Roma in review: Player ratings for the 2021-22 season

The 2021-22 season is now behind Roma – with some good memories locked in – so it is time to look back and assess how their players performed.

During Jose Mourinho’s first season in charge, Roma finished sixth in Serie A. But most significantly of all, they lifted the Europa Conference League trophy – their first piece of silverware in 14 years.

Despite the positive closing chapter, it was a year of ups and downs. Highlights included the Conference League final win against Feyenoord, a 3-0 derby win over Lazio, and doing the double over another of the seven sisters, Atalanta.

On the flipside, there was a throwaway defeat to Juventus, and setbacks against teams that should have been beaten, like Venezia – not to mention the 6-1 thrashing at the hands of Bodo/Glimt.

Yet it simply had to be classed as a season of progress thanks to an improving mentality, a better points tally and, of course, that all important trophy.

Due to the wide range of results, it is fair to say that the players’ performance levels differed. Here, Giallorossi Yorkshire rates the overall displays of each member of the squad to have made more than five starts.

The Roma player ratings for the 2021-22 season, as always, are all out of 10.

Rui Patricio – 8.5

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It had been a few years since Roma had a goalkeeper they could really rely on, but Rui Patricio was a breath of fresh air. The veteran shot-stopper instantly brought a sense of calmness to the rear-guard.

He made a number of pivotal saves, including in the Conference League final, and even matched the record for the most clean sheets kept by a Roma goalkeeper in their first season at the club.

Trusted to a huge extent by Jose Mourinho – and deservedly so – Patricio set a record for the most starts ever made by a Roma player in one season. Finally, after the struggles of Robin Olsen and Pau Lopez, the club had found a number one to settle on.

Rick Karsdorp – 7

During the 2020-21 season, Rick Karsdorp was a revelation after returning from a loan spell with Feyenoord. Back in form and fitness, he nailed down the right-back role as his own.

In 2021-22, Karsdorp kept his place as the first-choice in his position. There were sometimes signs of defensive frailties, but going forward he remained a threat.

Benefitting from Mourinho’s use of a back three, the wing-back didn’t quite hit the same heights as the season before, but was still one of the more reliable members of the team, impressing with his energy levels and delivery.

Ainsley Maitland-Niles – 6

One of the reasons Karsdorp was able to put together another strong season was a lack of competition for his place. In an attempt to rectify that, Roma brought in Ainsley Maitland-Niles on loan in January.

The third English player to represent the squad this season, the Arsenal man made a tidy start but soon faded from prominence. Never really getting the chance to play in his preferred position of midfield, he instead offered solutions in either wing-back role.

He ultimately left Roma, though, without recording a goal or assist, so will not leave the biggest memory behind him.

Chris Smalling – 8

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Things went a lot better for Roma’s longest-serving English player over the course of the campaign. After struggling with injuries in 2020-21, Chris Smalling was back to his best upon his reunion with Mourinho.

Some predicted he would struggle under his former Manchester United boss, but this website forecasted otherwise. Ultimately, the Giallorossi Yorkshire point of view – for once – turned out to be correct.

Particularly in the second half of the season, Smalling was a force at the back. He was Serie A’s most successful player for aerial duels and impressed with his blocks and reading of the game – capping it off with a man-of-the-match performance in the Conference League final. The wall.

Gianluca Mancini – 5.5

In contrast, the performance levels of Gianluca Mancini dipped in 2021-22. Having impressed with his growing maturity the season before, the ex-Atalanta centre-back reversed his progress.

Although becoming the vice-captain of the club, Mancini picked up an extraordinary number of bookings – even for a player with an existing discipline record like him. His passion is not in question, but he also sometimes struggled in one-on-one duels.

Yet there is still a player in there to work with, so it seems he will be signing a contract extension regardless, hoping to revive his individual fortunes again.

Roger Ibanez – 6.5

For the annual Giallorossi Yorkshire awards – check back on this site in the coming days – there is a prize given to the most consistent player for the season. It is fair to reveal that it will not be Roger Ibanez.

