It’s that sinking feeling. Again.
Another very promising player leaves the club. Last year, we saw Dave Jones – a promising midfielder – leave due to overcrowding of our midfield (which, in turn, was due to the arrival of Carrick). He would go on to inspire Derby to promotion to the Premiership. The reason I felt bad for Jones was that he wasn’t even given a fair run in the side. But that said, there wasn’t much of a chance anyway, given our acquisition of Carrick. After I got over the initial disappointment, my only gripe was the mere 1 million quid we got for him. (Really, that is chicken feed-in modern football transfer dealings.)
But to think that our brightest young talent, in a long time, would be sold – despite outstanding performances in the reserve level, and equally impressive performances in the Serie A for Parma – without being given as much as a sniff of a run for the senior side is gut wrenching.
To spell it out to everyone in explicit terms, Rossi has been sold to Villarreal for Â£6.7m.
In pure professional terms, it was a great bit of business. We bought him for peanuts and sold him for a good sum. But there itself lies testament to the value of the player. Rossi has been hailed by none other than Ruud van Nistelrooy as one of the best finishers he’s seen. Sir Alex would also concur. His performances at the reserve level, where he scored for fun, were proof enough that he belonged to a higher level. Unfortunately, his spell at Newcastle proved to be his undoing. A good run in a Premiership club would have instilled faith in SAF to give him a chance in the team this season. But with hardly any playing time at Newcastle, one could never be sure if his dimunitive frame was suited for the Premiership.
However, to be fair and realistic, we must trust the judgement of SAF here. There is one fact that remains true of our side. If we get Tevez, there will be far too many similar types of players. Rossi again doesn’t offer the aerial threat and specialises in playing off a target striker. In a team with Tevez and Rooney, both of whom typically revel in similar roles, a fair run for Rossi would seem far fetched, save for the odd FA Cup and Carling Cup appearance.
From a personal career point of view, this is the time where he needs regular football at a high level in order to improve and grow as a player, and a club like Villarreal would certainly guarantee that, now with the departure of Diego Forlan – another ex-United player – from their ranks. Villarreal are not a huge club, like the Juves and the Milans. They will certainly guarantee Rossi regular playing time while their presence in the UEFA Cup this season would ensure Rossi plays good opposition too. The technical nature of the La Liga would give him more time on the ball and I wouldn’t be surprised if he plays a blinder of a season, a la Diego Forlan. Although I would certainly be cursing our luck if that happens. Not to mention, the immense joy it would give the ‘Dippers and the rest of the league.
Anyway, we have seen great stars sold from our club and seen our club get stronger. But selling promising talent without them getting a chance to prove their mettle might be even more frustrating. It is like the baby that everyone looks forward to but dies due to miscarriage. If I am permitted to use that form of an analogy, that is. It does pose a serious question, not just to us, but a lot of teams in the Premiership: Aren’t we being increasingly guilty of not being able to keep faith on players that come off our youth system? Okay, Rossi wasn’t exactly our product, but he was picked off Parma at a very young age, like how Fabregas was picked off Barcelona. But aren’t we succumbing to the pressure posed by clubs that have now become well endowed with cash, that we’d rather go for ready-made talent, in order to keep up? Well of course, we don’t really have much choice these days and all we can do is to move on, put it behind us, and hope for another young one to light our Theatre of Dreams.
Till then Good bye, Rossi. We wish you the very best. Go make yourself proud.
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