It has been a year of ups and downs for Roma – but fortunately, they ended 2020 on a positive trajectory.
The Giallorossi headed into the winter break in the top four in Serie A – meaning they are on course to achieve their target.
Of course, there is a lot of work still to be done; the season is not yet half complete. But several players are in strong form and will be hoping to inspire a better 2021.
But who stood out most for Roma in 2020? Playing well across a whole calendar year is an achievement, as it shows a player has done well at the end of one season and the start of another.
So, who was that the case for at Roma over the past 12 months? Here are the top five players of 2020 according to Giallorossi Yorkshire.
5. Gianluca ManciniEmbed from Getty Images
When Gianluca Mancini arrived at Roma in 2019, he was quickly entrusted with becoming a cornerstone of a new-look centre-back partnership.
Chris Smalling took the headlines next to him at first, and rightly so, but Mancini grew as the season went on.
Paulo Fonseca gave no player more starts in Serie A last season. Mancini was always reliable at the back, whether in a centre-back pairing or as part of a three-man rearguard.
If there was one thing he needed to improve, it was his discipline – and he has done this season. He did not receive a yellow card until December, showing increasing maturity in a position of responsibility.
4. Gonzalo VillarEmbed from Getty Images
An unknown at the start of 2020, a key player by the end of it. Gonzalo Villar made an incredible impression after joining Roma in January, considering he had never played top flight football before.
The midfielder has been given more and more gametime as the year has progressed, impressing all along the way. Roma have never lost when he has started.
Villar has surged up the midfield hierarchy and has made more starts this season so far than he has appearances off the bench. His story in 2020 has been astonishing.
3. Roger IbanezEmbed from Getty Images
Another January arrival who made an impact bigger than anyone could have imagined, Roger Ibanez has established himself at the heart of Roma’s defence.
The Brazilian had only played twice for Atalanta before he moved to the capital, but after making his debut in the first game after lockdown, Ibanez looked like he had been a professional for many years.
Benefitting from the switch to a back three, but also capable of playing in a back four, the 22-year-old has stood out for his commitment, ability to make crucial blocks and tackles, and his reading of the game.
It now seems unthinkable to imagine a Roma defence without him.
2. Leonardo SpinazzolaEmbed from Getty Images
Had things gone differently, Leonardo Spinazzola may not have spent much time at Roma in 2020 at all. His first half-a-season since joining from Juventus was not of the standard expected, and he was on the verge of leaving for Inter Milan.
The transfer collapsed due to Inter requesting a second medical. Perhaps it was fate.
From then on, Spinazzola reached the heights he had been showing with the champions. Moving over to his preferred role on the left-hand side of the pitch, he began to enjoy himself more, creating havoc by getting forwards.
Pushing even further up after the switch to a back three, Spinazzola has been one of Roma’s best players of the season so far. The Italian has claimed to be in the best form of his career, and it would be hard to disagree.
Expendable at the start of the year, instead he is now pivotal for the club.
1. Henrikh MkhitaryanEmbed from Getty Images
There could only be one winner. It has been a positive year for many Roma players, but it has been a sensational one for Henrikh Mkhitaryan.
After joining the club on loan from Arsenal late last summer, the attacking midfielder began to make an impact. However, injuries disrupted him in 2019.
In 2020, though, Mkhitaryan has been able to build up several strong spells of form. The Armenian has been a magician on the ball, with the way he keeps hold of it while dribbling defying description at times.
His eye for goal has been a major benefit to Roma, too. He scored a hat-trick against Genoa recently, for example – the first time a Roma player has scored a treble in Serie A since 2016.
Taking up what is essentially a free role in attacking midfield in the current formation, Mkhitaryan has used his intelligence to provide goal after goal and assist after assist.
When remembering that Mkhitaryan was able to join the club on a permanent basis this summer without a transfer fee, he will go down as one of the shrewdest signings Roma have ever made.