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Prickly Karsdorp

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Roma’s favorite walking painting is quickly losing its value

Netherlands v France - FIFA 2018 World Cup Qualifier Photo by Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images

After a rough start, the sun is finally shining again in Rome. The grand return of the 4-2-3-1, four consecutive wins across all competitions… Life’s good. Life’s great! In fact, a lot of people in Rome are currently walking around with a huge smile on their face that looks like it was personally put up there by the legendary Joker Heat Ledger himself. Everyone, from the players to the fans, is happy.

Pallotta and Monchi can smile again. Various new guys are doing great while Ünder is being linked to Bayern for € 60m (hellooooo, ka-tsjing!). EDF is happy because the overall quality of play has taken a huge step forward since the Torino, Atalanta or Bologna days. Rumors about a possible sack are now dead and burried, at least for now. However, they could return from the grave like a couple of nasty Deadites from Ash vs Evil Dead. But now? I’d say Eusebio’s job is pretty safe and sound.

Dzeko is scoring goals left and right again, local boy Lorenzo Pellegrini was MOTM in a Roman derby not so long ago, Kluivert got his first goal in a Roma jersey, Santon looks reborn, Kolarov is a machine, Nzonzi and Olsen are showing their worth. Luca Pellegrini got his first start… Must I go on? Hell, even the bench players look happy. Mirante is clearly satisfied in being Olsen’s deputy, Jesus doesn’t make a fuzz about being on the bench, Fuzato enjoys life in Rome with his girlfriend, Schick knows his day will come and time is on his side. Others like Florenzi, SES, Cristante, Perotti just join the party. Yup, all happy faces.

Except one…

During recent celebrations I rarely saw Rick Karsdorp in the mix. Sometimes he was even watching in the stands, due to a dispute between Rick and Eusebio in training. Apparently EDF wants Karsdorp to work harder and show his true value. Let him feel that he simply can’t walk into the first team only because of his name and fame.

Right now Karsdorp is probably the most expensive third-choice RB in Italy, maybe Europe. Florenzi was the obvious starter last season and the current one, but Santon is quickly turning into a fan favorite after his performances against Lazio and Empoli. Yes, that same Davide Santon who was deemed redundant last Summer, who was just a sweetener to wrap up the Nainggolan deal. Ouch for poor Rick.

One start, one sub. That’s it for 2018-2019. Two CL games not called up. In Serie A Karsdorp has only featured in a total of three games since he joined Roma. Ok, there was his unfortunate injury, but he was more or less healthy since pre-season and if he indeed was the Dutch Cafu (or Dutch Candela if you’d like), then he would have owned that RB slot by now. Admittedly, Florenzi and Santon are good, but they’re not world beaters like Dani Alves, Lahm or Ramos.

A player like Karsdorp is a special case. A nutcase. He’s like the Cassano of rightbacks. A player with a 200 pages manual. Talent-wise, he’s better than Florenzi or Santon. Why, he could even be Italy’s best rightback if he wants too. But like I said, a special case. Talent is not enough and it seems EDF is fed up with his attitude, work ethic and effort. A loan or even sale in January is not impossible so we better not get attached too much to his tattoos (how beautiful they may be… cough cough).

And that, my dear readers, is a damn shame. Not only because of his price tag, but because Karsdorp truly is a good footballer and he can offer so much more to this team. A marauding rightback, athletic, fast, tireless, good cross, fierce and passionate… He was all those things back in the Netherlands and while Serie A is a big step up, it is certainly doable for a man with his amount of talent.

Now Roma will probably try to salvage what’s left of his 15-20m fee and shop him around like a drunk PIMP in Bangkok’s hottest red light district on a Saturday night. Perhaps the Premier League or Bundesliga suits him better. Or a return to Feyenoord for emotional reasons. And boy, does he look like an emotional dude. An emotional dude with an almost 20m price tag, yikes.

Whatever happens, I doubt Roma will cash in the same amount for Rick. Who wants to bet on a guy with only a handful of competitive games in the space of 14 months and who lost his place to Santon 2018 Version?

For me Karsdorp won’t end in the same category as Torosidis, Peres, Motta, Rosi or Piris. For me he has more talent than all those guys combined. Yet, all those guys played way more games for Roma than Rick. Incomprehensible I know, but that’s just how Roma works. And Rick himself shares a part of the blame.

If he’s gone this Winter, then it wasn’t only a waste of money but also a waste of his talent. I don’t know which one is more painful.