Nemanja Matic and 10 other players who left Roma on a sour note

Goodbyes can be hard at the best of times, but sometimes players make it that way.

Over the years, there have been various examples of Roma players, who previously were highly regarded for their ability, damaging their reputation somewhat by leaving on sour terms.

Here are some examples of players who performed generally well for the club, but did themselves no favours with the ways they handled their exits.

Nemanja Matic

After reuniting with Jose Mourinho at a third club, Nemanja Matic went on to exceed expectations for Roma, featuring in 50 matches in his debut season despite being 34 years old at the time.

It came as a shock, then, when Matic suddenly wanted to leave the club on the verge of the 2023-24 season, having originally committed to a second term in the Italian capital.

Various rumours sprung up, including that Matic was refusing to train and that he had fallen out with Mourinho and his teammates, before his move to Rennes was finalised.

Getting €3m for a player in his mid-30s after signing him for free the previous year represents good business on paper, but not necessarily when the club had encountered difficulties finding reliable options in his position in recent years, and with the move occurring shortly before the start of a season.

Nicolo Zaniolo

Earlier in 2023, Roma had grown frustrated at the conduct of Nicolo Zaniolo in a saga that damaged their January transfer activity.

Zaniolo had originally exploded onto the scene with Roma after joining from Inter as a relative unknown in 2018 and still retained their trust after two serious injuries, but was reluctant to agree to a new contract, which prompted the club to try and sell him.

Despite Roma accepting a bid by Bournemouth, Zaniolo turned his nose up at the destination, which meant there was no time or money to sign a replacement.

Subsequently frozen out after most European windows closed, Zaniolo realised his fate and left for Galatasaray – in a less lucrative deal for his sellers – while the Turkish transfer window was still open.

Federico Fazio

Especially in his first season with Roma but also in his second, Federico Fazio was an important member of the club’s defence who arguably exceeded expectations.

Eventually, he became surplus to requirements, though, which led to him being frozen out of the first-team squad – along with several other cast-offs – in the summer of 2021.

Fazio did not take the news too well, with reports fairly regularly claiming he was threatening to sue the club for their decision.

The situation eventually calmed down, though, with no legal action following, and he was able to join Salernitana in January 2022.

Edin Dzeko

Edin Dzeko is Roma’s third top scorer of all time, so he will always have a positive legacy, but the final six months of his spell with the club were not smooth sailing.

In January 2021, he had a clash with head coach Paulo Fonseca, which led to him losing the captaincy. He was reintegrated by the end of the season, though, and hopes were high when Mourinho – a coach who had previously described Dzeko as the best player in the Premier League while they were both in England – succeeded Fonseca.

Despite getting some pre-season action under his belt, Dzeko decided he still wanted to leave Roma, which rocked the club on the day of a friendly with Real Betis that subsequently descended into oblivion.

Dzeko signed for a domestic rival in the shape of Inter, whom he even managed to play for in a friendly before his move was announced.

Miralem Pjanic

It’s one thing leaving Roma for Juventus, but it’s another actively paying to make it happen – and that’s what Miralem Pjanic did.

A talented playmaker across five seasons with Roma and one of the influences that brought Dzeko to the club, Pjanic tainted his reputation when it was revealed that he had activated his own release clause to jump ship to Juventus in 2016.

Pjanic paid 20% of his €32m transfer fee to tee up his move to Juventus, where he would remain for four seasons. Adding insult to injury, he won Serie A in each of them after the Scudetto had eluded him with Roma.

Medhi Benatia

Part of the Roma squad in Rudi Garcia’s first season in charge, Medhi Benatia was a key player in defence, making 37 appearances in total.

By the summer of 2014, talks were ongoing about an update to his contract, before things unravelled and he joined Bayern Munich instead.

It led to club president James Pallotta publishing a statement in which he branded Benatia a liar and someone who was “poisoning the dressing room harmony.”

