From Dybala to Abraham: The Tops and Flops of Roma in 2022/23

Following an exciting first season for José Mourinho in the Italian capital, his second term at Roma couldn’t recapture the same magic, albeit the club came extremely close to lifting another European trophy.

Realistically speaking, the Giallorossi don’t possess the tools to impose themselves in the Scudetto race, despite the enchanting arrival of Paulo Dybala last summer. Nevertheless, their fans would have appreciated a more serious onslaught on the Top Four spots.

However, the club’s Champions League hopes solely relied on winning the Europa League, a feat that they were on the verge of achieving before succumbing to the competition’s favorite sons Sevilla who prevailed on penalty shootouts.

Therefore, Roma must carefully assess their players ahead of the summer transfer campaign before addressing their most pressing needs. But, in the meantime, let’s try to identify their best and worst performers of the 2022/23 campaign in our latest edition of the Tops and Flops series (You can also check out the Milan and Napoli editions).

Flop #3: Tammy Abraham

In earnest, this wasn’t a disastrous campaign for Tammy Abraham by any means. The Englishman collected nine goals and seven assists across all competitions. But this is where we must reiterate that the definition of a “Flop” is someone who falls short of expectations.

Last season, the 25-year-old was the toast of the town at the Olimpico Stadium, immediately cementing himself as the new adopted son of Rome in what was almost a free-scoring campaign on both domestic and European scenes. But this term, the former Chelsea man struggled for form and consistency while enduring several goal droughts.

Sadly for the former Chelsea striker, his campaign ended in the worst possible manner by sustaining a horrific ACL injury on the last day of the campaign.

Hopefully, he’ll be back stronger than ever by 2024.

Top #3: Nemanja Matic

Last summer, Georginio Wijnaldum was the high-profile acquisition in the midfield department, while Nemanja Matic was deemed to be an extra piece to bolster the squad’s depth. Nevertheless, a devastating injury for the Dutchman left the department in disarray, but luckily for Mourinho, his old Chelsea and Manchester United soldier rose to the rescue.

Despite reaching his mid-thirties, the Serbian still has the tenacity, determination and physical attributes that allow him to cope with younger opponents, while his move to the relatively slower Italian football certainly helped his case.

Flop #2: Roger Ibanez

On his day, Roger Ibanez can be one of the most impressive defenders in the league. The Brazilian is fast, powerful and solid at the back. However, his knack for committing howlers is becoming unbearable for Roma.

At the age of 24, the center-back is no longer a youngster, so the club simply can’t afford to tolerate his recurring blunders. To make matters worse, Ibanez often picks the worst time to commit a mistake. He did so on the two Derby della Capitale editions of the season, so much so that he became a fan favorite among the more sarcastic section of Lazio supporters!

Picking up some defensive reinforcement is a must for the Giallorossi this summer.

Top #2: Chris Smalling

Despite celebrating his 33rd birthday, Chris Smalling is still improving his game. The veteran defender served Roma valiantly at the back, acting as the Bona Fide leader of the defensive bunch.

The former Manchester United player even showcased his prowess in front of goal by bagging three goals in Serie A. But more than anything else, it was his absence that highlighted his importance for the team, as the Romans’ form and results completely deteriorated when he was out of action between April and May.

If he ends up leaving the club in the summer as a free agent, it would be a damaging blow for La Magica.

Flop #1: Rick Karsdorp

Last season, Rick Karsdorp was considered to be among the most reliable wingbacks in Serie A. While no one ever called him “World Class”, the Dutchman was decent enough to offer insurance on the right flank.

However, the former Feyenoord man pulled off the type of suicidal stunts that can ruin a man’s career, especially with a bemused Mourinho watching on the sidelines.

The 29-year-old clashed heads with the Special One who accused him of lack of professionalism in some carefree outings, which spelled the end of his days as a Roma starter.

Sadly for Karsdorp, just when he was starting to reconcile with his manager, a knee injury put an abrupt end to what was a disastrous campaign on all levels.

Honorable Mention: Leonardo Spinazzola

Was it Leonardo Spinazzola’s best season at Roma? Probably not. Yet, the Euro 2020 hero made his return from a devastating injury to swiftly reclaim his spot as the team’s most reliable wingback.

This remarkable achievement shouldn’t be overlooked, and it’s enough to warrant an honorable mention.

Flop Signing: Andrea Belotti

After failing to find the back of the net in 31 Serie A appearances, Andrea Belotti ought to be the biggest flop at Roma this season. However, the Italian striker hasn’t been in scintillating form for the past few seasons at Torino, so his struggles at Roma shouldn’t come as a major surprise to anyone who’s been following his career progress (or more accurately regress).

While some center forwards hit their peaks in their thirties, it feels that Il Gallo’s best days are behind him despite being only 29 years of age.

What a sad career demise.

Top #1: Paulo Dybala

Truth be told, this has to be one of the easiest picks of the series. When Paulo Dybala closed a Juventus chapter that lasted for seven years to join Roma, the Giallorossi faithful greeted him with an epic reception, arguably the greatest in the sport’s history.

So while returning the favor was never an easy task, the Argentine reminded the world of his elegant talent and supreme technical qualities. With 18 goals and eight assists across all competitions, La Joya cemented himself as the undisputed talisman at Trigoria and the biggest attraction in the Eternal City.

Even though a few injury setbacks derailed his momentum at times, it remains a successful first campaign for the World Cup winner at Roma, even if the club fell short of reaching its objectives.

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