Manchester City transfer target Davide Astori isn't just a potential injury-replacement for Matija Nastasic—Astori is the Italian Titus Bramble.
City director of football Txiki Begiristain, club CEO Ferran Soriano, manager Manuel Pellegrini and City's transfer advisers shouldn't be engaging in such a high-risk, high-reward type of transfer.
|GAME||ASTORI MISTAKES EXPLAINED|
|Genoa 2-0 Cagliari|
|Cagliari 4-2 Siena|
|Inter Milan 2-2 Cagliari|
|Cagliari 0-2 Chievo|
|Cagliari 1-3 Juventus|
|Roma 2-4 Cagliari|
|Cagliari 1-1 AC Milan|
|Cagliari 4-3 Torino|
|Bologna 3-0 Cagliari|
|Cagliari 2-1 Fiorentina|
|Napoli 3-2 Cagliari|
|Juventus 1-1 Cagliari|
The Bramble reference isn't just another way to express how bad Astori is, it's meant to show you how a defender with world-class upside is blowing it.
Revisionist history will paint Bramble's career as an epic failure which overshadows the period in his career which made him a favourite under the late great Sir Bobby Robson, via his autobiography:
He was the best passer we had at the back of the team. He's a big lad with two good feet. In the tackle, he cleans people out.
If he cuts out his mistakes, he will become one hell of a player.
At times I would say to him, 'Forget about what's in the newspapers. Don't read them. I like you. I think you're a great player.'
I called Charlie Woods in and instructed him, 'Charlie, tell Titus what you think about him,' and he did.
Alan Oliver was very unkind to Titus. He would write an article about Titus in March and bring up a mistake he had made last September.
No journalist ever applied that unforgiving historical approach to Gary Speed or Alan Shearer or Shay Given.
They only did it to Titus Bramble.
Astori has always had the ability (his football education was at AC Milan), though his lack of self-belief—like Bramble—is why he's toiling away at Cagliari instead of being a starter at Milan.
Astori was once part of a Cagliari backline that conceded three goals in 15 minutes against Udinese.
Then there was the 5-3 loss vs. Genoa in 2010 when he and his teammates conceded four goals in nine minutes.
Didn't Nastasic endure some hardships in Italy?
Sure, Nastasic had growing pains at Fiorentina where he was below-par in a 5-0 loss to Juventus and a 3-0 loss to Napoli.
But he was a teenager for the Viola whereas Astori, 26, is regressing instead of progressing.
The "high-risk, high-reward" part is an inference to Astori making 72, 110, 118 and 114 interceptions in his last four seasons.
His passing can be immaculate as he's completed 85 percent or higher of his passes on 17 different occasions last season.
In an ideal situation, he'll overcome his inner demons and maximise his potential under Pellegrini, who revitalised the floundering career of Martin Demichelis.
However, Astori's bad body language, the self-pity and constant lapses in concentration are major red flags City can't overlook.
Betting on players with low intangibles is never a good idea and you'd like to hope that Begiristain would have learnt from the €25 million Dmytro Chygrynskiy debacle at Barcelona.