To cover that hypothetical, this article grades Parolo's performance in Italy's 1-0 defeat to Uruguay at the 2014 FIFA World Cup and provides a scouting report on his season with Parma.
Parolo vs. Uruguay Grade: D
The decision from then-Italian national team manager Cesare Prandelli, who has since resigned, to sub out an injured Italian centre-forward Mario Balotelli for Parolo was a conservative and unimaginative tactical ploy.
Balotelli taken off because he's been rubbish and was more likely to be sent off that do anything remotely productive.— Ian Ladyman (@Ian_Ladyman_DM) June 24, 2014
Now being told Mario Balotelli had an injury. Italy have replaced him with a midfielder though. 0-0 suits them— Ben Smith (@BenSmithBBC) June 24, 2014
Parolo tracked back covering 1,283 more metres than Balotelli, per FIFA.com, whose only notable moment was kneeing Uruguay left wing-back Alvaro Pereira.
Balotelli and his strike partner Ciro Immobile were out of sync, therefore Parolo's box-to-box running would offer Italy a different attacking dimension.
Balotelli-Immobile not working for #ITA Hands up if you're surprised....— Adam Digby (@Adz77) June 24, 2014
Though, instead of being Prandelli's trump card, Parolo had to shelve his late surging runs once Claudio Marchisio was sent off harshly.
Parolo was unable to express himself under the circumstances of Italy shutting up shop.
Luis Suarez should be banned for entire World Cup. Embarrassment for the sport.— Matteo Bonetti (@TheCalcioGuy) June 24, 2014
Parolo Parma Positives
|League Only||Aaron Ramsey||Marco Parolo|
|Shots Per Goal||5.0||10.3|
|Key Passes Per Game||1.4||1.2|
|Tackles Per Game||3.3||3.6|
|Fouls Per Game||1.2||1.9|
|Tackles Per Foul||2.9||1.9|
|Interceptions Per Game||1.0||1.6|
Parolo possesses a smooth shooting motion like scoring a free-kick past AC Milan goalkeeper Gabriel.
Parolo rocketed a shot past Hellas Verona goalkeeper Rafael.
Being an all-round midfielder, Parolo is a dual threat scoring and creating goals.
This was illustrated with a smart angled pass to Inter Milan's Parma loanee Ezequiel Schelotto and getting out wide to make an incisive pass to Parma deep-lying forward Antonio Cassano.
In addition, Parolo is an excellent defender, winning back possession 5.2 times per game.
Marco Parolo: Only 1 player made more tackles in Serie A last season than Parolo (131) #ita— WhoScored.com (@WhoScored) June 24, 2014
Parolo Parma Negatives
Prior to last season, Parolo scored nine goals and registered three assists in his previous 104 Serie A games.
Has he peaked after his career-best season when he scored eight times and created six goals?
Could Parolo be another Francesco Lodi?
Since returning to Catania, he has not recovered his 2011-12 to 2012-13 form.
Francesco Lodi is officially back with Catania after leaving Genoa after just six months at Marassi. http://t.co/pag6HktTCE— footballitalia (@footballitalia) January 3, 2014
A big concern is Parolo's inability to consistently take the ball past opposing players.
Parolo averaged 0.3 dribbles per game and was unsuccessful 79 percent of the time he attempted a dribble, per Squawka.com.
It remains to be seen if he can transition his Serie A form to the Premier League, which is played at a higher tempo.
Therefore, Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger needs to quickly decide if Parolo, who shoots, creates and tackles, can be a viable backup to Ramsey.
I'm honoured to have been voted @Arsenal's Player of the Season by the fans. Your support has been incredible the last year, particularly...— Aaron Ramsey (@aaronramsey) June 4, 2014
...when I got injured, so thank you. I've been pleased with my form over the season, hopefully Wembley was just the start of things to come!— Aaron Ramsey (@aaronramsey) June 4, 2014
Statistics via WhoScored.com