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Alessandro Florenzi: The Kid Who Never Stood a Chance

Florenzi has officially left Roma. Where did it all go wrong?

AS Roma v Torino FC - Serie A Photo by MB Media/Getty Images

Almost 280 official games for AS Roma. 28 goals, 32 assists. This is not your average, unknown, or forgotten player leaving Roma through the back door like Jose Holebas, Wilhelmsson, Edgar Alvarez, or Michel Bastos. Or the umpteenth youth product who didn’t make the cut after tasting the first team (Crescenzi, Scurto, Antei, Verde, or Virga).

No, Alessandro Florenzi was on another level, like destined to wear the captain’s armband one-day level. You had Francesco Totti (obviously). And then Daniele De Rossi as his heir. And in 2012, it looked like Florenzi would keep that legacy going well into the 2010s. The One. The kid who would one day salute Daniele on his farewell match and take over the role as Roman leader. Just like Daniele did before him when Totti retired.

And then, around 2025, Florenzi would pass on the bandiera to Lorenzo Pellegrini. That would give the club plenty of time to nurture another future legend, for example, Volpato or Bove. My God, how perfect would that have been?

Alas, something in that great chain of Roman captains broke. After De Rossi’s final match in 2019, Florenzi only stayed with the club for six more months, while he and Edin Dzeko shared the captain's role on Paulo Fonseca’s side. Florenzi made only 14 Serie A appearances before a six-month loan to Valencia after New Year's Day. While a healthy and decent Florenzi would always reach the 30 games mark at Roma. What. A. Letdown.

After that not-so-successful spell in Spain, Florenzi was loaned out again. Twice in fact: PSG and AC Milan. Ironically, while he never won anything at Roma for nine seasons, he won titles or cups at Paris and Milan. Even on the international stage with Italy at Euro 2020. So you could say leaving AS Roma suddenly made Alessandro a winner.

Florenzi hasn’t played a single minute for Roma since January 2020 and recently left the Giallorossi for good. AC Milan bought him outright after his loan spell for not even 3 million euros. Less than three frikkin’ million. Roma sold these players for more money: Robin Olsen, Mert Cetin, Maxime Gonalons, Ivan Marcano, Juan Iturbe, Mario Rui, Dodo, Iago Falque, Federico Viviani, and Panagiotis Tachtsidis. Tell me that doesn’t make you mad. Who would’ve thought that back in, let’s say, 2016 or 2018?

So how did it come this far? Ironically Florenzi’s strengths were ultimately also his downfall. Central midfielder, winger, right-back, wingback, box-to-box, attacking midfielder. You name it, Flo played it. Alessandro was versatile and never really disappointed in all those roles. But he also never really excelled in one either. And Fonseca simply chose people who were actual right-backs, midfielders, or wingers for those positions. Not entirely his fault.

By 2019 we still didn’t know his best position, and he was only used as a joker from the bench. Fonseca preferred Bryan Cristante, Loreno Pellegrini, Amadou Diawara, Jordan Veretout, Nicolo Zaniolo, and Henirkh Mkhitaryan in midfield, while Justin Kluivert, Diego Perotti, and Cengiz Ünder divided the minutes on the wing, while Carels Pérez (a natural winger) was brought in when Florenzi left.

This leaves us with the right-back position, probably the most ‘famous’ role of Florenzi as he was often hailed (ironically, of course) as a top 3 RB in Serie A. In 2019, Rick Karsdorp didn’t impress and was out on loan; Zappacosta injured himself with the first step he set into Trigoria; Santon and Bruno Peres were Alessandro’s competitors, not really the next coming of Dani Alves or Zambrotta. However, Bruno did enjoy a nice little renaissance between 2019 and 2021.

Fonseca never opted for certainty at right-back that season, which was confusing considering Florenzi was available. And the pressure of being the next great Roman Bandiera (after Totti and DDR) perhaps became too big a burden to bear for Florenzi while he had a young Lorenzo Pellegrini lurking in the shadows.

I guess Florenzi also had his fair share of bad luck. The introduction of Fonseca, the change of ownership, and the earlier treatment of Roman heroes Totti and De Rossi. It didn’t help him or his Roman career, and we all saw his departure coming from miles away. Luckily, he won some silverware since 2020, albeit not with Roma, but Florenzi deserves those accolades, and they've been the crowning achievement of his career so far.

Florenzi also gave us a lot of good memories, like the long-range stunner vs. Barcelona or the emotional celebration with his nonna in the stands after scoring against Cagliari. So many to choose from, not surprisingly after playing 280 games for the Giallorossi. Feel free to post your favorite one in the comment section below! Let’s not mourn the past too much.

Despite all those magical moments and goals, I will remember Alessandro as the kid who never stood a chance. To follow in Daniele’s giant footsteps. To please all the fans and trainers. To succeed as captain of AS Roma.

It was never enough. Not his fault, never his fault. He just never stood a chance.