We all remember when Roma signed former Inter and Manchester City fullback Maicon back in the summer of 2013. Even with his best days behind him, there was ample reason to give Big Dougie one final shot at top flight football. For starters there was Roma’s deplorable record at developing and securing fullbacks, a point we’ve discussed to no end around here, one that appears to be slowly correcting itself, but at the time, taking a gamble on a 32-year-old fullback on the tail end of his career was a worthwhile venture.
At minimum, he would serve as a bridge of sorts while Roma sorted out what to do with Alessandro Florenzi, but as it turned out there was another not so subtle reason for signing Maicon, the World Cup. With his homeland hosting the tournament for the first time in the summer of 2014, Maicon was as motivated as ever to make the Selecao’s squad for what they would surely deem the most important international tournament ever.
And while Big Dougie didn’t play as much as he was accustomed to, and while Brazil didn’t even come close to winning it all, as far as Roma was concerned, that summer’s World Cup was the best news they received all year. Maicon wasn’t what he once was, but he logged 2,800 extremely effective minutes for Roma that season, giving the club a level of proficiency at right back they haven’t really matched yet, at least not for an entire season.
To say Aleksandar Kolarov needed similar motivation to return to Serie A wouldn’t exactly be fair, but one can presume getting first team minutes ahead of Russia 2018 was at least in the back of Kolarov’s mind when he signed on with Roma. With no one standing in his way, at least until Emerson Palmieri is back, Kolarov has seized the day, playing as well as nearly any left back in the league, and definitely giving Roma a similar Maicon-esque spark on the flanks.
While Kolarov will undoubtedly be joined in Russia by more of his Roma team mates, at least for now he, along with Alisson Becker and Hector Moreno, has some early bragging rights around Trigoria.
But who else will join them? Daniele De Rossi, Stephan El Shaarawy, Alessandro Florenzi and even Lorenzo Pellegrini are all options for Italy, if they should qualify (yeesh), while Radja Nainggolan’s exclusion from Belgiums national setup remains inexcusable. If all goes according to plan, Roma could have close to ten men represented at next summer’s World Cup.
That’s branding, my friends.