AS Roma midfielder Daniele De Rossi’s representatives have been in talks with Manchester United over whether the Premier League leaders would be interested in an £18m move for the controversial Italian international.
The 27-year-old, is hoping to leave the Eternal City this summer following a tumultuous time in his personal life – his father-in-law was shot in a gangland attack, whilst De Rossi has separated from his wife – and has earmarked a move to Old Trafford as his preferred destination.
United hold a longstanding interest in the midfield general, who has been captain of Roma this season when Francesco Totti, the iconic forward, has been absent from the side.
Nonetheless, whenever United or Real Madrid, who have made a number of bids for the player in the last five years, have asked about the player,in the past, both clubs have been informed that he had no plans to leave the Stadio Olimpico.
However, the time when the Roma number 16 was a darling of the Giallorossi support, in the same way as the club’s number 10, have all but gone. The player himself pointed this out recently, when he referred to the reaction of the club’s supporters, after his being found guilty by UEFA of elbowing Darijo Srna, the Shakhtar Donetsk captain, during their Champions League clash in the Ukraine.
“They used to treat me as one of their own, they would tell me to throw in another elbow, but now the wind has changed” said De Rossi.
“Something here at Roma is changing.
“For a year and a half, the things I’ve heard that have given me the most pride have come from outside Rome. I have had moments at a low ebb, in which I wasn’t at my best. Do I feel wounded?
“Yes, but I don’t want to play the victim, I don’t want people to come and tell me how great I am. The wound will heal itself. Then, everyone makes his own assessments.”
De Rossi is unquestionably a footballer of outstanding ability: He was named as Serie A’s Italian Player of the Year in 2009 and has 63 caps for the Azzurri. His determination and drive from the centre of midfield are key facets of his game and these would certainly entice Sir Alex Ferguson, the United manager, to press ahead with a move for the player, especially with Paul Scholes and Ryan Giggs coming to the end of their careers.
However, the player does have a dark side as shown by his recent ‘strike’ on Srna. In 2006, during the World Cup, De Rossi planted his elbow into the head of the United States forward Brian McBride, whilst he has been no stranger to to red cards throughout his career.
But as Ferguson has shown in the past, most notably with Eric Cantona, he is a master of man-management and getting players to channel their aggressive streaks into something positive.
De Rossi’s contract with Roma expires in June 2012, and if he does push through in his attempt to leave the club this summer and find relief away from Rome, then there will certainly be no shortage of takers.
Therefore, Ferguson will need to make his move soon if he deems De Rossi a risk worth taking and wants to give the player the opportunity to express himself at Old Trafford.