How can Daniele De Rossi influence Boca Juniors?
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Legends are not simply named, but rather forged over time. Daniele De Rossi gave AS Roma 18 years. A hometown lad, born in Rome, he fought to make his club the best in Italy. The 36-year-old tasted some success, winning two Coppa Italias and one Supercoppa Italiana. Now he faces an altogether different challenge at Boca Juniors.
Francesco Totti retired in May 2017. It was an early sign Roma's old-guard was changing. De Rossi commands the same admiration, having made 616 appearances. Playing over 150 those games in declining post-30s merits both club and Serie A icon status. A lack of silverware doesn't detract from that. His heart will forever beat for the Giallorossi.
De Rossi has decided to take one final step. For the first time in his career, it doesn't include Roma. Totti retired as a one-club man, which many believe is the purest football status to behold.
De Rossi wanted to test his mettle overseas. Prior to the move, he spoke about feeling a connection to Boca Juniors. In addition to that admiration, the midfielder mentioned his high regard for former Argentina teammate Nicolas Burdisso, who is currently Boca's sporting director. These media messages led to him signing two weeks ago.
The average Boca Juniors player is under 27 and Argentinian. It begs the question, what can De Rossi, a veteran Italian, offer them?
The most obvious answer: he's another body. The South American circuit is ruthless with its scheduling. Every Argentine Primera Division team must navigate 23 regular-season matches, an additional 11 Copa de la Superliga games, as well as a domestic cup. The best sides also trek around the continent to compete in various tournaments.
Example. Boca fly to Ecuador to take on LDU Quito a week on Wednesday. Four days later, they have a home Buenos Aires derby against Banfield. Then, roughly 72 hours after, it's the return leg against the Ecuadorians. If that wasn't enough, three days later, Los Xeneizes face arch-rivals River Plate.
Enduring all this will tire Boca's playing personnel. Even professional footballers succumb to exhaustion. De Rossi, or anyone coming in, allows head coach Gustavo Alfaro more rotation options. That's paramount to a club which faces three games in one week including a 12-hour commute.
Doubtlessly, De Rossi offers wisdom. While not a coach, the younger players will simply idolise the 2006 World Cup winner, treating him like a beacon. By the same token, he presents that experience. Boca’s registered midfielders are for the most part very young. His tutelage will ensure they mature.
Last season, Boca were criticised for not stopping opposition attacks from forming. They conceded 18 goals, two more than champions Racing Club. In such a competitive league atop the table, this made a difference. Los Xeneizes had to settle for third.
De Rossi can remedy that. In Serie A, he quashed enemy attacks with little hesitation. Fabled for his blocks, interceptions and passing, the Rome native was the catalyst in turning defence into attack. In Superliga Argentina, a competition which is neither as accurate with its passing nor as adventurous with its shooting, his advancing years shouldn't prove a hindrance. The quality around will foster the evergreen ability within him.
De Rossi's signed a one-year contract at Boca Juniors. It should be long enough for him to receive sufficient minutes. Having not qualified for a medal when Roma won Serie A in his first season, can he finally secure a league title?
The initial omens are promising. Boca have opened with four points in two matches, without conceding. Once De Rossi enters the fray, their chances can only improve.