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What’s Going on With Gerson?

Sticking with the Viola, a return to Roma or something else entirely?

ACF Fiorentina v SPAL - Serie A Photo by Gabriele Maltinti/Getty Images

AS Roma can forge on for centuries, outwitting and outlasting human civilization itself, and I’m not sure we’d see another career quite like Gerson in giallo e rosso. In hindsight it was really no big deal, but if we hearken back to the winter of 2015, Roma capturing Gerson from Fluminense was worthy of the endless praise heaped upon Walter Sabatini and the rest of the Roma brass. After all, it’s not everyday that Roma goes toe to toe with mega-clubs on the transfer market and comes out on top, let alone for one of the most prized prospects on the market.

In the then 17-year-old Gerson, Roma had somehow wrested the next big thing from the clutches of Barcelona, so the excitement with which the signing was greeted, by fans and the club alike, was quite unique in the Romasphere—remember that horrendous photo of Gerson holding up the number ten shirt?

Adding further fuel to the speculation fire was the gap between Gerson’s transfer and his arrival in Rome. After signing with Roma in January of 2015, or at least agreeing to, it would take over a year for Gerson to not only come across the Atlantic but to make his full Roma debut. That delay, and the subsequent anticipation, only served to increase the hype. Was he Pogba? Gerrard? Something else entirely? No one really quite knew, but that was half the fun—he could have just as easily exceeded those expectations as met them.

While he was granted a spot appearance in the Champions League qualifying disaster against Porto in August of 2016, Gerson would remain very much on the outside looking in through his first season in Rome. After making a few spot appearances in that fall’s Europa League, Gerson would make his Serie A debut in October against Napoli but would garner only three futher appearances that season, including that completely random match against Juventus where he started at wing—what the hell was Spalletti thinking?

Being just a teenager, not to mention buried behind the likes of Daniele De Rossi, Radja Nainggolan, and Kevin Strootman in the midfield, Gerson was always bound to be a bit player during his debut season, but his sophomore campaign yielded 31 appearances in all competitions, including a brace against Fiorentina in November of 2017.

Things were looking good for Gerson, but with De Rossi still holding strong and Lorenzo Pellegrini emerging, Roma’s midfield remained quite crowded heading into the following season, and with Monchi unable to find a suitable loan for the young Brazilian, he seemed destined to flounder on the bench this season, having turned down loan moves in Italy and abroad.

So, when Roma managed to loan Gerson to Fiorentina, only to see him go AWOL almost immediately, it looked like Gerson’s budding career had taken another strange turn. Fortunately, cooler heads prevailed and Gerson reported to Florence, seemingly primed to make a name for himself in Italy.

Playing mostly as a central midfielder, Gerson has had a solid season for the Viola, logging 1,000 minutes already, scoring one goal and providing one assist in league play; nothing earth-shattering, but a sign of progress for a kid his age who, for all intents and purposes, really only played half a season of football in Europe.

So, everything is cool, right?

Well, thanks to our partners at Viola Nation, we learned that Fiorentina may be considering returning Gerson to sender six months earlier than they originally planned. While not necessarily borne of shortcomings on the pitch, the Viola may be looking to save a few bucks in salary, but either way, Gerson's career looks to deviate from the norm once more.

There is also the notion that, due to his (or his father/agent’s) desire to return to Brazil, Roma and Fiorentina are working in concert to send Gerson to Brazilian side Flamengo. The problem, as one might imagine, is the matter of the €16 million Roma paid for Gerson a few years ago—a fee not so easily met by Flamengo, who may look to offset that cost by including another teenage Brazilian, forward Lincoln.

If this rumor proves true—his dadagent confirms that talks with Flamengo are underway—it would prove to be one of the more convoluted transactions in recent memory, at least since the days of co-ownerships. Gerson may never be the next Paul Pogba, or even a Pogba-lite, but he's shown enough promise this year to at least make you think he can be a consistent starter in Serie A, so it's not as if he's yesterday's jam.

While his dadagent insists his son-client is happy in Fiorentina, the Viola’s desire to save nearly €1 million in salary and Roma's desire to move on from a somewhat sunken cost (I say that simply because he'd still be buried deep behind DDR, Cristante, Pellegrini, Zaniolo and possibly even Coric in the midfield) might push this rumor into the realm of reality in a matter or weeks.

Gerson still has oodles of potential, so it would be a shame to see him cash it in and head back to Brazil, but if that's truly what he wants, more power to him, but he'd be yet another example of Roma whiffing on a young prospect, which is something the cash-strapped club can ill-afford in the face of a potentially Champions League-less future.

So, to Gerson's dad we say simply...sort it out, pops.