The Brazilian endured a season of peaks and troughs in terms of his individual form. He started strongly, but never quite enough to give a sense of confidence to the backline in the way that Smalling would.

Duels could go either way, as could his passing, but his committed attitude earned him some admirers. Still, he may be the most likely centre-back to leave this summer if one has to make way.

Marash Kumbulla – 6.5

From his first Roma season, it was hard to know what quite to make of Marash Kumbulla. From the second, there were a few more clues that the club may have a player of potential to work with.

Things didn’t get off to the best of starts for the Albania international, who was a member of the starting lineup in the 6-1 defeat to Bodo/Glimt. He was certainly fourth choice in the centre-back hierarchy.

But after the turn of the calendar year, Kumbulla quietly began growing into his role, showing more composure. He passed the landmark of 50 appearances for the club, and seems to have earned himself a few more to come.

Matias Vina – 5

Brought in during the summer transfer window to fill the void left by the injured Leonardo Spinazzola, Matias Vina initially looked like he was settling in.

However, scrutiny on him began to increase as the season progressed, due to a lack of an impact in either phase. He wasn’t as bad as some made him out to be, and could still be useful as a backup to Spinazzola next term, but the Uruguay international ultimately lost his place to Nicola Zalewski, the next player you are about to read about.

And he could have no complaints due to what followed from his competitor.

Nicola Zalewski – 7

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Indeed, Zalewski was the surprise package of Roma’s season. After making his senior debut towards the back end of the previous season, the winger became an emergency solution as an alternative to Vina in the left wing-back role.

Despite it not being his natural function, Zalewski showed maturity beyond his years to approach the task well. From February onwards, he became a go-to man when Mourinho was picking his starting selections.

The Poland international did not record a goal or assist, but looked a menace down the left. It could be interesting to see how he performs as a winger if Roma change their formation next term.

Bryan Cristante – 7

The only defensive midfielder who seems to be assured of his place in Roma’s ranks for next season, Bryan Cristante was by no means excellent in 2021-22, but it was perhaps his best campaign for the club.

His exact role for Roma has always been rather vague, yet Mourinho relied on his third-captain and restored him permanently to the midfield after some adventures in defence under predecessor Paulo Fonseca last term.

Cristante’s long-range passing was good and he was occasionally a combative presence, but he let himself down with poor marking. In all fairness, that went for every member of the midfield. Overall, he was probably best in department.

Jordan Veretout – 6.5

The general perception is that Jordan Veretout was underwhelming in 2021-22, and it is fair to say it was the worst of his three seasons in Rome. However, delving into the details, it wasn’t all that bad.

Veretout started the season well, in turn earning a long-awaited first call up to the France national team. A turning point for the worse, though, came when he missed a penalty against Juventus in October.

It seemingly knocked his confidence after his previously perfect record. Particularly after the arrival of Sergio Oliveira in January, Veretout was no longer a regular starter. Yet he still managed more assists than any of his teammates, so there were positive aspects that went under the radar. His sale now seems to be a given but perhaps it shouldn’t have been this way.

Sergio Oliveira – 7

The aforementioned Oliveira was the midfield reinforcement Roma craved in January – but not necessarily of the exact style they needed.

Arriving on loan from Porto, he brought experience and a bit more calm to what had been a hectic position in the first half of the season. Oliveira seemed to have the ability to read the play a bit better than others in the department.

However, he sometimes went unnoticed and didn’t stamp his authority on every game, leaving his permanent future in the balance.

Henrikh Mkhitaryan – 7.5

If Zalewski was the surprise package of the season, then perhaps Henrikh Mkhitaryan was the runner-up for that accolade. Not for the fact he showed his quality – Roma were well used to that – but because he set aside his differences with Mourinho to perform well under a coach he once clashed with at Man Utd.

Adapting his role to that of a central midfielder, Mkhitaryan wasn’t as exciting as he had been in the previous two years under Fonseca, but he was one of the most functional players on the pitch.

