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Monday August 6 2012
Balzaretti bump

Federico Balzaretti’s switch to Roma could be a great move or following in Fabio Grosso’s faltering footsteps, warns David Swan.

At the conclusion of the 2006 World Cup, Inter purchased a 28-year-old left-back from Palermo by the name of Fabio Grosso, who had a great tournament. Despite being at a perfect age and moment in his career, he rarely hit the pinnacle of his World Cup performances again.

Part of it was down to a lack of regular football – injuries and poor form means that he has only played 30 league games in a season once since the World Cup – but it is difficult to avoid the feeling that he was a player who peaked during those four weeks in Germany.

Six years later, another left-back from Palermo has secured a move to a big club after an impressive tournament showing where Italy reached the Final. Federico Balzaretti has been linked with a move for the past three years but after impressing at Euro 2012, Roma finally took the plunge.

It is strangely reminiscent of the situation Grosso found himself in – even down to the identity of the selling club. Now Roma are hoping his career does not take the same slow turn Grosso’s did post-Palermo.

They are taking a bit of a risk. Having sold Jose Angel to Real Sociedad, they once again look like entering the season with only one senior left-back in the squad, with Brazilian Dodo the young and hugely inexperienced back-up. Crucially, at two years older than Grosso when he moved, Balzaretti is at a much more advanced point in his career.

He has been a bit unfortunate to move so late on. There have been a clutch of clubs that have been in desperate need of a left-back with his qualities for years now but that have seemingly been unconvinced by his ability to perform at the very highest level. Being capped by Italy has given him an opportunity to prove he can handle it, culminating in his fine displays at Euro 2012.

It was probably age, more than ability, which put Milan off from trying to snatch him this summer. Roma have no such need to reduce the age of their squad, but it begs the question – how close is Balzaretti to the tipping point of his career, the moment where his abilities start to wane?

Age-wise he is not far off – on paper he is certainly closer in this regard than Grosso was. He has possibly two years left of offering his best for Roma, but then Grosso should have had at least four and only managed it in fits and starts. You have to wonder whether the club have accepted the short-termism of the move to fill one of their problem positions for a season where they expect to challenge for Champions League places.

He has signed a three-year deal and, even if he only offers the two years of top service theorised here, the €4.5m transfer fee plus salary should have been worth it. But if he dips the way Grosso did, then Roma will be left needing to fill the problem position once again.

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Have your say...
More typical Northern-centric media BS putting down Roma and Napoli... Its ridiculous. Just face it, Sabatini made a great signing and Balzaretti is primed to do great things with Roma.

Move on Juve, Inter, Milan followers...
on the 10th August, 2012 at 11:37pm
This nonsense (sorry) article highlights another bigger issue: As neutral observer of serie A I must say that the 'Roma project' is currently the most exciting development in Italy. They didn't have good results last season and Enrique was probably a mistake but the overall direction and potential of Roma becoming a world class club with new spirit plus tradition and loyalty (Totti, De Rossi) is a perfect combination and the Roma fans must be very happy with new management (despite their origin) who have knowledge and purchase very good future oriented talents plus some good veterans (as Balzaretti). This is very promising and should give the Northern clubs (who work business as usual mode) a lesson ...
on the 7th August, 2012 at 12:12pm
Comparing FB to Grosso is rubbish. I have been following FB ever since he was with Juve and to this day I still don't know why they sold him. I also can't understand why Cricito and Chiellini were preferred to FB when it comes to the national side. Wake up Cesare Federico has been the best Italian wb for sometime now. Plus, given Zeman's football ethic he's perfect for Roma. If people can't see this they have no place writing football blogs.
on the 7th August, 2012 at 10:27am
Here's a thought, don't you think that most of the media are against our new owners? I sometimes feel that they're trying to do all they can to turn the fans against the management.

1) "The Americans hate our history", that phrase kept going on and on when TDB said that the Olimpico isn't suited for football.
2) Making a crisis over nothing when Baldini gave his first interview and said that Totti could've done more.
3) Big media rejection for Osvaldo, even after he gave some good performances.
4) The daily Roma-Barcelona comparison.
5) The plot planned against Baldini from the radio stations.
6) After every bad result they go find an Italian coach and make him say if an Italian coach was in the place of LE then he would've been fired a long time ago.
7) Totti vs LE. Borini vs the team. Baldini vs Sabatini.
8) TDB resigned. The Americans will leave.
9) Baldini will follow Capello. He doesn't have any power. The Americans don't trust him.
10) Zeman's appointment is to only please the fans.
11) We will lose Borini in the envelopes.
12) Borini's sale is a sign the project is falling.
13) The whole Destro thing.

