This has been a rough season for myriad reasons, but it’s still hard for me to wish that it be over. Because when it ends, that means that Gonzalo Rodríguez will walk away from Fiorentina, ending a 4-year Viola career and leaving behind the captain’s armband along with one of the more impressive legacies that a defender has ever created in Florence.
How impressive? First of all, let’s keep in mind that Gonzalo joined Fiorentina for an outrageous €1.5 million. Almost immediately, he became the soul of the team, his grit and commitment to the cause a perfect yang to Borja Valero’s imperturbable midfield yin. He was rewarded with the captaincy after Paulo Sousa froze Manuel Pasqual out (still seething about that one), cementing his status as one of the leaders of the team.
In his 199 appearances thus far, he’s scored an eye-popping 24 goals and added 6 assists, which is good for 0.15 goals per match. And yes, that is just as crazy at it sounds. He’s currently 20th in Viola history in appearances, right behind Borja. If you only count outfield players, Gonzalo is 16th in appearances, 7th among defenders, and 3rd among centerbacks. He only trails Gabriel Batistuta and Sébastien Frey in appearances for a non-Italian player.
Add in his penchant for dramatic goals, his relationship and child with a local entrepreneusse, and his take-no-prisoners defensive style, and it’s little wonder that he’s already one of the all-time club greats. Consider this the first stanza of what will doubtless be a lengthy and heartfelt elegy for him, as he’ll be gone forever in just 8 matches.