If I were to scour our entire archive, or do one of those word cloud things where the most common words of a given piece appear larger than the rest, the words ‘Roman’ or ‘born and bred’ or ‘hometown boy’ would loom large in CdT history. After all, the allegiance shown by players like Francesco Totti are part of what makes this club so special, and as we’ve discussed intermittently throughout this year, with Daniele De Rossi finally assuming the mantle of captain, supported dutifully by Alessandro Florenzi, and with Lorenzo Pellegrini waiting in the wings, Roma’s Romaness is in safe hands...or so it seems.
While few among us can question the love these Romans hold for their local team, love alone isn’t enough to form a lasting bond, and if you read the papers each of De Rossi, Florenzi and Pellegrini may not be long for the Eternal City. While the reasons vary, each man may be tempted by foreign suitors in the very near future.
For all his faults as a right back, Florenzi’s commitment to the team and professionalism is beyond reproach. Florenzi’s senior team career has, more or less, coincided with the arrival of the American regime. Since making his Roma debut in the fall of 2012, Florenzi has toiled for five different managers in a variety of roles, featuring in midfield, attack and fullback. And for as much as we may laud that versatility, it has come at a cost of his development, but we’ve seldom heard a word of complaint.
Florenzi may never be a top fullback, but he is nevertheless drawing transfer interest from a few clubs. Late last week word broke that Luciano Spalletti was interested in reuniting with the versatile 27-year-old at Inter Milan, and today a new name entered the fray, Atletico Madrid. It appears as though the same team Roma dispatched in the group stages of the Champions League are tracking Florenzi in case their own jack of all trades, Sime Vrsaljko skips town.
While no figures have been bandied about, it nevertheless speaks to Florenzi’s popularity on the transfer market. The younger Roman, Pellegrini, is also starting to pop up in the transfer rags, largely due to his relatively low release clause.
Pellegrini, who only rejoined Roma this summer, is rumored to have a release clause as low as €25 million, a figure which is a drop in the bucket for the likes of Juventus, who are rumored to be weighing a move for the 21-year-old midfielder. Speaking to this point, Pellegrini somewhat non-committal, saying simply “In any case, having a release clause doesn’t mean you have to leave. We’ll meet at the end of the season and take stock of the situation.”
The dreaded end of the season meeting are words that make Roma fans cringe, especially when you’re talking about a local kid like Pellegrini. This is one instance, however, in which Roma’s relative size to Juventus may play in their favor—if Pellegrini finds playing time hard to come by with Roma, I’m not sure Juve would be any easier. Taking that a step further, with no nominal attacking midfielders on the current roster, and with the futures of Kevin Strootman and Radja Nainggolan up in the air, Pellegrini’s role with Roma could get quite a boost next season.
De Rossi’s role in this play is a bit different given his age and status. Coming off a resurgent season (at points), De Rossi seems re-energized, to the point where he’s reconsidering his future as a footballer. Having signed a two-year deal in the spring of 2017, many assumed De Rossi would retire when that deal expires in June 2019, possibly following his father into the coaching game, but De Rossi now admits that he is no longer considering such an immediate retirement.
While the immediate futures of Florenzi and Pellegrini are sure to be points of contention, I’m not sure either of them will carry the weight of De Rossi’s looming decisions. Will we have to suffer through another contentious swan song next season, much like we did with Francesco Totti last season, or will the club reward De Rossi’s rejuvenation with a series of one-year deals, or might De Rossi opt for the long rumored MLS move?
Whatever the case may be, for a club that finds strength in this provincial pride, the future of these three men are no laughing matter. As we saw with Totti, when you’re dealing with Romans, you best tread lightly.