new partner in the center of defense.
In some ways, the departure of Marcos and addition of Benatia was a perfect match made in heaven. The two center backs were the ideal pairing, with each of their strengths seemingly covering the other’s weakness. They were the rock and corner stone of Rudi Garcia’s record breaking first season, however, it seemed like they (Castán specifically) never got the love they truly deserved. Benatia was the flashy new CB who was Roma’s leading scorer even as late as December, machine gun celebrations and all. Of course, this quickly pushed him into celebrity status, leaving Castán as the seemingly forgotten man*.
*To the point that when he scored his first goal for Roma, it wasn’t even credited to him until after the match. I was at the Olimpico that night as Roma beat Fiorentina 4-2 (that INCREDIBLE performance from Totti), with everyone from the stadium announcer to Zampa giving Panagiotis Tachtisdis credit for Castán’s goal. Poor guy...
And It All Falls Down....
Castán and Benatia would lead Roma to an incredible second place finish in 2013/14, but unfortunately, their partnership and time at Roma would both come to an end under very different circumstances. For Mehdi, we all know the saga of the he said she said and Pallotta and contracts and Bayern and yadda yadda yadda....
For Leo, it wasn’t a transfer saga that engulfed our attention in the summer of 2014. It was instead fuzzy news reports and updates from AS Roma about Castán having an injury. This wasn’t your normal muscle strain or ankle sprain; Leo had developed a rare brain issue where a cavernoma was found. Castán underwent surgery, only appearing twice for Roma across all competitions in 2014/15. A season of more recovery and skepticism left Leo as a bit part in 2015/16, where he only made five appearances.
Once fully recovered, it became apparent to Roma management that Castán unfortunately didn't appear to be the CB he once was. Transfer rumors swirled, with Leo finally securing a loan move to Torino. Many here at CdT were excited about the move; with Nikola Maksimovic off to Napoli, this was the perfect chance for Castán to win a starting spot and return to full strength. The reality? Leo only managed 15 apps for il Toro, seemingly unable to regain the form he once had.
And now here we are at present day, where Leo seems to be in a limbo of sorts. No transfer agreed upon, no contract termination agreement. It seems that despite being in the squad, Castán’s role this season will be that of Bogdan Lobont: the long-tenured player who’s a great guy and rides the bench with a smile. And in many ways, that sums up Leandro Castán so well. A guy who thanked Roma countless times in public for supporting him throughout his medical situation and recovery. A guy who’s always been a class act.
After a few beers while typing this article on a flight, I remembered one of the most beautiful pieces ever posted on CdT in it’s entire history. No, it was not from Chris, but the equally as elegant masonio after a night of drinking way back in December of 2013 (on my birthday none the less!). This Ode to Leo just sums up Leandro Castan better than any article or post ever could. Heck, it even has me wondering why I just wrote all of this and didn’t just post the Ode to Leo on it’s own. Either way, enjoy it, for he will always be thy forgotten man, for he is, Leandro Castan.
Grazie per tutto, Leo.