Wednesday May 1 2013
When a hat-trick is not enough

Pablo Daniel Osvaldo was incredibly jeered by some of the Roma support after his hat-trick at the weekend. Antonio Labbate takes a closer look at the striker who divides opinion.

The stadium announcer at the Olimpico read out the Roma starting XI for their game against Siena on Sunday. After voicing the name of Pablo Daniel Osvaldo, a section of the home fans mainly based in the Curva Sud jeered. They were still whistling after he scored the club’s 4,000th goal in history during a display in which he netted his first Serie A hat-trick.

Osvaldo heard the heckles, taunts and chants, but restrained himself to two minor reactions. He firstly cupped his ear and, later, pointed to his name on the back of his shirt. He then used the club’s own television channel to underline his commitment to the Giallorosso cause.

“I’m happy,” he explained. “I was going through a difficult moment, but now I hope things get better. I’m really attached to this shirt and I look to prove that. Sometimes I succeed and sometimes I don’t. I’d like to thank the fans too, even if there is a section who are against me, but 99 per cent of the things said about me are false…”

Osvaldo is, you might say, a bit of a character. At the opposite end of the footballing scale to Javier Zanetti, whose own Sunday afternoon ended in concerned applause as he was stretchered off at Palermo, the 27-year-old is rather unique. Sporting a rockstar look, he’s admitted to having a statue of Mick Jagger in his home, as well as a Mini painted in Argentina’s colours with Diego Maradona’s face on one of the doors. “I can’t use it in Rome as they’re the colours of Lazio…”

Not that there is anything wrong with his individuality. It’s quite refreshing in a sport where footballers are automatically consigned to act as robotic role models. But Osvaldo – sent off three times in 52 League games for the club – has left himself open to criticism from the Roma faithful and beyond since his move in the summer of 2011, especially with his comportment this season.

Despite some mediocre spells with Atalanta, Lecce, Fiorentina and Bologna earlier in his career, the South American was brought back to Italy as part of the Luis Enrique project in the Italian capital. Although he had impressed in Spain with Espanyol, not everyone was convinced that he was really worth the €15m that the Giallorossi agreed to pay for him. Bonus clauses, if activated, would see that fee rise by another €2.5m too.

On the pitch, the man born in Buenos Aires has done a decent job. Eleven goals in 26 League games last term and 15 from the same amount so far this time around. He’s also managed to ripple the net in spectacular fashion. His scissor-kick strike against Lecce last season is a contender for the greatest goal never given after it was wrongly cancelled out by an offside call. 

“A gem which it was sacrilege to chalk off,” wrote the Corriere della Sera. “The history of football is full of beautiful goals, but beautiful disallowed goals are much more rare and that is why we remember them.”

Osvaldo vowed to score another one which would be given and did so at the start of the present campaign with a work of art against Catania. This time his joy was not transformed into despair by an erroneous whistle.

So why is there no universal love, not even from his club’s own fans, for the talented centre-forward? Despite his mild case of ‘Why Always Me?’ syndrome, Osvaldo’s apparent non-conformist attitude isn’t readily accepted when it damages the Roma jersey.

Last season, during an away game at Udinese, he punched teammate Erik Lamela after arguing over a pass that never arrived. “The thing with Lamela was just the passion of the moment,” he recalled. “I can be really annoying when it comes to this, as I always want the ball and admit I am as egotistical as most strikers. This incident, though, really was nothing. If I had Lamela’s left foot then I wouldn’t have passed the ball either. It was nothing personal, as it could’ve happened with Francesco Totti too...”

Things have been much more problematic this term. Zdenek Zeman punished him with the bench against Atalanta for a supposed lack of effort in training. Over Christmas, he pulled out of the club’s tour of America by sending them a sick note. In the game at Sampdoria, he hijacked Totti’s penalty duties and subsequently missed the crucial spot-kick. And, while suspended for the derby, he opted to fly to London with his new love Jimena rather than take in the action against the Biancocelesti.