Benatia has since refuted some of the claims, suggesting club officials had “convinced” fans that he wanted to leave and that Pallotta had made him a “scapegoat”.

Dani Osvaldo

Dani Osvaldo was Roma’s top scorer in both of the seasons he spent at the club, but controversy was never too far away from the striker.

He left the club for Southampton in 2013, weeks after insulting caretaker manager Aurelio Andreazzoli during the Coppa Italia final. After completing his move in what was a dark summer for the club – until Garcia’s winning start inspired newfound optimism – Osvaldo blamed a section of Roma’s fans for giving him threats and insults and suggested he was “relieved” to have left.

During a future spell with Juventus, Osvaldo added to his divide with the Roma fanbase by scoring upon his return to Stadio Olimpico, which was ironically his only Serie A goal for the Old Lady.

Mirko Vucinic

Mirko Vucinic’s five-year spell at Roma included 64 goals for the club – he hit double figures in all but his debut campaign – and three trophies.

In January 2011, though, amid rising tension with Claudio Ranieri (if such a thing is even possible), Vucinic asked to leave the club, just 18 months after extending his contract.

Ultimately, the Montenegrin attacker saw out the season, after which his agent vaguely claimed his reasons for wanting to leave had been beyond football, but also that things had by then calmed down.

Nevertheless, Vucinic still made the frowned-upon move from Roma to Juventus that summer, going on to win the Scudetto in three consecutive seasons. He has remained respectful towards Roma when talking about them beyond his playing career, though.

Cristian Chivu

A player whose Roma career was sandwiched between two transfers that were far from straightforward, Cristian Chivu spent four years with the club, between 2003 and 2007.

His arrival from Ajax was the subject of scrutiny for Roma’s financial state at the time, before he became the subject of interest from Real Madrid towards the end of his time at the club.

It turns out Francesco Totti was not the only Roma player to reject Real Madrid, though; Chivu preferred Inter and eventually forced Roma’s hand to accept their inferior offer.

In July 2007, Roma sporting director Daniele Prade accused Chivu of doing “incalculable damage” to the club by snubbing the offer that would have earned them €18m plus a friendly with Madrid.

A couple of weeks later, he jumped ship for rivals Inter, whose offer was worth €13m plus the €3m counterpart Marco Andreolli. Chivu won Serie A in his first season at San Siro.

Antonio Cassano

A controversial figure these days for his comments as a pundit, Antonio Cassano had his fair share of disputes as a player too.

After coming to Roma from Bari in 2001 for big money, the attacker began to fulfil his potential, striking up a glittering partnership with Francesco Totti. Ultimately, Cassano scored more than 50 goals for the club before leaving in January 2006.

That exit had been clouding the club for a while, though. As far back as the tumultuous 2003-04 season, Cassano was omitted from the squad by Luigi Delneri before being reinstated by subsequent coaches.

Furthermore, the months prior to Cassano’s sale were turbulent, overshadowed by a contract stand-off and a growing feud with Totti. Roma ultimately decided to sell him six months before he would have become a free agent, accepting an offer from Real Madrid for just €5m, which was below his market value.

He was the centre of controversy in Madrid too and soon realised his errors, wanting to return to Rome and settle his differences with Totti, but he never did secure a second spell with La Magica and infamously played a part in a painful Sampdoria win in 2010 that derailed Roma’s hopes of beating Inter to the Scudetto.


A significant part of the most recent Roma squad to win Serie A, Emerson played more games for the Giallorossi than any of the other clubs in his career.

But there was some scepticism about the midfielder’s departure after four seasons with the club, when he joined Juventus in 2004.

Emerson cited depression before following Fabio Capello to Turin, but not everyone bought into it – even if he had certificates to verify the illness and has insisted it was the truth years later.

Personal circumstances obviously deserve respect, especially when it comes to mental health, but his subsequent 91 appearances for Juventus across two Calciopoli-stained years reduced some of the esteem in which he had been held for his role in Roma’s 2001 league title triumph.

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