Sometimes footballers can become as famous for their social media activity as their performances on the pitch – take Marten de Roon, for example.
The Dutchman’s self-deprecating tweets as he pokes fun at various photos of himself became a highlight of Atalanta’s post-match reaction. Because of this, it’s easy to forget that the midfielder is the linchpin of one of Europe’s most entertaining teams.
The former Middlesbrough man’s quality performances with Atalanta have not gone unnoticed, leading a number of European heavyweights to show interest in acquiring his services. 90 mins exclusively revealed recently that Tottenham and Manchester City have added their names to the long list of potential suitors.
But what exactly could he bring to the pair as they look to step up a load for the Premier League title? And should they be put off by his disappointing fate on Teesside in 2016/17?
When De Roon arrived at Riverside shortly after the club were promoted back to the top flight, he was seen as a brand signing. However, his time at the club never really took off as Boro suffered a relegation to the league.
So if he is this well, so why did Middlesbrough fall? Easy – in a way that it was too good, and his success was ultimately his downfall.
De Roon’s ability to break up play is fantastic, although he can also pose a goal threat and produce breathtaking runs. But no team can expect a single player to do all of the aforementioned jobs – Boro did, and they ultimately blunted his main qualities.
At Atalanta, the midfielder is plying his trade alongside players far better than those he played with at Boro, meaning he is not asked to do three tasks in one and can focus on the cancellation of the threat caused by the opposition.
He is not expected to score ten goals per season, which means he can focus on energy and courage in midfield.
He still sometimes leaps forward and looks to support the attack – scoring eight league goals in his three-and-a-half years with Atalanta, although when you consider the free-scoring team have scored 260 goals. in Serie A during that time you realize how much he contributes.
The interest expressed by Manchester City may shock some. Pep Guardiola has always had a world-class “keeper” in the midfield – be it Thiago or Sergio Busquets – which he tried to replicate with the purchase of Rodri from City.
However, De Roon’s pursuit may signal a slight change in ethics from the former Barca boss. City have found themselves running games regularly in recent seasons, but Rodri’s inability to step up his game has seen games pass them.
While De Roon may not be as technically savvy as the former Atletico Madrid man, he would deliver an urgency and dynamism that City midfielder was sometimes sorely lacking.
A move to Spurs makes a lot more sense on paper. Jose Mourinho built his squad around combative and energetic midfielders in Moussa Sissoko and Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg, but with the former now 31, De Roon would represent a somewhat younger option, while still being able to carry a bigger goal. threat – something that seems to have disappeared from the Frenchman’s game.
It may appear that De Roon has been forced to rebuild his career after a rather abject stint in the Premier League, although in truth he has done absolutely nothing wrong with Teesside, leaving with the best wishes of the Middlesbrough loyalists.
Now he’s been given a more streamlined role in Serie A, he proves how fantastic he can be, and in a Manchester City or Tottenham side full of stellar names, he could turn out to be a real success. in England.