Saturday, 24 May 2014

Bourne's Player Review : Centre Backs

In order to celebrate what has been an excellent season, I invited Torino fan Peter Bourne to discuss each member of the member, with a focus on which players should be retained for next season.

Cesare Bovo (ITA, 31), 20 appearances, vote 7
Has always been a more than capable player but injuries have curtailed his career. Genova’s Marassi proved his unlucky venue this season, away at both Samp and former club Genoa he was stretched off and faced a spell on the sidelines. During the second half of the season, Bovo enjoyed an injury-free spell in the team notably when Nikola Maksimovic was switched to wingback. Bovo is easily the most comfortable of Toro’s centrebacks in possession and despite the ‘nil’ in his goal count, a frequent menace from dead ball situations.
Verdict: Now in his second spell at the club, Bovo has done enough to be retained for next season.

Kamil Glik (POL, 26), 34 appearances (2 goals), vote 7
Became the first foreign player to be appointed fulltime Torino captain last summer. I was not necessarily 100% behind the decision, but as a leader Glik has excelled, proving the doubters wrong and perfectly embodying the spirit of the club. This season he seems to have cut out some of the rush of blood moments (the two sendings off in the derby games last season which partly earned him cult status). Glik struggled initially in the three-man defence, his lack of pace exposed during the early weeks of the season. It’s easy to forget how porous Toro’s defence was in the opening part of the campaign. Like the team he adjusted to the new system becoming one of the cornerstones of the side. Sometimes poor decision-making lets him down, the crucial penalty conceded at home to Parma a case in point. One surprising fact, Glik often seems more comfortable zonal defending than man-marking.
Verdict: Building a decent reputation for himself and wouldn’t be surprised if soon he has suitors in the Bundesliga or Premier League. Seems happy in Turin though and likely to lead the team in 2014-15

Nikola Maksimovic (SRB, 22), 23 appearances, vote 7
An interesting signing by Petrachi, recruited in the summer from Red Star Belgrade. Maksimovic is included in the list of centrebacks despite playing much of the season out of position at right wing back. Like most overseas signings, ‘Makso’ was given time to adapt to the league and Ventura’s particular style of play. Tall but good on the ball, the young Serbian looked more comfortable at the heart of the defence and is definitely one for the future. At right wing back he performed admirably but doesn’t have the pace, crossing ability or guile to offer what is required in the final third.
Verdict: Initially signed on loan, the club are in the process of tying him down to a four year contract. Has caught the attention of richer clubs but is likely to need another full season or two to fully develop. Almost certain to be a starter next year.

Emiliano Moretti, (ITA, 32) 36 appearances (1 goal), vote 7,5
Arrived literally through the back door in the summer. On the day the team met for the summer ritiro, Moretti suddenly showed up, kit bag in hand, to everyone’s general surprise. Like Bovo and Immobile, arrived after a disappointing campaign with Genoa. Following long spells with the Rossoblu and Valencia, the 32-year old was ready for a change. Initially expected to provide experienced cover, it was soon clear Ventura had Moretti pencilled in a starter on the left hand side of the three man defence. Easily Toro’s most consistent and reliable defender, he added balance and calmness to the reaguard. Often a goal threat. His potentially winning strike in Florence, unfairly ruled out, would have been the crowning moment of an excellent season. One black spot was the unfortunate, and ultimately uncostly slip, which gave Catania a 1-0 lead in early April.
Verdict: Will be one of the first names on Ventura’s teamsheet next season.

Guillermo Rodriguez (URU, 30), 6 appearances, vote 6
Looking back at my ratings, El Pelado was Toro’s most consistent central defender in 2012-13 (largely deputising for an injured Angelo Ogbonna). With Ventura switching to a three man central defence this season, Rodriguez was expected to find more opportunities – indeed he started the first two matches. Injuries though ravished his season and after Christmas he was only seen in the 1-0 away loss to Inter when Toro’s entire backline was injured or suspended. Rodriguez was arguably the Granata’s best player at the San Siro but nigging injuries continued to disrupt his return, proven by Ventura’s preference to play midfielder Giuseppe Vives in defence during emergencies.
Verdict: After two seasons and 28 appearances unlikely to be retained next season. Injuries denied him the chance to make a firm impression. A good player though.

Plan for 2014-15: Angelo who? Toro didn’t miss Ogbonna (who had been average last season anyway) and the money banked looks like great business. The centre-back area needs very little work during the summer assuming the quartet Bovo, Glik, Maksimovic and Moretti remain. Considering Matteo Darmian can act as cover as well, the club seem well placed. Young Swedish international Pontus Jansson will take Rodriguez’s slot in the squad and could be next season’s Maksimovic.

For more from Peter you can follow him on Twitter here and his book about his experiences following Torino can still be purchased from Amazon here.

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