Wolfsburg overpaid when they handed Palermo €11 million for Andrea Barzagli.
Yes, he had pedigree: He won the 2004 Euro U-21 Championships; earned a bronze medal at the 2004 Athens Olympics; was a squad player when Italy won the 2006 FIFA World Cup; and was included in Roberto Donadoni's Euro 2008 squad.
However, he never consistently showed how great he was.
When Donadoni did start Barzagli during the Euros, he was a mess, as the Dutch won 3-0. Three days later, Wolfsburg signed Andrea.
Barzagli was fortunate that his first season at the club coincided with one of the most potent three-pronged attacks in Bundesliga history—Grafite (28 goals, 11 assists), Edin Džeko (26 goals, 10 assists) and Zvjezdan Misimović (7 goals, 20 assists).
Felix Magath, who was relieved from his duties at Bayern Munich, led Die Wölfe to their first Bundesliga title, pipping Bayern by two points.
Not one Wolfsburg defender ranked in kicker's top 15 defenders, which was somewhat of an anomaly, since league champions generally always have at least one defender on that list.
The game plan to beat Magath's side was to attack a suspect back four and hope Diego Benaglio had an off-day—at the time, the Swiss shot-stopper was fighting with the likes of Schalke's Manuel Neuer and Hannover's Robert Enke (RIP) for the title of Bundesliga's best keeper.
That is exactly what Markus Babbel told his Stuttgart side, who had box-to-box threats in Sami Khedira and Thomas Hitzlsperger, plus the strike partnership of Cacau and Mario Gómez.
What was the end result? Barzagli was dragged all over the place as Gómez netted four times.
Andrea didn't look like a €11 million-valued centre-back, but no one vehemently pointed out his flaws, since Wolfsburg were champions.
But this wasn't the case during the 2009-10 season, as Wolfsburg supporters found their scapegoat—an overpriced and overpaid Barzagli.
The club went from No. 1 to not even qualifying for the UEFA Europa League, mainly due to Andrea's gaffes at the back.
Where do you start?
Hamburg scored twice in seven minutes (they ended with four), with Barzagli being caught out of position time after time. Andrea then spent a month warming the benches.
In the 3-1 loss to Borussia Dortmund, he couldn't win the ball away from Lucas Barrios in a game in which Mohamed Zidan had Zizou-like moments.
Wolfsburg leaked 58 goals in the Bundesliga that season, with Andrea receiving the worst kicker rating on the team for players who started 20-plus games.
The following January, Wolfsburg management cut bait and sold Barzagli to Juventus for a loss of €10.7 million.
Here are Barzagli's ranking during his time at Wolfsburg:
|Kicker Player Rankings ||All Players ||Defenders Only
|2008-09 ||68 ||18
|2009-10 ||186 ||65
|2010-11 ||164 ||54
| || ||
|WhoScored Player Rankings || ||
|2009-10 ||165 ||N/A
|2010-11 ||102 ||N/A
| || ||
|Bild Player Rankings || ||
|2010-11 ||174 ||59