I could go on and on. Now some of the points above are true, and I'm not new to the Italian media, but back when Franco and Rosella owned the club the media were more supportive. The Destro thing is laughable, they're trying to make the fans hate Destro before we even sign him, which in return will have negative effect on our management because he will probably be the signing our management was hoping will bring in the most enthusiasm.

Is it because they knew how to handle them better, or is it that the media can't accept a foreign ownership?

Just a thought...
on the 7th August, 2012 at 7:03am
There were more Juventus players than any other club players in Italy 2006, Juve played serie B the season after.

italy 2012 had more Juve players than any players from other clubs, soooo? Serie B again???

Sorry, no need for a blog based on a stupid comparison that doesn't hit reality nor anyones interest.

next please!
on the 6th August, 2012 at 9:34pm
A)As it has been said, Inter bought Grosso before World Cup.

B) Balzaretti has probably been Serie A's best left-back over last 3 seasons, although the last one was on slightly lower level. At least I always felt that he had something extra compared to other left-backs. Great commitment and sacrifice in defence and good ability, stamina going forward.
on the 6th August, 2012 at 8:21pm
Just a clarification, Balzaretti is not a 'Juve reject', he followed Juve when they're plunged into Serie B, he's out from the club simply due to the incompetence and poor judgment of the new Board of directors that time, Getting his signature for 5M is a steal.

Also, I disagree with the comparison, him moving to Roma will be more like Pirlo to Juve instead of Grosso, one game a week is the reason.
on the 6th August, 2012 at 8:05pm
You are so inaccurate. Grosso was signed before the world cup that year. NOT AFTER. 2nd of all, Balz has been established for a number of years. Doomsday report failed pal.
on the 6th August, 2012 at 8:00pm
@Anthony. Grosso was unknown before the 2006 WC? for how long exactly have you been watching italian football? Gross was part of the palermo backline that included Barzagli, zaccardo and Biava in 2004-05 season. three of those four made the italian squad for 2006 wc Grosso played 36 times in serie A that season. In 05-06, he was part of the palermo side which reached the uefa cup last 16, semi of coppa italia and 5th in serie A. this place has become a club for part time experts.
on the 6th August, 2012 at 7:13pm
What ? Seriously, David ? ... No other subjects to write about ? I fully agree with Adam, Frank and Rosario. Move on, please. Roma made a fine purchase and nothing with Balzaretti resembles any Grosso @ Inter comment. I see him strong u der Zeman and have high hopes for ASR this season. No reason for doomsdaays ....
on the 6th August, 2012 at 4:04pm
Grosso was an anonymity before the 2006 World Cup. Balzaretti has been around for a while and is fairly well-known. He will do fine.
on the 6th August, 2012 at 3:58pm
didnt inter sign grosso before the world cup started, rather than sign him off the back of his performances in Germany?
on the 6th August, 2012 at 3:48pm
Balza is certainly good enough for Roma and can play for big teams as he's showed in the past with Juve who inexplicably sold him.

The problem potentially will come because Roma have overall a very poor defence and with the exception of de Rossi a poor midfield which will leave Balza defending more than attacking.
on the 6th August, 2012 at 12:47pm
Balzaretti has been brought in essentially to act as a mentor to Dodó, in who Sabatini and Zeman have a great deal of faith.

That is, if he can ever recover from his terrible injury; after 1 month of pre-season training he's still doing differential training...

Nonetheless, Balzaretti is the perfect full-back for Zeman's style of play and it seems like he's taken to the Master's tactics like a duck to water. Hopefully he'll once again prove to be one of the best full backs in Serie A.
on the 6th August, 2012 at 12:33pm
I disagree with the comparison and the possible conclusion. of course anything can happen in football but the situations couldn't be more different. Balza did have an outstanding Euro but in Serie A, he is still really seen as the Juve reject who then moved on and performed well under the radar at Fiorentina and then Palermo. He is going to a club who are obviously on the up and he will be relied upon as their first choice full back. he is comfortable on both sides and at 30, he is at his peak
on the 6th August, 2012 at 11:56am
Couldn't agree with you more Adam. Balzaretti has been serie a best LB for some time know and he was finally given a big enough stage to showcase his talents and in my eyes is right along side ashley cole and alba. Absolutely won me over this past euros. He will be forever be one of my favorite azzurri players for his determination, skill, and attitude towards the game. But on a sour note, I can't help to mention that another pessimistic article has been written by a writer grasping at straws.
on the 6th August, 2012 at 9:29am
Grosso did well for Lyon lets not forget that he was there for a couple of years. Balzaretti is good and I can see the comparisons with Grosso but every player is different Balzaretti is a machine up and down the flank a plessure to watch hope he continues to 2014 world cup, then someone new will overtake the roll.
on the 6th August, 2012 at 8:46am

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