Wednesday, 22 May 2013

Bourne's Season Review Part Two : Centre Backs

Part Two : Centre-Backs

Valerio di Cesare, 9 appearances, 0 goals, vote 6.5
I was highly sceptical about Di Cesare’s ability to adjust to Serie A and despite Ventura’s public faith in the player, a total of 9 appearances – five full matches - suggests the coach had some reservations too. Making his top-flight debut at the age of 29 against Udinese in September, Di Cesare can take comfort from the quality of his performances. A poor display in a collective shambles at home to Milan aside, he didn’t disfigure. An old school defender who can mix composure on the ball with cynical fouls and a peppering of play-acting, Di Cesare is one of the team’s more charismatic figures. His performance in a three-man defence away at Milan demonstrated that in one-off matches he can cut it at this level. Over the course of a season, I have my doubts.

Verdict: His contract has another year to run. Likely to be used as bate in the summer transfer market, most probably with Serie B clubs. Potentially will be retained if Ventura moves to a 3-5-2 formation but an uncertain summer lies ahead. The club did their best to offload him last summer.

Kamil Glik, 32 appearances, 1 goal, vote 6.5
A curva favourite and cutting aside suspensions, a virtual ever-present. Has broken into the Poland team since Euro 2012 and marked his emergence as an international player with a goal against England. Plays the ‘stopper’ in the Toro defence to Ogbonna’s more cultured and composed play. The Pole can be pleased with his season and providing his contractual situation with Palermo is resolved is likely to be a certain starter next season, potentially club captain. The 25-year old had a few moments to forget though, notably sendings off in both Turin derbies and a tendency to give away cheap penalties and lose concentration. A threat in the opposition box, Glik is destined to be an asset to the club and likely to have matured from this season’s experience.

Verdict: Will be a key figure again next year. Palermo unlikely to cause problems regarding his contract

Angelo Ogbonna, 23 appearances, 0 goals, vote 6
The most highly-rated Toro player coming into the season following a stellar promotion campaign and international recognition. Toro resisted offers for their vice-captain in the summer, although the reality is that in the current economic climate no Italian club could meet the market value and Ogbonna has often displayed a reluctance to move abroad. Ventura convinced the 24-year old that a full season in Serie A under his tutelage would benefit his career. A year on, Ogbonna’s economic value has potentially decreased - or at least stalled - and the club seem prepared to cash in. Supporters are often critical of his ‘dissidence’ and friendship with some of the Juventus players, preferring the more grintoso personality of Glik and Rodriguez. Personally, I find the criticism unfair. Ogbonna’s season has been far from disastrous. It started brightly and the team’s poor defensive record in the second half of the season is largely down to his injuries and struggle to regain form afterwards. A horrible performance against Cagliari aside – two penalties conceded and a red card – Ogbonna’s season was simply in line with the team itself. It was surprising Ventura didn’t occasionally deploy Ogbonna at left-back or in midfield during injury crisis’, considering the team’s strength in the centre of defence.

Verdict: Noises suggest Ogbonna won’t be at Torino next year. Fans will accept his sale providing the price is good and he doesn’t move across the city. Personally, I will be sad to see him leave although his importance on the team has diminished. As vice-captain he often cut a reluctant leader.

Guillermo Rodriguez, 22 appearances, 0 goals, vote 7
Another low-key, uninspiring summer signing. The former Penarol man had just been relegated from Serie A after a brief spell with Cesena. Seemed destined to spend most of the season on the bench but following his debut away at Palermo in week 8, became a regular filling in mainly for the injured Ogbonna. One of the success stories of the season. Committed, strong in the tackle and possessing decent positional sense, the former Uruguayan international – last cap in 2005 – rarely let the side down aside from the occasional exposure to pace (most embarrassingly against a 40-year old Javier Zanetti). A fans’ favourite, doubts remain whether he is a top-quality reserve or deserved starter.

Verdict: His contract is rolling down but a two-year option lies on the table. Given the likely departure of Ogbonna, his permanence is advised.

Overall verdict: Glik and Rodriguez are likely to be Toro players next season. Ogbonna’s sale will bring in much-needed financial muscle which needs to be invested in the attacking third. Two new centre-backs are required – preferably faster and more ball-playing alternatives to Glik and Rodriguez. Ventura seems keen on a 3-5-2 next season in which case he will need to bring in a ‘libero’ and consider utilising Matteo Darmian at centre-back. 
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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