It may seem from the outside that Manchester City manager Roberto Mancini is well-stocked in central midfield, but he's been chasing De Rossi for some time and has been linked with a fresh bid in the New Year... Here’s everything you need to know about the Little Gladiator…
The scene at the end of Fight Club where the Pixies grind up “Where Is My Mind” to the backdrop of collapsing buildings could well be an apt metaphor for Daniele De Rossi’s somewhat turbulent life of late.
The AS Roma midfielder has gone from becoming the on-pitch leader elect for both club and country to someone seemingly numbed by the rigours and pressures of the intense, in-your-face world of Italian – or should that be Roman - football.
Now 29, and no longer at ease with the moniker “The Little Gladiator”, De Rossi’s demeanour suggests that he has had to face up to the fact that he must enter adulthood both professionally and away from the pitch as he attempts to discover his sense of being.
This path to enlightenment may mean breaking away from what some would define as the suffocating confines of home where he was once feted for his warrior spirit but now ridiculed for overstepping the mark.
De Rossi’s demeanour suggests that he has had to face up to the fact that he must enter adulthood
He lifted the lid on the double-edge world of football most recently after another errant elbow had left an opponent clutching his face in pain, with the lament, “they used to treat me like their own and tell me to throw another elbow but now they distance themselves from me.”
Born in the hardcore Roma suburb of coastal Ostia, it could only ever be the Giallorossi for the fair-haired youngster - whose father Alberto led the youth team to the title this year - who started out as a striker before his physical attributes and neat touch found a more natural outlet in midfield where he made his first-team debut in 2001.
“The things I do are instinctive and you ask me to set an example but look at where we play football, in crumbling stadiums where violence is part of the afternoon"
However, always further down the road to legendary status in the Capital was Francesco Totti who continues to exert an iron grip over the club and the feeling is that as long as il capitano is there then De Rossi will remain an ever-more brooding figure in the shadows.
Born in the hardcore Roma suburb of coastal Ostia, it could only ever be the Giallorossi for the fair-haired youngster - whose father Alberto led the youth team to the title this year
While Totti has played it to perfection – family man, hero to the masses; his fellow Roman has seen his marriage fall apart, dragged into the headlines away from the sports pages when his father-in-law was found dead, the victim of an apparent gangland revenge killing - and then those ever-increasing on-pitch incidents when the red mist descends and the elbows starting flailing.
Totti has had his fair share of red cards but at times one gets the feeling that they are calculated to play to the stands, but with De Rossi they arrive out of the heat of the battle for domination in the centre of pitch.
“Do I have to win a match or set a good example?” he recently questioned journalists. “The things I do are instinctive and you ask me to set an example but look at where we play football, in crumbling stadiums where violence is part of the afternoon – it is Italian football that does not set a good example."
Clearly these are not the musings of your over-pampered footballer star, but of someone who has had his eyes opened to wilder issues through his own experiences as well as devouring the articles of Roberto Saviano, the journalist and author of Gomorrah.
De Rossi they arrive out of the heat of the battle for domination in the centre of pitch
A new convert to independent films ... “I was touched by Of Gods and Men ...” as well as the music of Mumford and Sons, “I liked Oasis for a long time and still listen to them and then I got into listening to my father’s Bob Dylan records …” after his separation he moved into the historic centre, a few minute’s walk from Campo de’ Fiori where every morning the piazza is alive to the earthy smells and the local dialect of the colourful fruit and vegetable market.
It can still be described as a no-nonsense area where a local boy can enjoy a beer or coffee amongst his own – and it was where De Rossi relaxed the morning after the last derby win, Roma shirt under his sweat-top as he joked with some Lazio fans; his mood darkened only when those fierce old rivals admitted that victory would have been theirs if Totti had been wearing sky blue.
The city is in his blood and with all Romans it would tear him apart to leave but to find true peace of mind and reach his full potential it may be time to say Arrivederci Roma, Buongiorno Manchester…
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