Sunday, 12 July 2015

Bourne's Player Review 2014/15 : Midfielders

Antonio Nocerino 4.5/10
30, Midfielder
11 appearances

Like Sanchez Mino, looked to be the player to bring some extra quality and guile to midfield. Seems with Ventura the relationship was lukewarm from the start. Injuries didn't help but Nocerino has been in a steady decline since his standout 2011-12 season at Milan. On loan at West Ham before his arrival in Turin he barely made an impression. A player whose wife is a Granata fan may have wanted to make more of a statement but the highlights of his time in Turin were probably reserved for Instagram rather than the pitch.

Future: Didn't excel following January's loan to Parma. Now back at Milan. Expect him to be at a middle/lower ranking Serie A side in September

Ruben Perez 4.5/10
30, Midfielder
8 appearances

8 appearances, 97 minutes in Serie A and none memorable. Probably wasn't given a fair chance but along with Nocerino and Sanchez Mino formed a triangle of failed midfield signings. Barely unpacked his suitcase before he was sent back to Atletico and farmed out to Granada.

Future: Will only return to Italy on holiday

Migjen Basha 6/10

28, Midfielder
6 appearances (1 goal)

An injury plagued season for the Swiss-born Albanian international, one of four survivors from Ventura’s first season in charge of the club. Only returning to the squad in January, Basha had to wait until March to mark his return to first team action. A headed goal in the away win at Parma would provide his only real moment in the sun. Only 159 minutes of first team action.

Future: A loyal soldier and useful midfield enforcer over the past four seasons, his contract has not been renewed. A shame to see Basha go but his departure an inevitable consequence of the club reaching new levels.

Marco Benassi 6.5/10
20, Midfielder
36 appearances (3 goals)

After a decent breakthrough season on loan from Inter to Livorno, Toro acquired half share rights in the player last summer. It’s nice to see Toro putting faith in youth. Highs included some energetic midfield displays in the second half of the season, adding goals to his repertoire, lows included the error in possession which gave Juve a last minute derby winner and the two yellow cards away at Zenit which may have resulted in the team’s Europa League exit.

Future: A decent European U-21 Championship tournament has raised his stock and Toro have taken advantage of Inter’s negligence regarding young, Italian talent and signed him out right this summer. If Benassi grows from this year’s experiences, he could become a player.
Omar El Kaddouri 7/10
24, Midfielder
46 appearances (4 goals)

Aside from the penalty winner against RNK Split which secured Europa League group stage football, the first few months of El Kaddouri’s season were rather rancid – a missed penalty versus Verona, low on confidence and trickery, jeered by the crowd. Gradually he pulled his form together and on a given day was the only Toro midfielder capable of running with the ball, creating space and taking on an opponent. That given day is too infrequent and the tally of 4 goals is a poor return for a player with his natural ability. The vote may be a little high but his performance in the derby alone is worthy of extra recognition.

Future: After two seasons on loan from Napoli, the club and player need to decide whether to execute a permanent deal. The player’s entourage have given the indication he sees his future elsewhere, the club itself seem lukewarm vis-à-vis a significant financial commitment for a player who remains potential rather than the finished article.

Alexander Farnerud 6/10
31, Midfielder
27 appearances (1 goal)

Like Basha and Gonzalez, Farnerud’s season was blighted by injury. One which started with a return from a serious knee injury and finished with a return to the surgeon’s table with another knee issue. Understandably Farnerud never hit the heights of his first season. He remains the most dangerous Toro player from a dead ball but was inevitably playing catch up with fitness for most of the campaign

Future: Another long term injury has probably secured a third season in Turin when the club may have considered letting him go

Alessandro Gazzi 8/10
32, Midfielder
41 appearances (0 goals)

Gazzi’s third season in Turin proved to be his best. Although it probably should never have taken place. The club were set to offload him to Serie B side Spezia on the eve of the new season before injuries forced Ventura to play him in the season opener against Inter. A man-of-the-match performance ensured he stayed in Turin and marked the beginning of an excellent season. After being strangely discarded in his second season (only making 11 appearances after being a regular in 2012-13), Gazzi seized the opportunity acting as the midfield’s chief enforcer, most energetic presence, backline protector and adding an improved repertoire of passing to his game.

Future: Despite the flood of arrivals in midfield already this summer, Gazzi is set to stay for a forth season and extend his Serie A appearances for the club to over a hundred

Álvaro González 5/10
30, Midfielder
4 appearances (0 goals)

Looked a quality January signing, and a player to bring some extra guile and quality to the midfield. Sadly the Uruguayan picked up persistent injuries limiting his playing time to 133 minutes. His only start came in the ill-fated home defeat to Empoli. He didn’t disfigure but even by that stage it was clear Ventura was never going to give him the run of games needed. Could have offered a lot more.

Future: Sent back to Lazio

Juan Sánchez Miño 4.5/10
25, Midfielder
14 appearances (0 goals)

Widely acclaimed as the best summer signing of 2014, the arrival of Juan Sánchez Miño seemed to mark the beginning of a new approach to foreign signings. Arriving from Boca Juniors with a glowing reputation, we were expecting a cultured left sided player capable of adding more creativity and goals from midfield. Instead, he became Ventura’s new version of Sansone and Bellomo, talented signings who never settled and quickly discarded. He was given a chance but looked short on confidence, light weight and overawed. His Toro career effectively ended when he casually missed a penalty in the home defeat to Sassuolo. He never looked like scoring and was almost immediately loaned to Estudiantes de La Plata.

Future: A sad time in Turin for a player with so much potential and for whom such effort was made to bring in. Unlikely to be given a second chance. Perhaps the relatively low price tag Toro paid for a player of his reputation was a already a warning signal
Giuseppe Vives 6.5/10
34, Midfielder
35 appearances (1 goal)

A revelation at the ripe old age of 33 in the 2013-14 season transforming himself from a Serie B workhorse into an evergreen top-flight playmaker. I forecast Vives would struggle to hit anywhere near those heights this year. He started off sluggishly and seemed to prove me right but at the turn of the year found his rhythm and while not offering the same level of quality as his finest professional season took responsibility for the running of midfield. A late equaliser in Florence his crowning moment.

Future: A top half Serie A side should not be relying on Vives to run its midfield but as a popular dressing room character, positive influence on side and fundamental part of the club’s rise it is only right he has signed up for a fifth season. Probably one with much reduced playing time

2015-2016: The midfield has been a problem area ever since the club returned to Serie A. Or rather the lack of a dedicated playmaker has been. Playing with width and a counter-attacking style over the past two seasons has enabled the club to negate having a quality ball player. The time has come for a change and investment. The arrivals of Acquah and Obi and retention of Benassi point to an energetic, youthful midfield one now just missing a creative presence to bring greater game management and goals

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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