“Osvaldo has potential talent, but he’s always missing something – especially in terms of his character,” said Franco Colomba, his former boss at Bologna. “Football is a team game and that is what comes first unless you are someone who scores two goals a tie.

“Inside of him there is a desire to be a protagonist, so when he’s on the bench there is an aversion towards everybody else. He doesn’t accept that and he pays the consequences. I had Marco Di Vaio, Marcelo Zalayeta, Adailton and him at Bologna. We had to save ourselves so I opted for the concreteness of the others. I recognised his talent, but I needed a team player.”

The player candidly acknowledged his faults earlier this season in an interview with La Repubblica. “I am a bit of a lunatic,” he noted. “One day I feel strong, the other useless. I fight, I score, I react, but I do everything to excess.

“It’s true, I have a horrible personality. But I kind of like being like this. I was forced to grow up, but there’s a part of me that rejects the idea of growing up. I make pointless fouls, but at that moment they seem right. I always want to change and think happiness must be elsewhere…”

Osvaldo is understood to have already held numerous conversations about his future with sporting director Walter Sabatini. The possibility of a summer sale is clearly there for a player who has never spent more than two seasons at the same club, but it will not be easy for the Giallorossi to say goodbye. At least, it shouldn’t be because he won’t be the subject of any indecent financial proposal made to La Magica.

Sure they will have a much more settled Mattia Destro next season, but only three players – Napoli’s Edinson Cavani, Antonio Di Natale of Udinese and Milan’s Stephan El Shaaarawy – have scored more goals than Pablo in the Italian top-flight this season. That can’t be overlooked.

And let us not forget that Osvaldo is also heavily in the thoughts of Italy boss Cesare Prandelli. “He can be a reference point for the future,” the CT said after offering the Argentine the chance to play for the Azzurri. “He’s a modern day striker, one with personality, great physical strength and excellent technical qualities.”

It’s now up to Roma to decide which Osvaldo category that statement falls into – the one per cent truth or the 99 per cent of lies. 

Have your say...

Dont think we have to worry about losing him to EPL.
He have already had that experince and didnt enjoy England vett much a bigger italian team or a giant in spain could make him leave the bank of arno.
But I think he enjoys the football played with montella and life in florence so much that ge right now isnt interested in moving on just yet.
on the 4th May, 2013 at 12:31pm
Not "obviously" right JuveFanatico! We are all entitled our interpretations, & opinions. I can see SES scoring many goals in his career, he has a sweet right foot. The goal he scored against Napoli at the San Paolo, tells me that he could be great at taking free kicks. The technique for that shot reminded me of Beckham. SES has a great chance to win more trophies than Baggio. Hopefully he will never have to contend with as many pragmatist coaches or terrible injuries.
on the 3rd May, 2013 at 4:46pm
@Daniel Giambrone

Obviously you are right in your observation, Baggio was a different type of player, yet i feel that SES can emulate Baggio in terms of being a difference maker and in his goal scoring ability. My observation of Lamela is similar i feel that he is a good dribbler and very good at taking on opponents especially with his age he has the ability to get better in those aspect. Yet i don't see him becoming a better goal scorer or more consistent in scoring goals he may have reached his peak in those terms which brings me back to my original post Lamela strikes me more of a complete player but a provider rather than striker and his position may change as well but i see him playing in a much deeper role, as someone else mentioned Di Maria, which is exactly whom Lamela reminds me of. while SES is the complete opposite, he may not be a dribbling wizard like Baggio, not a natural like Del Piero, but he does have the eye for goal and with time he could emulate both.
Perhaps I'm wrong but only time will tell.
on the 3rd May, 2013 at 3:12pm
Italy, Valero was very close to getting into my 11. Hamsik is in there just for the sheer number of goals & assists. Vidal gets in there for his goals, & also his great defending. Monty has been played well every time that I have seen him. Valero is amazing, he reminds me a little of Zidane in the way that he manipulates the ball in tight situations & his awareness. I really hope that the Viola can keep hold of him, as apparently, there are many EPL clubs looking at him.
on the 3rd May, 2013 at 2:28pm
So the Big question of daniels team of the season is if SES or lamela should be in it?
Not why this seasons best player borja valero dosent make it even though hamsik Ian't as great as last season. Vidal have reached the level just now at the End and montolivo even tough better than in firenze still is a bit inconsistent.

