Kevin Strootman Has Only Himself to Blame

The good old days are gone for Kevin Strootman.
The good old days are gone for Kevin Strootman.
Amritangshu Bandyopadhyay

Kevin Strootman was one of the linchpins of AS Roma following his move from PSV Eindhoven back in the summer of 2013. He established himself as one of Serie A's top defensive midfielders within a couple of seasons.

In just 131 matches for AS Roma, Strootman played close to ten thousand minutes for the club. In that span, he also scored 13 goals apart from another 19 assists. He emerged as one of Luciano Spalleti's favorites during his time in Rome.

Marseille Offered Him Promise

Rudi Garcia vouched for his signature following his appointment at Olympique de Marseille. Garcia paired two newcomers, Duje Caleta-Car and Kevin Strootman, at the heart of Marseille's midfield. Despite Les Olympiens' struggles in the league, the pair proved rather formidable in the Europa League. While most Marseille faithful remember Florian Thauvin cajoling the opposition defenders en route to the 2018 Europa League final, the pair deserve equal recognition in subsequent 2018-19 season.

In the 2019-20 season, Andre Villas-Boas deployed Strootman as a single pivot in a 4-3-3 formation. The Dutchman proved instrumental in Marseille finishing second that season, behind Paris Saint-Germain. Les Olympiens finished the season with the fourth-best defensive record in the league, ahead of the likes of Nice and Monaco.

The Decline

At the start of the following season, Andre Villas-Boas opted for the same formation in the Champions League. If it did anything for Marseille that season, apart from their five defeats in six games, it was that it exposed Strootman's lack of physical presence on the field.

In the span of three months, Strootman was a different player. The 31-year-old's failure to backtrack Olympiacos centre-forward Ahmad Hassan in the dying minutes of the game handed Marseille their first defeat of the competition. Their second outing against FC Porto was a bigger disaster as they capitulated to a 3-0 defeat. The Dutchman struggled in the league as well before eventually getting dropped against Strasbourg.

Olympique Marseille president Pablo Longoria now working on many deals 🔵 #OMMattéo Guendouzi turned down Benfica as he wants to join OM. Pau López and Cengiz Ünder both expected to sign within this week. Lirola still among targets. Strootman leaves OM to join Cagliari on loan.

The frailties at the heart of the midfield forced Villas-Boas to alter their formation to a 5-3-2 against Manchester City. Boubacar Kamara was paired with Strootman to avoid embarrassment, albeit with no effect. Strootman's time was up and by January he was loaned off to Serie A side Genoa.

Strootman's route to obscurity

A half-a-season loan spell at Genoa was the final nail in the coffin. Strootman was again loaned off to Cagliari the following season, with Kamara emerging as a better talent in that position. He has certainly fallen down the ranks and is no longer required by Marseille.

Once a very promising and in-demand player, Strootman currently plies his trade not to the upper echelons of the division, but in a relegation-scarred outfit.

Edited by Shardul Sant
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