As attacking full-back play becomes more and more important in the modern game, Marco Motta is a prime example of the new breed of player coming to the fore in the peninsula. His pace and power is attracting rave reviews across the football fraternity and with the World Cup just under a year away, Marcello Lippi could opt for this unassuming young man from Merate to bolster his squad in the quest to retain football’s greatest prize.
Born on May 14 1986, Marco Motta began his professional career with Atalanta and aged just 18 broke into the first team in the 2004/05 campaign. Despite making 19 appearances for the club, he moved to Udinese in a co-ownership deal the following season as Atalanta was relegated to Serie B. A signpost to the future for Motta was the Coach at Udinese, who saw his undoubted talent. That man was none other than Luciano Spalletti. Having brought Motta to Udine, Spalletti left the club to take up the mantle at AS Roma, leaving the larger than life Serse Cosmi to develop the raw young teenager. After 35 appearances for Udinese with a solitary goal to his name, Motta was loaned to Torino for the 2007/08 championship were he made a further 24 appearances, netting once. The conclusion of this campaign saw him return to the Zebrette.
In early 2009, his former mentor Spalletti took the young full-back to the capital, initially on a loan deal until the end of the season. After an impressive debut, coming on after 31 minutes on February 9 in a 3-0 home win against Genoa, both supporters and Coach were most encouraged: “Motta gets my compliments for that performance. It is not easy to enter onto the field at the Olimpico for the first time in front of a crowd like ours, with whom it’s difficult to exhibit tranquility. He has great speed, force and technical quality, and he was very good in the defensive phase of the game. He played with great personality.”
Praise indeed from Spalletti. It seemed a match made in heaven as Motta established himself in the Giallorossi back line with some outstanding displays. Spalletti was eager to secure his services on a permanent basis, and early this summer got his wish as Roma paid £3.5m to the Bianconeri to secure full ownership of the player. Since 2005 Motta was a fixture of the Under-21 squad, and captained the team at the recent U-21 European Championships in Sweden. He made over 40 appearances for the Azzurrini, his only goal coming in the 1-1 draw against Croatia in September 2008. That same year saw Motta represent his country at the Beijing Olympics, with Italy going out at the quarter-final stage to Belgium. In March of this year he was called into Marcello Lippi’s full squad for the matches against Montenegro and the Republic of Ireland, but has yet to earn his first cap at senior level.
Motta is arguably growing stronger with every passing year. He has speed of foot to fly past opposition players down the right-hand side and his delivery into the penalty area is second to none. His stamina and positional awareness sees to it that he is able to recover and snuff out counter-attacks before they can develop. Spalletti has based all his teams around attacking full-back play, so the Eternal City is a fantastic arena for Motta to showcase his considerable talent.
Another asset to Motta’s play is his tenacious tackling. The player has the heart of a lion and is not afraid to go in where it hurts to break up opposition play and put his side back on the offensive. Versatility in the modern game is worth its weight in gold and Motta can also act as an emergency central defender, as demonstrated last season as Spalletti’s team faced a crisis in that area. Within the structure of a 4-2-3-1, Motta can also even play in the advanced position out wide behind the lone striker, making the most of his attacking nous. He has all the attributes of an all-round talent, and many experts suggest that he will feature in Lippi’s final squad for South Africa 2010, should the Azzurri confirm qualification later this year.
Motta is a breath of fresh air for the Azzurri Tactician as he looks to ring the changes over the next 12 months, just one of many young guns who can take la Nazionale forward into the next decade. It was obvious that the Confederations Cup was a swansong for many of the class of 2006, Lippi giving his loyal servants one last hurrah before looking to ring the changes in preparation for next summer. Motta has cut his teeth in the Under-21 team, waiting patiently for his shot at the big time. That time is now. He has earned the right to play on the biggest stage of all, the World Cup finals. Before the qualifying campaign for next summer’s finals is concluded, expect to see Motta make the big breakthrough into the senior squad. The coming season is the most important of his career – performances at club level will be under more scrutiny than at any other time. With Roma going through a transitional period, Spalletti will be looking for a consistent campaign from the youngster as he tries to galvanise his squad to return to the levels of a couple of seasons ago. Marcello Lippi has much thinking to do before next summer’s showpiece in South Africa. The deficiencies in his squad were there for all to see at the Confederations Cup and the time has come for regeneration. Marco Motta has arrived, it is up to him to take this opportunity with both hands.