Why Mario Rui’s devastating injury is such a big loss for Roma
Despite him suffering a devastating ACL injury in training on Friday, acquiring the experienced, battle-hardened Mario Rui from Empoli for an initial loan fee of just €3 million is unquestionably still a superb piece of business by AS Roma.
Having developed his craft at the academies of Sporting CP, Valencia and Benfica, Rui finally made his professional debut at Portuguese side Fatima in 2010, while on loan from Benfica.
Parma then signed him for €595,000 on a five-year contract in 2012 and sent him out on loan to Gubbio and Spezia for the following two seasons. Empoli, then in the Serie B, quickly took their opportunity to get him, paying just €550,000 to secure the talented fullback in 2013.
In his overwhelmingly successful three year stint at Empoli, Rui's exceptional form helped the club achieve promotion in his first year and he went onto to play a crucial role in ensuring the Azzurri consolidated their position in the top flight.
Working under the excellent Maurizio Sarri, now of Napoli, and Marco Giampaolo, who's since moved to Sampdoria, did wonders for his progression, and there's no reason to suggest Roma’s brilliant tactician, Luciano Spalletti, won't be able to do the same.
Importantly, Rui, who gained 70 matches worth of Serie A experience at Empoli, shouldn't have too many problems integrating into life at his new club when he returns in around six months time. Moreover, the fact he's now 25, and has played for almost 10 different clubs, means he's very accustomed to transitioning into new surroundings.
He'd encouragingly already spoken of how well he was settling in at his new home, saying: “It’s wonderful to arrive at a club like Roma. My teammates immediately helped me feel at ease and I thank them for that."
In a purely football sense, it's easy to see why Spalletti was so keen to bring in the Portuguese left-back, for he possesses just about all the attributes you want in a player of his position. To start with, his strength and low centre of gravity make him a hugely challenging man to outmuscle. Couple this with his wicked acceleration, aggression, tenacity and intensity, and it's unsurprising that he's rarely beaten in physical duels.
Rui also mixes intelligence with the aforementioned robust facets of his game swimmingly, with his capacity to read the game and make excellent decisions guaranteeing he commits very few errors.
On the attacking end, he's just as effective. Rui loves marauding forward to join in attacks, where he can then use his technical proficiency to drive at opponents, whip in precise crosses or pinpoint a target with a more deft pass along the carpet.
Having already got off to a solid start in Roma's preseason, his injury unquestionably came at a horrible time, but Rui's dynamism and all-action style, on both sides of the ball, will be a real weapon for Roma in the future.
Once the former Portugal youth international comes back you can guarantee he'll be desperate to make the most of his incredible opportunity at Roma. "This is the chance of a lifetime and I really didn’t expect the call from such a big club. I can and must improve in every aspect, but I am only 25, so that’s natural. I will try to write my history for the club," he insisted.
With time, talent and an exemplary attitude on his side, expect Rui to repay the Giallorossi's faith whenever he puts on that famous Roma jersey.
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