by Jack Heaney
If transfer window tugs of war between Manchester City and Manchester United these days are becoming one of the most fascinating aspects of football’s summer and January switcharooneys then Torino starlet Angelo Ogbonna is most certainly the latest chunk of rope.
The 2011/2012 season was a campaign in which the spotlight remained heavily focused on defence. While one of the reasons Roberto Mancini’s Blues lifted the title was because of his team’s stronghold – the central defensive partnership of Joleon Lescott and the excellent Vincent Kompany – a key factor in United’s abdication of the throne was the absence of stalwart Serbian Nemanja Vidic.
It is no wonder then, that both Mancunian sides are being linked with the highly-rated Angelo Ogbonna. A series of reports prevalent in all four corners of the media have linked the young Italian to the land that is home to the quiff, relentless rain and grey-slate skies – but the youthful Ogbonna may just be the horizon both teams are searching for. While Sir Alex Ferguson’s suspiciously alcohol-fuelled scarlet grimace will be parading the streets of Manchester today as he learnt that no less than a cool £16million pounds will be required to prise the defender from Torino’s clutches, it is understood that the icy stare of Roberto Mancini has also found its way to Ogbonna.
What an important clash of heads this could be. What an important player the exuberant Angelo could be for both sides. For a sizeable period of time Manchester United have been accused of, for all the plaudits that come their way because they are ‘seasoned’, lacking sway when the window is polished and prised open. It appears that many doubts were quashed, however, when the porridge faced Robin Van Persie – a man paler than Albino breast milk – decided to head Red instead of Blue. While Manchester City will undoubtedly be able to offer a lucrative wage bill, Sir Alex Ferguson’s powers of persuasion must never be underestimated. In fact the latest report running the mill is that Alex Ferguson has already sent scouts to witness the defender in person.
And why wouldn’t he? The potent talent Angelo Ogbonna possesses is obvious. Consider how technically gifted Italy’s current starting back line is; now consider the fact that Ogbonna received his first call up to the Azzurri while plying his trade in Serie B, and was included in Italy’s Euro 2012 squad. As physically imposing as Ogbonna is – at six foot two – much has been made of the ‘intellectual’ aspect of the centre-back. Rather than the ‘blood and thunder’ attributes English defenders are often praised so highly with, Angelo is skilful on the ball while employing excellent positional awareness off it.
His temperament is cool and methodical – scooping the Piermario Morosini Gentleman’s award as well as the best defender in Serie B gong has not gone unnoticed last season – while his endeavours in helping Torino rise from Italy’s second tier to its first will surely appeal to any manager who cites loyalty, focus and devotion as key attributes in the heart of his defence.
The statuesque defender, at six foot two, recently penned a contract tying his signature to Torino until 2016. But no surprises come alongside reports the top two teams from England are competing for Ogbonna’s signature. Roberto Mancini should seek to plug the worrying hole that is apparent when Vincent Kompany is out-of-sorts or injured, while Alex Ferguson’s head has been turned by another youthful defender who, alongside the likes of Chris Smalling, Jonny Evans and Phil Jones, would almost certainly be prompted to inherit the opulent thrones Vidic and Ferdinand leave.
The lines will be drawn. While Ogbonna has made an excellent 99 league appearances in the last 3 seasons – such consistency from a young man – Torino will find it hard to resist big bucks. Both Blue and Red corners should do battle for this intelligent, stoic young prodigy. It’s Call Of Duty: Mancunian Warfare.