Getting back to Tour argument in attack Thats no question lamela deserves the Place in the XI more than SES looking at the whole season.
on the 3rd May, 2013 at 12:27pm
JuveFanatico, I disagree with you on two points. I think that Lamela will improve even more: isn't he only 21? Sorry but SES is nothing like Baggio! Baggio, even at 17, was a great dribbler. He was also an artist on the ball. Baggio was more of a trequartista, whereas SES is more of an inside forward. The likes of Baggio, Totti, & Del Piero were more natural, technical players. SES will get better, but I think that he is a different kind of talent to those that I have mentioned.
on the 3rd May, 2013 at 12:06pm
Osvaldo is a fantastic player, everyone can see that. However just like Cassano when he was younger Osvaldo is dealing with some issues that keep him from reaching the next level. Unless Osvaldo resolves his inner demons he will be another Cassano who never reached the level of quality that he was capable of achieving. As for the comparison between Lamela and SES, i have to say that even though these two players are very different and have different characteristics Lamela is the better and more complete player at the moment, yet i think Lamela won't get much better in terms of quality. While SES i feel has the potential to become a great with qualities resembling Baggio and maybe surpassing Baggio in his achievements and successes.
on the 3rd May, 2013 at 12:39am
IMO, Lamela is better than SES. SES tracks back alot yes, but he on the ball he is shaky and looks like he lacks confidence and strength which is why he passes nearly all the time he has the ball. SES has good finishing, skill and workrate but Lamela has everything and IMO better than his argentinian counterpart Di Maria. He gets pasts players with ease and his left boot is so sweet - just look at the goal this weak he scored then look at SES dreadful miss against Catania (you know which one).
on the 2nd May, 2013 at 6:57pm
Viktor, I said that "he doesn't do much IN AN ATTACKING SENSE when he isn't scoring. Yes, he does a lot of chasing back, but I would rather that he focus on attacking & supporting the centre forward, not leaving him isolated. There are so many times where he has an opportunity to run at his opponents; instead he just stops & plays a sideways or backwards pass. SES can & will improve, but right now, I think that Lamela is the better player.
on the 2nd May, 2013 at 5:10pm
@Dan Giambrone

Doesn't do much if he doesn't score? You serious, he runs more then any other attacker I've seen before. He works down with de sciglio as a second defender. Saying that if he doesn't score he doesn't do much is just plain wrong imo.
(no wonder city offers 35 mills for him) where lamelas current market value is around 15
on the 2nd May, 2013 at 1:59pm
Gialorossi, I hope that those moves don't come to fruition! Caesar is still a good keeper, but I'd rather Roma go for a younger, cheaper option: maybe someone like Consigli. What is Roma's financial situation? If it's not great, Roma may choose to sell if they can get €50+ mil for the pair. Missing out again on CL revenue, could force their hand, especially as they are looking to build a new stadium.
on the 2nd May, 2013 at 10:12am
Al, I did say "on his day"! And on his day, I see all the attributes that I would want in a number 9. He has good movement, & is strong. He is technically sound, & good off both feet. He is also useful in the air. Maybe I was going a little far, but I do see a great player in there. He just needs to sort his head out! Under Zeman, he was banging in the goals. Had remained, Osvaldo could well be leading the scoring charts.
on the 2nd May, 2013 at 9:51am
Looking at the latest news section, Marquinhos has been linked with Barca and Lamela with Man City, so that's the pair of them probably off. Meanwhile we're linked with a keeper well past his prime, shunted out of Inter 1yr ago to the worst team in the EPL where he was relegated, and we're willing to give him £90k p/w. This means we're offloading a Dutch international goalkeeper, who's never been given a chance to settle and is earning half that. All this and Osvaldo halfway out the door too.
on the 1st May, 2013 at 10:27pm
Any player who flies out of the country instead of staying for the derby doesn't deserve to wear the shirt. I'll be glad to see him gone.

