When Daniele De Rossi was unceremoniously exiled from the only club he’d ever known, someone had to take on the captain’s armband. That man was always going to be Alessandro Florenzi, next in line in the tradition of Roman captains; following in the footsteps of De Rossi and Francesco Totti. Florenzi may not have the undeniable talent or star power of his predecessors, but one thing has always been certain: the diminutive Italian has always been willing to give it all for the colors.
Thus, we ended the season with Florenzi named the new captain. It was expected he would do his best to pick up the reins of the runaway train left behind by De Rossi. However, that scenario doesn’t look quite as cut and dry as it did a little over a week ago. Recently, question marks began popping up regarding Florenzi’s future.
Those question marks began forming immediately after Totti’s farewell press conference. Whether or not he intended to do it, Totti planted some seeds of doubt about Florenzi’s ability to lead when he responded to a question about the two Romans currently in the side: Florenzi and Lorenzo Pellegrini.
When asked if he’d heard from them, Totti responded that he hadn’t heard from Florenzi, but spoke highly of Pellegrini with the following (translated by Football Italia):
“I promised many things to Lorenzo Pellegrini and I hope they come true, because he is a special lad, on the field and off. He’s clean-cut, can give so much to this club and this jersey, as he will honour it to the end as a Roma fan.
“At the end of the day, you need a Romanista in there. Because at times, when you see the final whistle and there are smiling faces, it p***es you off.
“When you see directors who are happy to lose… It happens, but I will never name names. If we are all united, then we can achieve something.”
With those words, many publications, including Gazzetta dello Sport, felt that Florenzi’s captaincy was already weakened. The jibe about smiling faces thought to be a reference to Florenzi being just a bit too lighthearted after the 3-0 loss to Lazio when chatting it up with Lucas Leiva post match.
Unlike Totti and De Rossi, who are almost universally revered by Romanisti the world over, Florenzi has often been a lighting rod in his career. As mentioned earlier, Florenzi is no world beater, often relying on hustle and grinta to make up for a lack of size while also being employed out of position. Something that makes him an easier target for fan frustration.
The victim of multiple ACL tears, Florenzi has sacrificed time and again for his hometown club; going so far as to changing positions to help fill a roster void, something he’s had to do full time by converting to a right fullback rather than playing in a more natural attacking role. You’d think Florenzi would be applauded for making that sacrifice. Instead he’s oft-criticized for his deficiencies as a defender.
Last summer, Florenzi was lambasted for his wage demands when he was up for a contract renewal; one that he ultimately signed. Now, this summer it sounds like a faction of fans would like to see the captain’s armband usurped by Pellegrini. For whatever reason, controversy seems to follow Florenzi. With these latest issues, whether real or imagined by the media, are we finally at a breaking point?
If reports are to be believed, we just might be. On Sunday, Calcio Mercato reported (via TuttoSport) that Florenzi had been identified as one of the players Antonio Conte would like to bring into his new look Inter. Then just hours later CM followed up with a report that Florenzi indeed wants a move to the Nerazzurri. The report claims that the 28-year-old Italian would like to follow his teammate Edin Dzeko to northern Italy. Roma have slapped a €30 million price tag on its captain.
Often times, these reports turn out to be nothing but pure fiction. However, one wonders with all the controversy currently surrounding Florenzi and Roma if there isn’t at least a small grain of truth to these rumors. The idea of Florenzi leaving his beloved hometown club just weeks after being named captain would’ve once sounded blasphemous. Yet, so would the ideas of De Rossi and Totti being employed by another Serie A side less than a fortnight ago.
Totti did say he believed that this ownership group was trying to take the Romans out of Roma. If this move were to happen then it would be further attestation to his theory—ironically enough Totti might’ve been the catalyst for such a move if it happens. Silly season is upon us and as it plays out we’ll see if this one is really that silly or if Roma will send away another native son.