And so it’s finally time to close the curtains on a very good season for Roma. In all honesty, the club would have liked to achieve more, with disappointing cup exits in the Champions League, Europa League and Coppa Italia. However, Roma’s league form saw a record points tally secured, as well as a record number of goals. Which players deserve special praise in particular?
Signing of the Season – Federico Fazio
There wasn’t much competition for this award, with most of Roma’s key signings being permanent deals for players who were already on loan at the club, such as Antonio Rudiger, Mohamed Salah and Stephan El Shaarawy. But even if there had have been, Federico Fazio would have taken some beating to be named the club’s best new player of 2016/17. The Tottenham Hotspur outcast thrived in his debut Serie A season, displaying superb organisational skills of Roma’s back line. Adapting to a back three or a back four, the Argentinian’s performances set him apart from Roma’s other arrivals, including some who had been more promising upon signing. His new nickname, ‘Il Comandante’, sums up his dominating presence and consistency at the heart of Roma’s defence throughout the whole season.
Young Player of the Season – Emerson Palmieri
Emerson set Serie A alight in 2016/17, putting in a string of excellent displays to make the left back position his own. He was equally adept at going forward as he was at defending. The 22-year-old showed maturity beyond his years, and became a regular starter in the capital. An ill-timed ACL injury at the end of the season meant he missed out on being capped by Italy – the country he switched allegiance to in 2017 – for the first time, which would have been his first taste of senior international football. It was a shame, because he certainly deserved his call up by the Azzurri.
Old Player of the Season – Daniele De Rossi
For all the plaudits awarded to young players in season reviews, it only seems fair to reward the more experienced members of a team as well. This season Daniele De Rossi led by example for Roma, even at the age of 33. He showed the consistency and intelligence that defines leadership. A lack of relative pace is not an issue for De Rossi, as he works his way around it, letting his experience do the talking instead. Edin Dzeko and Mohamed Salah may have got most of Roma’s goals last year, but it was Daniele De Rossi who won Roma a great number of matches.
Surprise Package – Emerson Palmieri
Having explored all the qualities that Emerson showed last season, we should also remember that he was not the club’s first choice left back last season – and he may not have been this season either. Had Mario Rui not injured his ligaments in pre-season, Emerson may never have got the chance to nail down the left back spot and force his way into the side. What was unfortunate for Rui became the very opportunity that Emerson needed in order to prove himself at this level. And not only did he prove himself, he exceeded all the expectations that would have been set on him.
Most Improved Player – Juan Jesus
At the start of the season, Brazilian defender Juan Jesus appeared a weak link in Roma’s defence. The Inter Milan loanee looked out of his depth in systems he wasn’t used to playing in. However, with the turn of the year, Roma switched to a back three, which favoured Jesus’s attributes. In this formation he flourished, growing in confidence as the weeks went on. By the end of the season, he hadn’t quite become a key component of Roma’s team in the same way that Emerson had, but he had shown major signs of improvement. That may not have been enough though; Eusebio Di Francesco plans to use a back four again next season, and the club have already signed Hector Moreno, who can play in the same two roles as Jesus (centre back or left back). Despite his developments, Juan Jesus may not be a Roma player again next season.
Most Consistent Player – Kevin Strootman
The Dutch midfielder returned to the very top with his form in 2016/17, and showed few signs of weakness along the way. A hard-working player, he rarely had a bad game in the Roma shirt over the course of the season. He was fundamental to Roma’s success, providing a link between the deeper midfield two and the attack. Possessing a range of qualities, he is one of few players in his position worldwide who can reasonably claim to be world class, and nearing ‘completion’. And he may still even have further steps to make – if this was his first full season back from injury, what can we expect from him with even more sustained time on the pitch? Even greater things may await Kevin Strootman again in 2017/18.
Highest Average Rating – Daniele De Rossi
With a Giallorossi Yorkshire average rating of 8.04 over the whole season, the passionate midfielder was usually at the top of his game. It wouldn’t be fair – or accurate – to say that Roma were reliant solely on him, but he was a presence that the team knew they could always count on in big games. He has never been one to shy away from the pressure, and it was business as usual in 2016/17; only the superb Radja Nainggolan was named GY man of the match on more occasions than De Rossi over the campaign.
Goal of the Season- Radja Nainggolan v Sampdoria
Speaking of Radja, how good was this goal against Sampdoria in the Coppa Italia in January? Coming right at the moment when the Belgian was at the peak of his form, the reactive right-footed volley was a true moment to savour. It showed fantastic instinct and perfectly executed technique, and was also impressive for the way he altered his speed to adapt to where the ball was going to land. It was a truly memorable strike, and beats off some fantastic competition in the GY Goal of the Season choice (his own curling effort against Inter, or Paredes’s long distance strike against Torino, for example). And that’s because it was, quite simply, a remarkable goal, from a remarkable player.
Player of the Season – Radja Nainggolan
Remarkable indeed. For the first time in a while, Roma had a player in their ranks who was one of the very best in world football. Radja had it all – the goals, the energy, the pressing, the tackling… is there anything he can’t do? He became a hugely important link between the defence and attack, as an attacking midfielder in a 4-2-3-1 or a 3-4-2-1, thanks largely to his work rate and determination to succeed. And that determination reaped its rewards, as he was named Roma’s player of the season by fans on the club’s official website. It would be an extremely difficult decision to disagree with; Nainggolan was immense.
(Special mentions: Edin Dzeko and Mohamed Salah both had excellent seasons, with Dzeko making history with a record of over 30 goals, finishing as the top scorer in Serie A, and Salah contributing double figures for both goals and assists, despite missing about a month whilst at the African Cup of Nations. Both are extremely unlucky to not pick up an award, but that just goes to show how strong Roma’s squad were last season).
And that’s that for 2016/17. Now it is time to look forward, eagerly, to an exciting new era for Roma. Eusebio Di Francesco and Monchi are on board and will be hard at work to ensure that, in twelve months’ time, Roma will be looking back at another excellent season, one in which it will hopefully be even more difficult to select winners for awards. Back to the present though, and a congratulations for all the Giallorossi Yorkshire winners of 2016/17 is thoroughly deserved.