On a footballing level, his movement is generally not good, especially compared to Destro. He contributes goals yes, but he doesn't contribute a lot else.

Hoping somebody can take that other moaning jerk Marquinho too. And Stek.
on the 1st May, 2013 at 9:36pm
Daniel " he can be at a similar level than Cavani" that was a bit of a reach . In what way? Because overall Cavani is World class and Osvaldo a good solid player is not on a World class level. Osvaldo can score goals and I don't question the fact he is skillfull but it doesn't hurt has the Legend Totti the best goal provider playing with him.
on the 1st May, 2013 at 9:31pm
I don't see his future at Roma, with fans jeering him because of his mentalness and because Destro will be back in the line-up and unless they change their effective front 3, he could be frozen out the squad. He'd be good for any team, and has all the attributes of a goalscorer - he can hold up play, has a good touch and a lethal finish. If he isn't a part of Roma's plans, then its their loss eventhough he should be more calm
on the 1st May, 2013 at 7:40pm
Interesting condundrum facing Roma this summer with regards to Osvaldo. I think he's a decenet player and a decent scorer too. you pointed out the stats from this season. he's a bit hot-tempered but that is not necessarily a bad thing. he plays with passion.
on the 1st May, 2013 at 4:28pm
Viktor, I would most definitely pick Lamela over SES. He has been good all season, and has scored as many goals. When SES doesn't score, he doesn't really do much in an attacking sense, whereas Lamela consistently runs at defenders, committing them, and plays incisive passes. I like SES, but I see limitations in his game, and defenders are sussing him out. He was a little better in his last match, but sadly he was lacking CCC composure, conviction, confidence, in his shooting and final ball.
on the 1st May, 2013 at 4:24pm
As a Roma fan I really hope we keep Osvaldo. We seem to keep selling our best players, and even worse, we keep giving them to our rivals. Fiorentina are not a bigger club than us at the moment, but another couple of seasons like this and they will be!

Other top players rumoured to have been leaving this season have included Stekelenburg, De Rossi, Marquinhos, Pjanic and Lamela. No wonder we struggle to even qualify for the Europa League!
on the 1st May, 2013 at 2:55pm
@daniel Gia

You pick lamela over el shaarway? Cmon
on the 1st May, 2013 at 12:59pm
If he could sort out his temperament and consistency, he could be at a similar level to Cavani. On his day he is outstanding, a complete striker. IMO, Roma have the best front 3 in Serie A. I hope that it can remain intact. My team of the season: 433- Handanovic, Cuadrado, Barzagli, Rodriguez, Di Sciglio; Hamsik, Montolivo, Vidal; Lamela, Cavani, Totti.
on the 1st May, 2013 at 11:06am
Osvaldo is one of those players you either love or detest. No middle ground here. He's a fine striker, but not spectacular. He scores, but then he does nothing more. He rarely beats his marker in one on one, he doesn't do enough damage defensively and honestly, by the time Zeman left, given his opportunities, he should have been Serie A top scorer. He isn't clinical enough. I'd let him go, if Roma can get an upgrade.
on the 1st May, 2013 at 10:10am
He was actually send of 4 times last 2 years, 3 times in Serie A (Atalanta, Fiorentina, Inter) & 1 time in the coppa Italia (Atalanta). That equals approximately 1 red every 12 games, whereas De Rossi (who has more of card liability reputation) only has 1 every 48 games. Funny facts....
on the 1st May, 2013 at 9:44am
As a massive roma fan we must keep Osvaldo. He needs to work on his temperment though and sacrifice himself for the team at times. He is a top player, and should be very much in Prandellis thoughts.Really hope he stays, everyone makes mistakes, fans should stick by him not jeer him, its pathetic. Lets finish the season well, we ve a tough run in before the coppa final and we need to try and get as many points as we can. Forza Roma.
on the 1st May, 2013 at 9:33am

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