Scouting Rumoured Juventus Transfer Target Angelo Ogbonna
Angelo Ogbonna could be Juventus' first signing of the summer as the Bianconeri look to build upon their success over the last couple of seasons.
Torino's centre-back has impressed many in recent years with his athletic performances and canny ability to read danger quickly.
With the best defence in Serie A, including a trio of Italian international centre-backs—Giorgio Chiellini, Leonardo Bonucci and Andrea Barzagli—not to mention the Uruguayan international Martin Caceres, the Old Lady will be stacked in this department if they acquire the 25-year-old.
Gazzetta dello Sport and Tuttosport (via Football Italia) have reported that Juve are prepared to offer Torino €8 million and the co-ownership of one of two strikers—Ciro Immobile or Manolo Gabbiadini—in exchange for their defensive lynch pin.
Ogbonna is entering a stage of his career where he needs to challenge himself and take a step up in class, especially after breaking into the Italian national team two years ago under Cesare Prandelli.
With his versatility to be able to fill in at left-back, Antonio Conte could use Ogbonna as one of the three centre-backs or potentially on the left side of the five-man midfield, in a similar vain to Federico Peluso, who has been pushed forward in order to adapt to the Bianconeri's 3-5-2 system.
Tall, athletic and powerful, Ogbonna will offer different characteristics to Conte as the two-time scudetto winner bids to build an even more impressive squad moving forward.
Ogbonna performed well in patches for La Granata this season, but appeared to struggle for fitness at times. However, the partnership with Kamil Glik was one of the better ones from Serie A's sides outside of the top five or six.
Ogbonna suffered a series of injuries last term that hampered his progress, undergoing hernia surgery as well as being troubled by an inflamed prostate gland and a thigh strain. But he finished the last couple months of the season well, doing enough to be summoned by Prandelli for the Azzurri's friendly with San Marino.
Ogbonna missed the final cut for the Confederations Cup, but started that friendly last week, completing 90 minutes next to Andrea Ranocchia in a back four, a system that he is used to playing in under Giampiero Ventura for Toro.
Next to Glik, Ogbonna is comfortable at dropping off and sweeping around his partner to great effect when the Polish international looks to step up to win aerial duels, even if he is equally capable of playing the ball-winning role.
Such composure on the ball means Ventura prefers to use Ogbonna as the team's ball-player from the back, establishing Torino's play with great authority in a similar vain to Bonucci at Juventus.
It is no shock then that a player of Ogbonna's ilk has been targeted by Conte when the team is short of a direct cover for Bonucci, who facilitates Juve's progression from the back into midfield, often exchanging passes with Andrea Pirlo.
With Pirlo often given extra attention by the opposition, the luxury of a ball-playing centre-back for Juventus means that they are able to step beyond the side's regista at times preventing the Old Lady from resorting to the aerial route—even if Bonucci, or Ogbonna's long-range passing might come in handy when Fernando Llorente is accommodated into the lineup.
Some critics mention the fact that the player, who is entering the prime of his career, would have made a move already had he been good enough and that the adaption process could be too much to take in his stride. It appears to me that a move to a club like Juve would actually benefit Ogbonna's game.
In a team that is largely possession based—the opposite to Toro's counter-attacking approach—Ogbonna will have more space to be able to step into and get on the ball, as well as use his pace to cover larger distances with Juve's higher back line.
At Torino, who have a tendency to drop deep, Ogbonna is mostly tasked with man-marking strikers backing into him and looking to spin in behind, which can sometimes expose one of the player's weaknesses.
Despite his athletic prowess, Ogbonna can occasionally dawdle and gift the opposition half a yard of space, which can be more costly in a side like Torino than it would be at Juve for example.
Due to Toro's deeper back line, Ogbonna and his teammates have less time to react when the opposition are able to work half a yard of space due to being closer to the goal. While Juve operate a higher line, Ogbonna will often be able to recover with his searing speed as the opposition will be much further up the pitch.
Ogbonna might feel a little unfortunate to have been discarded from the final squad for the Confederations Cup. In addition, his multiple injuries and the fact that he plays for one of Italy's less glamorous sides certainly did not help.
A move to Juventus will help him cement a place in Prandelli's 2014 World Cup squad by giving him added recognition. By playing in a side that is not overly dependent on him, there will be no need to rush back from any injuries, and fitness concerns should be banished if he can enjoy a good preseason to set him up for a World Cup season.
He could even come into contention for a start for the Azzurri if he is able to nudge one of the Bianconeri's current starting centre-backs out of the 11. With such a unique array of skills, Ogbonna can achieve everything he wants to at a club of Juventus' stature.
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