Football Features

Where are they now? The last Roma side to make the Europa League Round of 16

By Harry Edwards

The last Roma side to make the Europa League last 16 - where are they now?

Published: 15:55, 28 March 2020 | Updated: 13:55, 14 June 2020

Roma are perhaps the biggest Italian club still awaiting silverware in Uefa club competition.

They finished runners-up in the 1983/84 European Cup and 1990/91 Uefa Cup, losing to Liverpool and Inter Milan respectively. A semi-final appearance in the 2017/18 Champions League is the most recent highlight. Predominantly because of the dramatic Barcelona comeback completed by Kostas Manolas, who – in the words of BT commentator Peter Drury – “[came] to the Seven Hills of Rome and pulled off miracle.”

The current season, if eventually resumed, still presents a chance to go further and parade a Uefa trophy through those ‘Seven Hills’.

Although fifth in Serie A, Roma remain in the Europa League after finishing second in their group behind Istanbul Basaksehir to set up a last-32 tie with Gent. A 2-1 aggregate win secured a spot in the last 16, where Roma will face Sevilla. The tough task of going all the way is reflected in the 16/1* odds SBK given them in terms of winning the 2019/20 Europa League outright.

The last time Roma made it to the last 16 of the Europa League came in 2016/17, a relatively momentous season for the capital club.

They finished second in Serie A, said farewell to Luciano Spalletti and club legend Francesco Totti, and Edin Dzeko was having a ball.

But where are the key members of that 2017 Roma side now? We’ve taken a look at those who featured at least twice for Roma in the 2016/17 Europa League campaign.

*Odds by SBK and accurate at time of writing (18:34, 27/03/20).

You have to be 18+ and Gamble Aware to sign up to SBK. Odds below accurate at the time of writing. 

Alisson

Age: 27
Position: Goalkeeper
2016/17 Europa League appearances: 10
Current club: Liverpool

Roma were blessed in terms goalkeepers in 2016/17. Alisson started in the Europa League to allow first-choice shot-stopper Wojciech Szczesny a break, although he did remain on the bench.

Alisson eventually replaced Szczesny as Roma’s number one after the Poland international’s move to Juventus before leaving himself in 2018 to join Liverpool. In just under two years at Anfield, Alisson has already won the Champions League and is closing in on a Premier League title. He is widely regarded as the best goalkeeper in England, if not the world.

Antonio Rudiger

Age: 27
Position: Centre-back
2016/17 Europa League appearances: 5
Current club: Chelsea

Antonio Rudiger missed the start of Roma’s Europa League season as he recovered from a knee injury but returned to play five games, winning on all four of his starts in the competition.

Having become a key member of Roma’s defence, Rudiger left the club shortly after the end of the 2016/17 season, joining Chelsea where he is now the senior centre-back option under Frank Lampard.

Kostas Manolas

Age: 28
Position: Centre-back
2016/17 Europa League appearances: 7
Current club: Napoli

One of Rudiger’s partners for the 2016/17 season, Kostas Manolas was virtually irreplaceable at the heart of Roma’s defence, playing 45 games across all competitions.

Manolas wrote his name into Roma folklore the following campaign, scoring against Barcelona to complete the comeback and send the Stadio Olimpico into raptures. But for some, Manolas’ standing in Roma hearts has been tarnished by his move to Napoli.

Emerson

Age: 25
Position: Left-back
2016/17 Europa League appearances: 5
Current club: Chelsea

When Emerson kicked off the 2016/17 Europa League campaign with Roma, he was only on loan from Santos, making the move permanent midway through the season.

But the Brazilian-born Italy international would only stay with Roma for another year, signing for Antonio Conte’s Chelsea in January 2018, enjoying a spell as the club’s first-choice left-back.

Alessandro Florenzi

Age: 29
Position: Right-back
2016/17 Europa League appearances: 3
Current club: Valencia

Alessandro Florenzi started the 2016/17 campaign as Roma’s first-choice right-back, but his season was cut short in October as he suffered a cruciate ligament injury.

