The 2020-21 season was a draining, difficult one for Roma, who finished down in seventh place in Serie A.
While the club’s form as a whole was disappointing, not every player had to hang their head in shame. But there were some who didn’t reach the standards required either.
Looking back on the campaign, here’s how Giallorossi Yorkshire rated every member of the Roma squad out of 10. Only those to have made five appearances or more are included.
Pau Lopez – 6Embed from Getty Images
Lopez has never justified the price that Roma spent on him, but hasn’t necessarily been a total flop either. After an inconsistent first season at the club, he began its follow-up year in similar fashion, and even lost his place as a starter.
He eventually reclaimed that role and his confidence began to grow from around January onwards. The Spaniard’s performances improved as a result, even if they weren’t spectacular.
His season unfortunately ended after a shoulder injury, denying him the chance to build on the form he was recovering. Roma continue to be linked with other goalkeepers for the starting role, putting his future in question despite a decent campaign on the balance of things.
Antonio Mirante – 5.5
For Mirante, the situation was the opposite to Lopez. Having always been a reliable backup, he began the season as first choice and was comfortable in the role.
However, mistakes began to catch up with him and he was overtaken in the hierarchy once more. From that point on, he struggled to stand in like he had before, with his performance after replacing Lopez in the 6-2 loss to Manchester United a particular low point. Roma have since confirmed that this was his last season at the club.
Daniel Fuzato – 6
Beginning the season out on loan, Fuzato soon encountered problems. He returned in January without having played, leaving him stranded on one senior appearance at the age of 23.
Time was running out for the Brazilian to get going, but Lopez’s injury and Mirante’s loss of form late in the campaign finally gave him a chance. Fuzato responded well and looked comfortable in the few games he did play, perhaps buying himself more time at the club.
Gianluca Mancini – 8Embed from Getty Images
Taking on a more senior role this season after being a regular last year as well, Mancini became one of the captains of the group thanks to his committed and passionate displays. He was a leader from the back and always demanded the maximum from himself and his teammates.
Winning many individual battles and also being a threat in the other box on occasion, Mancini embodied the kind of spirit that would have served many of his teammates better.
The only thing lacking was a bit more discipline, but Mancini represented the badge with pride and was one of the standout defenders in the entire league. He was very unlucky to miss out on the final Italy squad for Euro 2020.
Chris Smalling – 6
After waiting anxiously to seal his signing on a permanent basis in October, what followed for Smalling was rather underwhelming. After such an impressive loan spell last season, he couldn’t build up momentum due to a series of frustrating injuries.
When he was on the pitch, he still did reasonably well, even if he didn’t match last season’s standards. However, the physical problems that limited him meant this season was a disappointment.
Roger Ibanez – 6.5
Thrust into regular first-team action after lockdown last year, Ibanez cemented his place in the back three this season. His performances were mixed; sometimes his best qualities showed, and other times he let himself down.
Ibanez’s commitment is not in question, but he needs to back it up with more consistent performances. The last-ditch tackles and aerial duels are something to build from, but the lapses in concentration and clumsy losses of possession must go.
Considering his relative lack of experience, though, there were signs of progress.
Marash Kumbulla – 5
Arriving with great expectations, Kumbulla sent a reminder that he is still a young, developing player from whom not too much should be expected too soon. The Albania international struggled to replicate the levels he had shown with Verona the year before.
Sometimes he looked too soft at the back, but he put in some better performances in that regard towards the end of the season. Still, he has a long way to go.
Federico Fazio – 4.5
Paulo Fonseca phased Fazio out of the Roma lineup over his time with the club, but may have done so to too large an extent. When he had to rely on the Argentine due to other absences, Fazio looked short of fitness and confidence.
A shadow of the player once known as the ‘Comandante’, he was rusty and made too many mistakes on the few occasions he did play. It might have been the final nail in the coffin for his once promising Roma career.
Juan Jesus – 5
Someone who has definitely played his last game for the club, Jesus was similarly frozen out under Fonseca. He should in theory have been more comfortable in the back three that the coach adopted, but his standards had long since slipped.
He stabilised his performance levels in some of his later appearances, but not enough to dislodge other options ahead of him.
Rick Karsdorp – 8.5Embed from Getty Images
One of the success stories of the season, Karsdorp returned from a loan spell at Feyenoord and carved out a stronger career for himself at Roma.
