Monday, 6 July 2015

Bourne's Player Review 2014/15 : Strikers

Amauri 5/10
29 appearances (3 goals)

On the final day of the August transfer window, Toro were desperate to add some attacking thrust to what looked like the weakest part of the side, one devoid of Cerci & Immobile. When rumours circulated about a 35-year old, widely ridiculed, journeyman Amauri joining it seemed like a bad joke. On arrival much fuss was made over his waistline and ultimately opportunities to enforce his presence were limited to impact substitute appearances in Serie A and group stage starts in the Europa League. The arrival of Maxi Lopez in January reduced chances further. A willing worker Amauri did claw back some credit with the Maratona faithful. One league goal – the fifth in the rout against Samp – speaks volumes.

Future: Every chance that his long stint in Italy is over and a return to Brazil imminent

Paulo Barreto 4/10
29, Striker
6 appearances (1 goal)

273 minutes of which only three in Serie A all season, a full description is barely required. Barreto has proved a total flop. Apparently low on motivation, he virtually disappeared after the autumn. One pupil Ventura has not managed to reignite.

Future: To be released

Maxi Lopez 7.5/10
31, Striker
23 appearances (11 goals)

Like Amauri, seemed like another unimaginative and lazy acquisition. A last minute winner early into his Toro career at Cesena set the tone with Maxi becoming one of the signings of the season. Magnificent in the two legs against Bilbao (three goals), excellent in the air, he added much needed weight and a focal point to the attack, and without his presence the second half the season would have been much less fruitful. Always looked a few kilos too heavy and with a stronger pre-season behind him (he will need one based on the summer holiday pics published!), Ventura may squeeze even more out of a player whose career seemed on the wane.

Future: My personal opinion is that these first six months may be as good as it gets

Marcelo Larrondo 4/10
26, Striker
11 appearances (2 goals)

Part of the much-maligned, low budget South American strike force (with Barreto) which started the early rounds of the Europa League. Against relatively tame opposition from Sweden he perhaps found his level. A missed penalty on the opening day of the season at home to Inter (one of a series of mystery Granata penalty kickers) signalled the beginning of the end of his time at the club with a loan move to Tigre in Argentina activated in January. Slow, ponderous and rarely a threat in front of goal.

Future: Likely to return to base for the summer with the club having the onerous task of finding a new suitor

Josef Martinez 6/10
22, Forward
40 appearances (7 goals)

One of the more interesting summer signings, the Venezuelan youngster arrived with a glowing reputation in his homeland and an interesting YouTube compilation from his time with Swiss sides Thun and Young Boys. The only Toro player to score in all three competitions, he can be happy with the playing time afforded to him in his first Italian season and the confidence Ventura showed in him. Used frequently to tire opposition defences rather than as an impact substitute he played a vital role in freshening the attack during the busy Europa League weeks. Martinez is still very erratic, tactically immature and too often makes the wrong decision. This will be ironed out in time under a coach like Ventura. Only three goals in Serie A is a poor return for a player with such pace and trickery.

Future: Next season will determine just how good Martinez is, assuming without Europa League football he gets equal playing time

Fabio Quagliarella 8/10
32, Forward
46 appearances (17 goals)

A popular return to the club for a player formerly with the Toro primavera team and who enjoyed a formative season back in 2004-05 before the club went bankrupt. Most of the stellar moments of the season involved Quaglia’s footprint – the crucial last minute penalty against Copenhagen, the stunning hat-trick in the rout of Sampdoria, the historic winner in the derby, a crucial goal in Bilbao. His tally of 13 league goals equals his personal best in Serie A and but for injury in the final weeks of the season he would have broken that landmark. Resolved the club’s problem from the penalty spot, held the ball up magnificently, combined both classic centre-forward play and touches of a fantasista. Blighted only by his decision not celebrate goals against his many former clubs including the Gobbi.

Future: Likely to lead the attack again next season while hoping for a stronger supporting cast around him

2015-2016: Attack likely to be built around Quagliarella and a target man unless there is another Ventura tactical revolution. Target man may be Maxi Lopez but indicators point to a younger forward being drafted in as well. A quality striker is needed. Martinez is likely to offer something tactically different, perhaps more as an impact substitute and a back-up for Quagliarella.

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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