The defender returned the following season and once again became a key member of the Roma squad for the next two campaigns. He was  even named captain at the start of 2019/20, but Florenzi left Roma for Valencia in the January 2020 transfer window and has endured a stuttering start to life in Spain.

Mario Rui

Age: 28
Position: Left-back
2016/17 Europa League appearances: 2
Current club: Napoli

Mario Rui was another Roma player to suffer a cruciate ligament injury during this campaign, carrying it over from the previous season. He returned in 2017 but featured sporadically including two Europa League appearances.

The full-back left Roma for Napoli at the end of the season, initially on loan before making the move permanently six months later. Rui remains at Napoli and is the club’s first-choice left-back.

Juan Jesus

Age: 28
Position: Centre-back
2016/17 Europa League appearances: 8
Current club: Roma

Juan Jesus spent the 2016/17 season on loan at Roma from Inter Milan, appearing both at centre-back and left-back across the campaign.

The Brazilian impressed and his loan deal was made permanently, helping to fill the gap left by Rudiger’s departure that summer. Juan Jesus is still a Roma player but has featured just four times in 2019/20 and was an unused substitute on 26 occasions.

Federico Fazio

Age: 33
Position: Centre-back
2016/17 Europa League appearances: 8
Current club: Roma

Like Juan Jesus, Federico Fazio was only on loan at Roma in the 2016/17 campaign, having joined from Tottenham. He missed just six games for Roma in all competitions, completing the centre-back trio alongside Rudiger and Manolas.

Fazio is still a useful member of the Roma squad this season, playing 19 times across all competitions, although his campaign has been slightly hampered through injury problems.

Bruno Peres

Age: 30
Position: Right-back
2016/17 Europa League appearances: 9
Current club: Roma

Yet another loanee, Bruno Peres joined Roma for the 2016/17 season from Torino and was particularly key in the Europa League, missing just one game.

His performances earned a permanent move but things haven’t really clicked for the Brazilian, with loans to Sao Paulo and Recife over the past few seasons. However, he has played eight times since returning to Roma in January 2020.

Thomas Vermaelen

Age: 34
Position: Centre-back
2016/17 Europa League appearances: 2
Current club: Vissel Kobe

Thomas Vermaelen floated into obscurity after joining Barcelona, with whom his time was ravaged by injuries. The Belgian spent the 2016/17 season on loan at Roma but was restricted to 12 appearances across all competitions due to injury problems.

Vermaelen returned to Barcelona and spent another two years with the club before making the move to Japan, signing for Vissel Kobe.

Leandro Paredes

Age: 25
Position: Central midfielder
2016/17 Europa League appearances: 8
Current club: Paris Saint-Germain

At the base of Roma’s midfielder was Leandro Paredes, who was building a name for himself as a young member of the team and played eight times in the Europa League.

But Paredes’ Roma tenure came to an end in the summer of 2017 when he moved to Zenit. After two years in Russia, Paredes became one of the most highly sought-after midfielders with Paris Saint-Germain winning the battle for his signature.

Radja Nainggolan

Age: 31
Position: Central midfielder
2016/17 Europa League appearances: 10
Current club: Cagliari

Another key member of Roma’s midfield, Radja Nainggolan was an ever-present in the Europa League, starting seven of his 10 appearances – although he wasn’t able to carry his goalscoring form from Serie A over.

Despite constantly being linked with a move away from Roma, Nainggolan stayed for another season before joining Inter Milan in 2018. He’s currently on loan with Cagliari for the season.

Gerson

Age: 22
Position: Central midfielder
2016/17 Europa League appearances: 6
Current club: Flamengo

A young member of Roma’s squad at the time, Gerson was handed playing time in the Europa League group stages, starting three matches – with the competition bringing half of his total appearances that campaign.

