Daniele De Rossi held a news conference on Tuesday after Roman announced that he is leaving his hometown club after 18 years.
De Rossi’s contract expires at the end of the season and, while a director’s role was offered to him, the 35-year-old midfielder believes he still has much to contribute on the field.
All the Roma players were sat in the front rows at the news conference, wearing team jerseys with his name on the back. Forward Edin Dzeko led a standing ovation at the end and De Rossi embraced each of his soon-to-be-former team-mates.
De Rossi has played in 615 matches for Roma, second on the all-time appearance list to Francesco Totti. He’s also scored 63 times.
De Rossi also made 117 appearances for Italy, scoring 21 goals, and won the 2006 World Cup.
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Yet another incredible football season has reached its conclusion. The beautiful game has not failed to disappoint, providing the fans with some jaw dropping – as well as heartbreaking – moments over the last nine months.
We have witnessed some brilliant one-off individual displays and a few consistent performers. We’ve had breakout players, impressing at a young age and veterans proving that age is just a number.
As part of our end-of-the-season awards for Europe’s top-five leagues, we’re honouring the Player of the Year and Breakthrough Player of the Year (stars aged 23 and under who made significant strides in 2018/19).
Here, we look at the winners from Serie A .
PLAYER OF THE YEAR
Duvan Zapata, Atalanta, 28 years old
Atalanta are on the cusp of securing a spot in the Champions League for the first time in their history. While Alejandro Gomez and Josip Ilicic have played a huge role in their storied success, Duvan Zapata deserves this individual award for his outstanding consistency in front of goal. On a two-year loan from Sampdoria, Zapata did not enjoy the best of starts, netting just once in his first 13 games. Toward the end of the 2018/19 season, the forward has 22 goals and seven assists to his name. Only Fabio Quagliarella has scored more goals and boasts of higher goal-involvements. Head coach Gian Piero Gasperini has worked wonders with the Colombian, unlocking his true talent by transforming him from back-to-goal target man, to a more direct and finessed forward. His contributions have fetched Atalanta 20 points this season, affirming himself as the top performer in the league.
Best performance: ‘Poker’ against Frosinone
Between early December and late January, Zapata enjoyed a stretch of 10 games in all competitions where he scored at least one goal in every match. The ‘poker’ (four goals) against Frosinone stands out as the best individual performance in Serie A this season.
What next for Zapata?
In 2013, West Ham and Estudiantes had agreed a deal for front-man Zapata, but he failed to obtain a work permit and the Premier League side pulled out of a move. Six years later and after a stellar season in the Serie A, the forward is yet again linked with a move to West Ham. While his physicality suits the Premier League, Zapata could well be targeted with clubs in a higher echelon. Everton is a potential landing spot but the 28-year-old won’t come cheap with estimates pricing him north of €40million.
Honourable mentions: Cristiano Ronaldo (Juventus), Fabio Quagliarella (Sampdoria)
BREAKTHROUGH PLAYER OF THE YEAR
Krzysztof Piatek, Genoa & AC Milan, 23 years old
Before the season began, Piatek was an obscurity. Geona paid Polish outfit Cracovia €4 million for his services last summer and not much was thought of him. Fast forward to the present and the 23-year-old is now a Poland international drawing comparisons with Robert Lewandowski, plays his football for AC Milan and is widely considered to be one of the premier young goalscorers in Europe. He’s a predatory striker, evidenced by the fact he’s accrued 21 goals in Serie A this term but not provided one assist. But he is a well-rounded finisher, a scorer of differently styled goals. His link-up with fellow Rossoneri January recruit Lucas Paqueta has been a big feature and if the Brazilian can remain fit next season, with these two players, Milan can be a force. The fact Milan have even a sniff of securing a Champions League spot owes to Piatek’s success because before his arrival, they were toothless. His goals have been vital and there is no player with a bigger breakthrough in 2018/19 in Europe, never mind Italy.
Best performance: Brace against Atalanta
Among other top performances, the brace against fellow top-four competitors Atalanta away from home stands out as one of his best this season.
What next for Piatek?
Talent, numbers and hype at a young age breeds interest from top European clubs. Luka Jovic is most likely on his way to Real Madrid but there are other top clubs like Barcelona, Bayern Munich and Manchester United who require a centre-forward. A lot will of course hinge on Milan’s European involvement but given his recent struggles in front of goal, it seems staying put is the best place for his development.
Honourable mentions: Lautaro Martinez (Inter), Moise Kean (Juventus)
Daniele De Rossi will call time on his 18-year career with Roma at the end of the Serie A season.
The 35-year-old midfielder made his Giallorossi debut under manager Fabio Capello in October 2001.
After making 615 appearances and scoring 63 goals, he has decided to leave the Stadio Olimpico following Roma’s season-ending clash with Parma on May 25. He will not, however, be retiring from football.
“For 18 years, Daniele has been the beating heart of Roma’s team,” club president Jim Pallotta told asroma.com.
“From his debut in 2001 to taking on the responsibility of the captain’s armband, he always represented the Roma fans on the pitch with pride as he established himself as one of the best midfielders in Europe.
“We will all shed tears when he pulls on the Giallorossi shirt for the last time against Parma, but we respect his desire to prolong his playing career – even if, at almost 36, it will be away from Rome.
“On behalf of everyone at Roma, I’d like to thank Daniele for his incredible dedication to this club and ensure him that our doors will remain open for him to return to the club in a new role whenever he wants.”
De Rossi will address the media at Roma’s Trigoria training centre at 12:45 local time on Tuesday.
Provided by Press Association Sport