Having shaken off the injury issues that had prevented him making progress before, the Dutchman became a regular on the right flank. Impressing both going forward and in defence, he was a perfect fit for the wing-back role.
Karsdorp provided balance to Fonseca’s system and was one of the most consistent performers of the entire year, earning himself a contract extension in the process.
Bruno Peres – 6.5
In terms of technical ability, Peres never was and never would be among the best players in Roma’s squad. But in terms of attitude, he was among the standouts in his final campaign with the club.
He had begun to get back on track after returning from loan in January 2020, and this season he built on that progress. Adapting to either the right- or left-hand side of defence, he went about his business with no complaints and showed his passion for the badge. His quality may have been lacking, but he can be relatively proud of his efforts after his exit.
Davide Santon – 6
Santon started the season strongly, but that feels like a long time ago. Injury issues soon disrupted him and he was out for much longer than expected.
By the time he came back, he had little chance of overtaking Karsdorp at right-back and had to settle for a bit-part role. His performances were generally of an acceptable standard, but there weren’t enough of them to earn a high mark.
Bryan Reynolds – 4.5
Roma’s acquisition of Reynolds from MLS side FC Dallas in January did not seem like one for the immediate present, and his performances backed up that initial judgement.
It will take time for the youngster to adapt to European football, but he looked like someone who needs to build more confidence before he can contribute for a club like Roma.
Leonardo Spinazzola – 8
In a parallel universe, Roma never got to see Spinazzola performing at these standards after his proposed swap with Matteo Politano one-and-a-half years ago. While it remains somewhat bittersweet to see academy product Politano succeeding elsewhere, the club will be glad they kept hold of Spinazzola.
The left wing-back was one of the Giallorossi’s most consistent players, often creating danger despite starting from a defensive position. Able to cut inside onto his stronger right foot or take the ball to the byline, he kept opponents guessing and his teammates hopeful.
Roma’s struggles in bigger games often coincided with his absence or decreasing levels of performance, showing just how important he was to the team’s functionality.
Riccardo Calafiori – 6
Calafiori has a bright future with Roma, but will have to wait a little longer to fulfil it. Physical problems limited his progress this season, although he did produce some memorable moments.
His first goal for the club, for example, was a stunning show of his confidence and technique, as he thundered a strike in from outside the box in the Europa League game against Young Boys. If he can find more continuity in the team, he will be hoping to replicate events like that.
Bryan Cristante – 7.5Embed from Getty Images
Cristante’s work rate and attitude has never been in question, but sometimes his quality has. An unexpected answer to that dilemma came with his transition into a deeper role in the middle of the back three for many of his appearances in his third season with Roma.
He made no complaints upon the conversion into a role that allowed him to better express his long-range passing. Along the way, he became one of the vice-captains of the group thanks to his commitment.
A couple of errors in the defensive phase began to creep in towards the end of the season, but Cristante did well on the whole in uncharted territory.
Jordan Veretout – 8.5
There is a strong case to suggest that Veretout is Roma’s most irreplaceable player. His second season with the club was even better than his first, as he added an extra dimension to his game with more goals.
Remaining a perfect penalty taker, the Frenchman began contributing more goals from open play as well, becoming a greater attacking threat as a whole while also working hard out of possession.
Without him in the team, Roma looked completely different, missing his dynamism and determination.
Amadou Diawara – 5
It has been a shame to see Diawara’s downturn in form over the past year, because his original impressions at Roma were positive. However, since the return from lockdown towards the end of the 2019-20 season, the midfielder has not been the same player.
In 2020-21, Diawara continued to make some sloppy errors in possession, and lost his place in the team as a result. Sometimes there were glimmers of what he is really capable of, but often he failed to hit the standards he should be capable of.
Gonzalo Villar – 6.5
Amid Diawara’s phasing out from the team, Villar initially took his chance to step into the midfield. The Spaniard had impressed in patches since joining in January 2020, so was entrusted with a bigger role.
His quality on the ball gave a new air of confidence to Roma for the first few months of the season. However, upon the turn of the year, he too began to suffer a decline in performance levels.
Fonseca had to fend off questions that Villar was tired amid a draining campaign, which still seems the most feasible explanation. On the whole, though, he can be proud of his first full season in a top-flight league.
