With a mop of curls sitting atop a boyish smile, Alessandro Florenzi still sort of feels like Francesco Totti and Daniele De Rossi's kid brother. Part of that stems from the Roman narrative we all love so much, where Florenzi was seen as the natural heir to Totti's throne, but it didn't take long for Ale to write his own story. From rushing into the stands to kiss his nonna after scoring a goal to his jaw-dropping lob against Barcelona in the 2015 Champions League, Florenzi has done more than enough to establish a legacy apart from his two Roman predecessors.
Unfortunately, much like Totti and De Rossi before him, Florenzi's Roman tale couldn't resist the forces of time nor forestall the march of Roma's parade of managers. After overcoming successive ACL injuries in 2016 and 2017, Florenzi fought like hell to return to the lineup, becoming an indispensable part of Roma's plans, racking up more than 80 appearances in all competitions since returning to the pitch in the fall of 2017.
While Ale managed to remain an integral piece for Eusebio Di Francesco and Claudio Ranieri between 2017 and 2019, Paulo Fonseca's arrival in the capital in the summer of ‘19 cast a pall over Florenzi's future in his hometown. With 12 starts in the fall of 2019, things between Fonseca and Florenzi seemed hunky-dory, but Roma's captain was quickly and unceremoniously loaned to Valencia in the spring of 2020.
Roma was no worse for the wear thanks to Rick Karsdorp's resurgence, but watching Florenzi flounder with Valencia left many Roma fans with a hollow feeling. Florenzi wasn't a world-beater like Totti and De Rossi, but he was one of ours, and watching him struggle so far from home was tough to stomach.
So when the 2020-2021 season began with Karsdorp firmly entrenched at right-back, Roma had to work quickly to sort out their former captain's future. While there were some intermittent whispers about Florenzi relocating to a different Serie A club, Ale made a surprising move to Paris, spending last season on loan with PSG. With 26 appearances, two goals, and one assist in all competitions, Florenzi availed himself quite well with one of the world's richest clubs, so much so that speculation ran rampant that the Parisiens were keen on keeping the 30-year-old Florenzi.
PSG's €9 million option on Florenzi came and went unclaimed, but with his Italy duties keeping him busy over the past month, and with Roma being absorbed in all things José Mourinho, Florenzi’s uncertain future got lost in the shuffle. No transfer rumors, no ham-fisted, politically correct quotes about his future. Nothing.
But now that Euro 2020 is over and Roma's pre-season training is underway, we have to ask: What does the future hold for Alessandro Florenzi?
He may not be cut and dyed in the Mourinho cloth, but Florenzi's famed versatility could suddenly place him front and center in The Special One’s summer plans. Following Leonardo Spinazzola's Achilles injury, Roma has been scrambling to find a short-term replacement at left-back. From Emerson Palmieri to Ramy Bensebaini to Marcos Alonso, Roma is seemingly casting a wide net to find temporary help at left-back, but could the suddenly forgotten Florenzi help Roma survive six months without Spinazzola?
As we all know, Florenzi came up the ranks as a midfielder/wide-forward, but the bulk of Florenzi's career has been spent at full-back, including more than a few spot appearances on the left flank. And with takers for the 30-year-old seemingly few and far between, could Mourinho look to the veteran as a stop-gap solution for the club's sudden left-back problem?
Between Karsdorp, Bryan Reynolds, Florenzi, and even Marash Kumbulla and Davide Santon, Roma has enough pieces to weather the storm without Spinazzola. It's not perfect, but it's enough in the hands of a manager as capable as Mourinho.
But, and more to the point, in addition to filling in at left-back, Florenzi can conceivably fill in for/augment/complement players and roles as varied as Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Nicolo Zaniolo, Stephan El Shaarawy, Karsdorp, and Pedro. That's no small feat when you consider the spate of injuries Roma endures each and every year.
Being a full-back was foisted upon Florenzi several years ago, but that decision, which forever altered the trajectory of his career, could be his saving grace as he transitions to the latter stages of his career.
Florenzi may not conjure the same emotions as the Romans before him, but few among us can question his commitment to the club, the city, and his craft—he deserves to write his own Roma ending on that alone.
The marriage between Florenzi and Mourinho isn't exactly torn from the pages of The Notebook, but just because it's an awkward fit doesn't mean it can't work.
What Roma needs at the moment is exactly what Florenzi provides: an ego-less, jack-of-all-trades utility player who has always (and will always) give his all for the club of his birth.
Bring him home, José.