For several years, Daniele De Rossi has been the subject of transfer speculation. But, after his most unsuccessful season at Roma, the hard-tackling Italian international and Roma midfielder has come under increasing pressure in Italy's capital. This summer, it looks all the more likely he will leave for Chelsea.
So why should he stay stay with Roma?
Because he's a Roma boy through-and-through, one of the last of world football's talismans and he still has a lot more to offer his club.
The modern game has witnessed the near extinction of the dying breed of football talismans—players who have spent their entire careers at a single club. Besides De Rossi, Ryan Giggs, Steven Gerrard, Francesco Totti and Lionel Messi are some of the last of their kind.
But do they still have a role to play? Will their future absences be negligible, like that of the Dodo bird, or will we regret their departure like that of the Polar ice caps?
I foresee the latter.
The importance of such players extends beyond their everyday dedication on the pitch.
They act as tutors to new signings and up-and-coming youths, and they can teach what few other coaches or managers can. Their vast experience means that they can indoctrinate their teammates with club lore and make them passionate about wearing their kit, rather than simply playing for a paycheck bonus.
This is essential for teams both big and small when creating a cohesive squad capable of immediate results and long-terms success.
Unfortunately, the paycheck remains an important aspect for even the strongest of talismans. Take Lionel Messi, for example, who is the second-highest-paid active footballer in the world, next to Cristiano Ronaldo, according to Forbes Magazine.
But because Messi essentially single-handedly wins titles for Barcelona, it's hard to argue that he doesn't deserve the cash.
Perhaps I'm getting a bit too conceptual at this point. I don't want to sound like a sports film coach cliche.
But take Ryan Giggs, for example. Recently, he's been appointed player-coach at Manchester United. At the end of one of the most successful dynasties in club football history, rebuilding United post-Ferguson will not be easy for new manager David Moyes.
Maybe it is just a matter of time before Giggs takes the helm at United, but Moyes sees the importance of Giggs at this particularly fragile moment of the club's history. In quotes given to The Guardian, Moyes expresses his reasoning behind Giggs' new appointment.
I'm delighted that Ryan has accepted the chance to become player-coach. His success and ability to adapt his game over a number of years gives him an unrivaled perspective on the modern game. His career is an example to any aspiring young player and I'm sure that both he and the players will benefit from his new role.
Beyond their own squads, players like Giggs ensure the essential allegiance of a club's supporters, a focal point of celebration. Obviously, this means such talismans can become a scapegoat for criticism as well.
This is the position De Rossi now finds himself in with Roma.
Although undoubtedly underperforming this past season, it didn't help that for the first half of the year he was largely placed on the bench in favor of the young, unknown and unproven Panagiotis Tachtsidis.
With two seasons down the drain at Roma, De Rossi has come under scrutiny. It has gotten to the point where he has declared he is happier playing for his country than his club, as Gabriele Marcotti of ESPNFC.com discusses.
Marcotti presents a very accurate and comprehensive look at De Rossi's current situation, and why he is rightfully tempted to leave Roma.
As quoted in the ESPNFC.com article, De Rossi notes that pressure in Rome is different than elsewhere (as far as he can tell), "I hate the fact that, in Rome, you always have to defend yourself from the wildest rumors and accusations."
The signing of midfielder Kevin Strootman from PSV might be a sign that Chelsea's bid for De Rossi will be seriously considered.
But new Roma manager Rudi Garcia sees the importance of keeping the man nicknamed "Captain Future."
"He is a great player and surely it's better to have him with us than to see him leave," Garcia said in quotes given to Sky Sports.
Should De Rossi Stay Put?
Even if his age begins to catch up with him, De Rossi still has a few good years left in him as a player. His qualities on the pitch for both Italy and Roma have largely been outstanding, and fans are wrong to doubt him based on his most recent performances.
But beyond this, with a new season on the horizon, a new manager at the helm and eternal captain Francesco Totti hinting at his retirement, Rudi Garcia recognizes it is essential for De Rossi to stay put.
He must realize that having a player like De Rossi in the squad is like a rare gem. There are not many players like him left, and he's worth far more to the team than you might imagine. If Roma let him go, they will truly regret it.
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