Ebrima Darboe – 7
Darboe only made his senior debut in the final month of the season, but made the most of his opportunities.
Immediately endeared to the fans because of his unique story, the former child migrant looked like a seasoned professional as soon as he stepped into the team. He held his own against opponents such as Manchester United, Inter Milan and Lazio, expressing his calmness and confidence.
In just a few games, the midfielder has earmarked a bright future for himself at senior level.
Lorenzo Pellegrini – 8Embed from Getty Images
2020-21 was the season in which Rome-born Romanista Pellegrini became club captain, although maybe not in the circumstances he was expecting.
After struggling with inconsistency in the previous campaign, this time around Pellegrini was much more mature and reliable. Roma knew they could regularly count on their leader, who developed his reputation as a provider of assists and extended it with an array of goals as well.
For someone who is still relatively young as a captain, Pellegrini grew in dependability and importance, emerging as one of the few to hold their heads high after a difficult season.
Javier Pastore – 5.5
There was a time when it felt like Pastore might not play for Roma in 2020-21, which would have been a disastrous situation given that he is their second highest earner.
In the end, he finally returned to action in April and made five substitute appearances. The Argentine barely had enough time to make an impression, so even though he didn’t do too much wrong when he played, it would not be appropriate to grade him highly.
Henrikh Mkhitaryan – 9
What a player. The standout star across the past two seasons, Mkhitaryan continued to prove his class after becoming a permanent Roma player.
He started the season in sensational form and although his standards slipped slightly after the turn of the year – with an injury not helping – he finished the campaign with double figures for both goals and assists. No other player had managed that for Roma since Mohamed Salah in 2016-17.
Roma’s return to form in the final few weeks of the season coincided with Mkhitaryan’s, showing just how important he is. Thankfully, he has committed for another season as he looks to continue his renaissance in Rome.
Carles Perez – 6
Perez showed flickers of excitement in the second half of the 2019-20 season, but was given very few opportunities in his first full campaign with the club.
Roma’s tactical switch did not suit him, but perhaps Fonseca should have shown him a little more trust. He once again showed glimpses of what he can do, such as his goal against Benevento in which he dribbled from his own half, but it was all too rare to make any meaningful impact and now his future is in question.
Pedro – 6
When Roma signed Pedro last summer, they expected to get a player of top experience and quality. Things started positively with a goal from outside the box against Udinese, but his trajectory soon went downhill.
It almost seemed like he was trying too hard at times, as he kept stumbling over the ball or making clumsy errors. This was not the player Roma thought they would see.
But if there’s one way to make up for any negativity, it’s scoring in the derby – and that’s exactly what Pedro did to end the season on a higher note.
Stephan El Shaarawy – 5.5
Roma tried to re-sign El Shaarawy last summer, only to see the move fall through. Instead, they had to wait until January to bring him back, by which time he was out of shape and form.
Perhaps not too much should be read into his first few months back at the club, and instead they should have been treated as an extended pre-season for him to regain fitness. But when he did play, there were few signs of the excitement he regularly demonstrated in his first spell with the club.
Hopefully with a proper pre-season, he can regain those levels.
Edin Dzeko – 6
Dzeko has had many great seasons in a Roma shirt. This was not one of them.
Due to various reasons, the striker was unable to build up any momentum. He was on the verge of leaving the club for Juventus as the season began, then had time out with coronavirus and in January, fell out with Fonseca. Stripped of the captaincy as a result, he began to get fewer opportunities.
Dzeko did not score in Serie A after that clash, but was more like his usual self on the European stage, which left a slightly sweeter taste for his season as a whole. With six goals in the Europa League, compared to his seven domestic strikes, he was named in that tournament’s squad of the season.
Borja Mayoral – 7.5Embed from Getty Images
It had been a long time since Roma had had a reliable deputy for their main striker, but Mayoral helped ease the burden from Dzeko in the first season of his two-year loan.
After arriving from Real Madrid, it took the Spaniard some time to get going. At first, his best chances came in the Europa League, but he began to use that stage to prove his worth.
Eventually, he ended the season with 17 goals, one of the highest-scoring debut campaigns in Roma history. There are still some question marks over him, as many of those goals came against weaker sides. But as a backup – who actually started as many games as Dzeko in the end – he certainly did his job.
The Giallorossi Yorkshire season review will continue later this week with awards for both the men’s and women’s teams.