Daniele De Rossi has admitted leaving Roma last summer did cross his mind, while his manager confirmed there was a late move for the midfielder from Manchester United.
The Premier League champions came looking and Roma entertained their offer for a player whose identification with the club and their fans suffered during a testing campaign, but defeat to city rivals Lazio in the Coppa Italia final left the Italy international with one score still to settle. [The prospect of] jumping the nest after such a result ultimately convinced him to stay.
"This year, when I spoke to the coach, when I spoke to the club, it was the first time I told them that I would have liked to listen to any offers while in previous years, I had always turned down any approach before even listening to it," De Rossi told a media conference. "This year, I felt it could be the right year to change because things did not go so well.
"There were lots of things which did not go well, but maybe there was one thing even greater which was not on for me: I could not contemplate my last game in a Roma shirt being that derby. That is the one thing I could not stomach. I could imagine myself in any other club in the world, lifting any trophy, but to think that my last game in a Roma shirt was a derby defeat in the Coppa Italia final... that would have been wrong."
Just a few words with new coach Rudi Garcia were also enough to convince the 30-year-old to put right the wrongs from last season, something he has set about doing in style so far this term for the table-toppers.
"The first time I spoke to him on the phone, I was on holiday and I could feel that he saw me as one of his players, regardless of what the rest of the world was saying at the time. He treated me like one of his own. I like the feeling of belongingness he had," De Rossi said.
That phone call appears to have inspired De Rossi to rediscover some of his best form, silencing the critics, many close to the Eternal City club, who suggested he was past his best.
"The Daniele who’s been playing with us since the start of the season is one of the best midfielders in Europe," Garcia told L’Equipe. "People have said to me that he was no longer the same player (as last season).
"This summer we discussed his future. He’s Roman, he’s from here, but there were big clubs after him and he was waiting to see. I said to him that I couldn’t lose him at the last minute so we fixed a date after which he would not move.
"And that’s exactly what happened. The first league match came and a few days after Manchester United called the club, called him, but the date had passed and he didn’t move."
Roma are reaping the benefits of that deadline passing and enjoying probably the only good thing to come from that derby defeat which hurt in so many other ways.