Gerson featured more often the following season, although often as a substitute before being loaned to Fiorentina for the 2018/19 campaign. The Brazilian midfielder is now with Flamengo having joined in the summer of 2019.

Kevin Strootman

Age: 30
Position: Central midfielder
2016/17 Europa League appearances: 7
Current club: Marseille

Often joining Radja Nainggolan in midfield was Kevin Strootman, ever-reliable and a big part of this Roma side.

Like Nainggolan, Strootman was often subject to interest from elsewhere including Manchester United, but he stayed put for another year, eventually joining Marseille in 2018.

Daniele De Rossi

Age: 36
Position: Central midfielder
2016/17 Europa League appearances: 6
Current club: Retired

One of two Mr Romas in this side, Daniele De Rossi came through the club’s academy and was part of the first-team for 17 years. De Rossi only really came into Europa League action in the knockout stages, captaining Roma in the absence of their legend.

De Rossi eventually called time on his Roma career in 2019, spending six months with Boca Juniors and finally winning a league title, before retiring.

Mohamed Salah

Age: 27
Position: Right winger
2016/17 Europa League appearances: 6
Current club: Liverpool

The 2016/17 season was Mohamed Salah’s defining moment in a Roma shirt, scoring 19 goals in all competitions including two in the Europa League.

His performances earned the Egyptian a move to Liverpool. There, after initial doubts over his quality, Salah proved said doubters wrong. Salah has already won the Champions League while also scoring 91 goals in 144 games across all competitions for Jurgen Klopp’s side.

Stephan El Shaarawy

Age: 27
Position: Left winger
2016/17 Europa League appearances: 8
Current club: Shanghai Shenhua

When Stephan El Shaarawy joined Roma in 2016, there were hopes he could deliver on some of the promise he was yet to live up to after bursting onto the scene at AC Milan. And he did to an extent, scoring 12 goals in the 2016/17 campaign including two in the Europa League.

Another two good campaigns followed, but El Shaarawy put his European adventure on hold, joining Shanghai Shenhua in the summer of 2019.

Edin Dzeko

Age: 34
Position: Striker
2016/17 Europa League appearances: 8
Current club: Roma

Edin Dzeko has not had a better season at Roma than he did in 2016/17. In 51 games across all competitions, he scored 39 goals – eight of which came in the Europa League – to become just the fourth Roma player to reach 30 in a single season.

The Bosnian was then part of the Roma side that reached the Champions League semi-finals the following season, scoring eight goals in the European competition. And following De Rossi’s departure, Dzeko was named Roma captain.

Diego Perotti

Age: 31
Position: Left winger
2016/17 Europa League appearances: 7
Current club: Roma

In his first season with Roma, Diego Perotti was a regular in the side whether it be from the start or coming on as a substitute.

As some of Roma’s stars moved on, Perotti remained and became an increasingly integral part of the squad. Although injuries did largely limit his 2018/19 campaign.

Juan Iturbe

Age: 26
Position: Right winger
2016/17 Europa League appearances: 6
Current club: CF Pachuca

Juan Iturbe only spent the first half of the 2016/17 season with Roma, appearing in all of their Europa League group stage games before being loaned to Torino.

Another loan spell with Club Tijuana the following season resulted in Iturbe being sold to the Mexican club and, after a spell with UNAM, the 26-year-old is now with CF Pachuca.

Francesco Totti

Age: 43
Position: Striker
2016/17 Europa League appearances: 6
Current club: Retired

No player is more closely associated with Roma than Francesco Totti and, as previously mentioned, this was the Italian legend’s final year with the club and as a player before he retired.

Totti started four of his six Europa League appearances, more than he managed in Serie A, and although he did not score, he managed four assists. Only three teammates recorded more. He didn’t conclude his farewell campaign with glory in the form of a trophy, but Totti will forever be remembered as Roma’s man.

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