According to latest reports, Italian outfit Napoli have signed their long-term interest Andrea Dossena from Liverpool. An official announcement is still pending, but is expected to arrive soon.
The transfer deal had turned into a bit of mini-saga as Liverpool had tried to use interest from other clubs like Juventus, Milan and Roma in order to get more out of the deal. The final transfer fee decided is rumored to be to the tune of GBP 4.5m. The 28-year old Italian international’s natural position is left-back, but in the past he has been occasionally deployed at left-midfield as well. Napoli had made it a priority to reinforce their fullback positions this January and are now halfway through accomplishing it.
Dossena came into limelight playing for Udinese from two years between 2006 and 2008. Liverpool signed him on July 4, 2008 on a four-year deal for a reported fee of GBP 7m. Dossena was signed as a direct replacement to John Arne Risse who left Liverpool for Roma during the same transfer window. In doing so, Dossena set a few records – he was Liverpool’s most expensive defender as well as first ever Italian to play for them. Transition and adaptation to a different league is always an issue which many great players in the past have not been able to cope up with. However, at that time, Dossena claimed that his ‘half-English, half-Italian’ style of play coupled with a combination of determination and quality on the ball will make his transition smooth. It was expected that he would push Fabio Aurelio on to the bench or the midfield position and Liverpool fans had great expectations from him, with a small section claiming him to be the best left-back in Italy, rating him above Grosso.
However, Dossena had a truly awful start at the Merseyside. He had a habit of going out of position and drifting inside far too often, leaving massive gaps at the left flank. He did provide an attacking threat by going forward and providing some decent crosses. But he was poor at tracking back and covering the flanks. He was poor at defending and opposing players could get easily past him to whip in crosses in the box. His tackling ability seemed non-existent. Fans started to lose patience with him. Dossena’s sympathizers argued that Patrice Evra had a poor start in England as well and required several months of adjustment before he managed to become one of the best left-backs in the world. However, Dossena did not do any justice to his supporters as his play got worse with every game. Within six months of his arrival, there were rumors of him going back to Italy. Rafa Benitez, however, kept faith in him and claimed several times that Dossena was working very hard to adapt to the English style of play. With Fernando Torres coming to Anfield the same year and settling in the team very smoothly, the pressure was on Dossena to perform.
A couple of good performances in December 2008 were followed by a disastrous game against Hull City in which Dossena got ripped apart time and again and was responsible for both of Hull’s goals. His performances in second half of the season bore the same tone – good at attacking and crossing, bad at defending. He even showed that he has a decent shot by scoring two good goals. However, an overall poor first season marked meant that he had no future at Liverpool. Youngster Emiliano Insua soon took over the left-back slot and Dossena was able to make just two appearances this season.
All in all, Dossena is far from being the best left-back in Italy. However, his attitude is positive and he is always willing to work hard. The attacking dimension he provides with his crosses is undisputed. Napoli typically employs a 3-5-2 formation. With three central defenders and at least one defensive midfielder, Dossena’s defensive duties will be reduced significantly and he will be able to assume the wing-back role more suited to his characteristics. His defensive capabilities might come to light in the slower, more tactical Serie A. In spite of all the enthusiasm, the move to England did not really work out for Dossena. He could not cope up with the high tempo of the game. The chance to win a spot in the Azzurri for the World Cup should provide him enough motivation to improve on his performances and come good for Napoli.