Despite his goal and assist tallies being down on 2020-21, Mkhitaryan showed his intelligence and gave Roma substance where they lacked it. It now seems clear this was his last season with the club, and he will be missed.

Lorenzo Pellegrini – 8

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Embarking on a first full season as captain of his boyhood club after inheriting the armband halfway through the previous term, Lorenzo Pellegrini made history by lifting a European trophy by the end of it.

He started the season in sensational form, scoring the first goal of the Mourinho era and then contributing to six more goals in the month of September alone. There were patches when he was less productive, but the attacking midfielder was a constant source of creativity.

Pellegrini also improved drastically at his free-kick taking ability, as seen with his goal against Lazio, before putting the icing on the cake with a goal on the final day of the Serie A season to secure Europa League qualification. After that, he played all of the Conference League final and became the first man since Giacomo Losi in 1961 to hold aloft a continental trophy for Roma.

Nicolo Zaniolo – 6.5

If one player was destined to be in the spotlight for Roma in 2021-22, it was Nicolo Zaniolo. After not making any appearances in 2020-21 due to his recovery from a second ACL injury, all eyes were on the Italian to see whether he would recover his former level.

In the end, he produced a mixed array of performances. Often playing as a support striker to Tammy Abraham, Zaniolo adapted his role. His work rate was commendable, but he was sometimes a source of frustration.

There was nothing frustrating about the way in which he ended the season, though. By scoring the only goal in the Conference League final, the 22-year-old cemented his name in the history books.

Carles Perez – 6

Carles Perez didn’t get too many chances to impress in 2021-22. Largely a bench player, he had to make the best of brief cameos.

The Spaniard occasionally looked like a bright spark when he did come on, with his goal from outside the box against Salernitana in April being a particular highlight.

But his impact was too sporadic to suggest he may have a long-term future at the club. Still, someone will benefit from his talents.

Stephan El Shaarawy – 6

Likewise, fellow winger Stephan El Shaarawy couldn’t build continuity in his first full season since returning to the club. There were promising signs towards the start, such as his winning goal in Mourinho’s 1000th match in management, against Sassuolo.

Injuries hampered the mid-section of his campaign, though. Hence, he could never build on the promise he was hinting at of returning to his former level.

Going into the final year of his contract, his Roma future is once again unclear.

Tammy Abraham – 9

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What an impact. Roma spent big to sign Tammy Abraham last summer, and there were some doubts as to whether he was the right man to lead the line after Edin Dzeko’s exit, but the Chelsea old boy gave an emphatic answer.

Abraham was motivated from the start and his efforts paid off, as he ticked off landmark after landmark. Thanks to his efforts for Roma, the €40m man regained his place among the England setup. But it was his eye-catching club form that really gave him confidence.

The 24-year-old ultimately set a new record for the most goals by a Roma player in their debut season, with 27. There were all variety of them, too – including several in games of big magnitude, such as his derby brace in March – as he showed himself to be a complete number nine.

Eldor Shomurodov – 5

The fortunes of Roma’s other striker signing of 2021, Eldor Shomurodov, were at the opposite end of the spectrum. After arriving from Genoa, he looked decent in pre-season and scored on his competitive debut for the club. However, his bright start quickly faded.

Although he was mainly a substitute, Shomurodov did little to take advantage of the opportunities he got. It sometimes looked as if he was trying too hard, and the goals rarely resulted.

After a final flourish in 2020-21 with Genoa, there was always a glimmer of hope he could come good in the end, but it came far too late this time. Indeed, there was a five-month gap between his penultimate and last league goals of the season.

Felix Afena-Gyan – 5

Somewhat similarly, young prospect Felix Afena-Gyan burst onto the scene when he scored a match-winning brace against Genoa – including a stunner from outside the box.

It looked as if Roma had a top talent on their hands, but there was always an element of caution. Failing to get carried away ultimately proved to be the right judgement.

Felix was sent off in his next league appearance, in December, and never added to those first two goals for the club. Ultimately, he looked out of his depth by the end of the season and in need of development elsewhere.

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