Friday, 24 May 2013

Bourne's Season Review Part Four : Central Midfielders

Part Four : Central Midfielders

Marko Bakic, 1 appearance, 0 goals, no vote
One of the interesting young foreign players on Toro’s books. The 19-year old is already a full Montenegrin international and arrived in the summer with a promising reputation. If there has been little fanfare about the young playmaker then there is good reason. He is half-owned by Fiorentina and following the ill-fated experience with a young Kwadwo Asamoah (who went on to fame at Udinese), the feeling is that if Bakic emerges as a player he will soon be wearing a purple shirt. Sat on the bench 18 times before making his first appearance, when he looked a little overwhelmed making his debut at home to Catania. A victim of the club’s inability to secure survival earlier in the season.

Verdict: Has not shown enough to warrant a first-team place. A year long loan in Serie B may help him realise his potential

Migjen Basha, 21 appearances, 1 goal, vote 6.5
A frankly strange season for the 26-year old Swiss-born Albania international. Following a timid start and a scattering of appearances, Ventura axed him completely in the New Year following Matteo Brighi’s return to form. Basha spent nine games rooted to the bench before returning to favour and enjoying a positive run-in. The ex-Atalanta man has shown enough this season to warrant a further chance in Serie A. Age is on his side, he is rarely injured and his athleticism and determination are commendable assets. Unlike most of his midfield counterparts, he is occasionally a goal threat. An unglamourous but useful option.

Verdict: Under contract until 2015 and his permanence will allow for some stability in a midfield which is due an overhaul.

Matteo Brighi, 23 appearances, 2 goals, vote 6.5
The most talented, experienced and fragile of the Toro midfield. With over 300 Serie A appearances under his belt, Brighi’s arrival last summer offered an inexperienced side some guidance. His season – a little like his career – was interrupted by injuries and the struggle to overcome them. Brighi’s best period of form arrived after the New Year when a series of commanding performances led the side to their best run of the season. This commenced with his goal in the crucial 3-2 win over Siena where his provocative celebration suggested a difficult relationship with Ventura.

Verdict: At 32 and on loan from Roma, it is difficult seeing Toro making a financial commitment to a player so unreliable physically. A replacement for Brighi is most likely to come from a fresh loan move. In many ways, a pity.

Alessandro Gazzi, 32 appearances, 2 goals, vote 7
Toro’s 14-month pursuit of Gazzi ended last summer when Ventura was finally reunited with his former Bari soldier. Signed for a sizeable fee from Siena, Gazzi proved to be one of the signings of the season offering some solidity, consistency and quality in a weak and continually rotating midfield. A tough-tackling holding midfielder, his energy galvanised the team in the early part of the season where he showed a surprise ability to get among the goals (against Atalanta and Chievo). During the final weeks of the season, the 30-year old seemed to run out of gas perhaps a sign that next season Ventura needs to balance his resources better. Will be a pleasure seeing him play alongside a genuine regista.

Verdict: One of Ventura’s favourite players and the fans too. An unassuming and likeable character and one of the best signings of the Ventura and maybe even Cairo era. A certain starter in 2013-14.

Sergiu Suciu, 1 appearance, 0 goals, no vote
The 23-year old Romanian is one of the most vaunted products of the Toro youth team but bad luck with injuries (two cruciate ligament breaks in 2011-12) have disrupted his career. Given 11 minutes of Serie A football against Siena, he was loaned to Juve Stabia to aid is rehabilitation. In Serie B he featured intermittently showing some of the driving midfield play that has encouraged scouts.

Verdict: Perhaps needs another full season in Serie B although the club will most likely review his progress in pre-season.

Giuseppe Vives, 25 appearances, 0 goals, vote 5.5
One of a clutch of players who I felt didn’t need to be retained at the start of the season. In Ventura’s preferred 4-2-4 formation he has often been a hard player to accommodate. The former Lecce captain lacks the physicality and presence to play in a two-man midfield and when deployed on the left-wing has a tendency to drift into his preferred position of inside left. It was there during the promotion season and when Ventura adopts an occasional 4-3-3 that he plays his best football. Vives has essentially been a squad player who in a midfield bereft of quality has played far more football than he may have expected. Like Masiello, he is a top half of Serie B player, and while he didn’t let the team down there is no major evidence of the quality he brings.

Verdict: Rumours link him with Palermo where Toro have negotiations pending. Highly likely to find himself at a progressive Serie B club next year.

Overall Verdict: Gazzi will be a mainstay of next year’s team in either a two or three-man midfield. Basha is a reliable back-up. At least three new quality midfielders are needed unless Ventura is ready to gamble on the emergence of Bakic or Suciu.

Peter is the author of the outstanding Torino book 'Passion in the Piazza' which is available on Amazon, and you can follow him on Twitter here.

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