As Roma sit at the top of Serie A, Michele Martinelli takes a closer look at an Alessandro Florenzi who is doing his best Simone Perrotta impression.
“Is Alessandro Florenzi the new you? Yes, but he can’t miss the amount of goals that I used to,” smiled Simone Perrotta. “He has that ability to throw himself into space. He is a player with great potential, one who importantly can do well for the Roma cause.”
Although a World Cup winner with Italy in 2006, the now 36-year-old was a substance over style player. He, like Florenzi, was a versatile midfielder, one wiling to do the donkey work that others with greater technical ability were exempt from.
The recently retired man, who was actually born in Ashton-under-Lyne, played a pivotal role in all of Roma’s most recent title challenges. And, on the evidence of this season so far, it looks like the 22-year-old could have a similar impact.
Perrotta began his professional career playing in Serie B before joining Juventus. Here he was deemed surplus to requirements and was farmed out to Bari on a co-ownership deal. Bari bought the other half of his contract for €300,000 in 2001. He spent another year at Bari and then moved to Chievo, before joining Roma in 2004.
In 2011, Florenzi, who is a product of the Trigoria youth academy, headed to Serie B club Crotone as part of a loan with option to buy deal. At the end of the season, Crotone exercised their right to purchase half of his contract for €250,000. Roma, realising their mistake, immediately signed him back for five times that price.
Part of the reason for his return was Zdenek Zeman, the demanding 4-3-3 Coach who had been impressed by Florenzi in the Second Division while he was in charge of Pescara. Florenzi, now an Italian international, has not looked back and in his breakout season made 25 starting appearances and scored three League goals. Exactly the same amount as Perrotta during his first term with the capital club.
This time around, more is expected of the young Roman – especially after his two strikes in five games so far. In Roma’s first tie he stepped into the starting line up against Livorno and scored. The goal in itself was a nice effort – a long pass from midfield, which Florenzi hit first time – but more importantly he brought a certain balance to a team which is now bossed by Rudi Garcia.
Although he lacks the touch and vision of club legend Francesco Totti and Daniele De Rossi’s ability to dominate the midfield, the youngster is viewed well by the fans given that he is Roman born and bred. That is inevitably seeing him hailed as a future captain once Totti and then De Rossi are dethroned at the Stadio Olimpico.
His ability and willingness to run himself into the ground for his teammates gives Roma a player they have been missing since they last challenged for the title. He also has a certain level of technique and pace, which have seen him fielded as an attacking midfielder, winger and even a full-back. Three positions which the under-rated Perrotta covered during his career.
“Perrotta, a key man in the changing room, was an example to me,” Florenzi noted of his former colleague in the capital. “On and off the field.”