As Alessandro Diamanti admits that he is struggling with the climate in China, Mark Siglioccolo asks if he can handle the heat in Brazil.
Looking at his statistics for the season, there is certainly a case to be made for Alessandro Diamanti to be taken to the World Cup. Ten goals and nine assists in 31 appearances, spanning across four competitions and two national Leagues, is not to be sniffed at. His debut for the Chinese Super League and Asian Champions League holders Guangzhou Evergrande proved decisive as he scored a brace to overturn a 2-0 deficit against Melbourne Victory in the ACL, helping them to a 4-2 victory. Diamanti's record in that competition currently stands at three goals in four games, yet the obvious argument is, have those been scored against quality opposition?
It is no secret that Asian football is not of the standard of top European Leagues, evidenced on the basis that they failed to make an impact at the Club World Cup. Yet money is being heavily invested and well-known names have flown east. Marcello Lippi, who led Italy to their first World Cup in 24 years in 2006 raised a few eyebrows when he took over at Evergrande six years later. Yet in just two seasons he has won four trophies for the club, significant for a player in Diamanti who will be 31 in two weeks, and has yet to win his first.
But is money and glory really worth sacrificing the chance to represent your nation at a World Cup? In terms of his geographical location, Diamanti has already narrowed his chances by making himself ineligible due to FIFA regulations to be tested for fitness along with the initial group of players in Cesare Prandelli's plans. Not only that, but the player has publicly admitted that playing outside of the peninusla is proving a problem: “The only thing I am struggling with a little more is the hot and humid climate, but I'm sure that's just a question of time.” With less than two months until the Mondiale, time is one commodity that he does not have.
Diamanti is Andrea Pirlo's dead-ball deputy and counterpart, and can be lethally effective when a free-kick or corner favours a left footed player. He is cool from the spot, as England already know far too well, and he can play through the middle or down the wings. Marco Parolo, Alessandro Florenzi and Emanuele Giaccherini present younger alternatives and serious threats to his place, but Diamanti offers unbridled determination and enthusiasm which combined with his eye for a pass could at the very least make him a valuable asset as an impact substitute.
Brazil will be far more physically exerting than China, but whilst it may appear that Diamanti has shot himself in his cultured left foot, perhaps he remains as Prandelli's ace in the hole.