For the second year in a row (and, the second coach in a row), AS Roma icon Daniele de Rossi is having trouble fitting into his club’s new scheme. Despite a new five-year contract signed last season, those troubles have led to renewed transfer speculation, with the 29-year-old even throwing out a tease to Major League Soccer fans.
“I hope someday [to maybe play] in the U.S.A.,” de Rossi recently confessed to the New York Times. “I’ve spoken a long time with Michael [Bradley] about it. I would love to come to the U.S. to play.”
Last year under Luis Enrique, the former midfield cornerstone was shuffled between a Sergio Busquets role and central defense in the former Barcelona coach’s system. This season, under new boss Zdenek Zemen, de Rossi’s started only eight of 18 Serie A matches.
The selection issues leave the assumed future captain of Roma with a dilemma. The Rome-born icon has a fierce loyalty to the club, but having gone through last year’s ordeal (one which included the added complexity of a contract negotiation), de Rossi has likely envisioned scenarios where he have to leave the Giallorossi. Now one of those scenarios may be coming to fruition, with acquisitions like that of Michael Bradley’s putting de Rossi’s selection in doubt.
For his part, de Rossi seems focused on his Roma future. “I never tried, or really wanted, to play outside for another team,” he said, optimistically predicting, “I’m sure I will soon have more time on the field.”
When asked about rumors of a potential move, specifically to Manchester City (a long rumored link), de Rossi’s coy. He initially denies hearing them before relenting: “Well, O.K. I’ve heard this rumor. I’m sure my future will be a good experience no matter where I play.”
Among his possible destinations, the U.S. is the first place he mentions. He learned English at a young age, and with a residence in England (where he spends time with his English/American girlfriend), cultural adaptation wouldn’t be an issue.
But as he notes, De Rossi is still young. He’s 29, still able to playing at the highest levels, and (as important for his immediate MLS future) still capable of making huge sums at a place like Manchester City. He has his Italy career to consider, too.
De Rossi seems one contract away from playing in MLS, but if he comes, he’d be another jewel for the league. A rugged but skilled defender, de Rossi would have no trouble adapting to the physicality of North American soccer. With both playmaking and goal scoring skills that are better than almost every MLS midfielder, even an older de Rossi should be able to put up some numbers.
But check back in 2016. For now, de Rossi’s future seems to be at Roma. Probably.