In the run-up to Euro 2016, Football Italia will be asking who Antonio Conte should select in his Italy squad. Matteo Calautti fights Davide Astori’s corner.
Born in 1987 in San Giovanni Bianco, near Bergamo, Davide Astori came through Milan’s youth system before moving to Pizzighettone and Cremonese in order to gain experience in the lower divisions.
The turning point of his career was when he decided to go to Sardinia. In a Cagliari shirt he became an immovable regular benefiting from the trust of Massimiliano Allegri, the present Juventus Coach. During his last months in the Italian island, he was selected as Rossoblù captain before moving on to Roma on loan.
His new adventure with Rudi Garcia’s Roma wasn’t so easy. A series of poor – though not disastrous – performances saw the Giallorossi opt against signing him, and he returned to Cagliari.
Clearly too good to drop down to Serie B, it appeared that the centre-back would be moving to Napoli, but the move collapsed and he instead moved north to Florence.
The way Fiorentina Coach Paulo Sousa’ sets his team up is useful for the centre-back, because it allows him to show his full range of ability. “I feel better with Sousa than with Garcia”, Astori admitted in an interview with Guerin Sportivo. He also said that his present Coach “studies the next fixtures in details and explains what will happen during them”. It is perhaps this studious approach which has seen Astori cut-out the mistakes which have blighted his game on occasion.
He is not simply a stopper. Astori, beyond being able to intercept the ball quickly in order to break up opposition moves is confident with the ball at his feet, stepping out of his position and into midfield with his head up, looking for a pass. These attributes mean he could be Antonio Conte’s backup to Leonardo Bonucci in the Italian national team. Looking at the current crop of Italian centre-backs, there are few who offer the experience and reliability that Astori can bring to the table.
Astori has experience of tournament football, thanks to his participation in the 2013 Confederations Cup in Brazil, the play-off of which brought his first Azzurri goal, against Uruguay. That was the first goal a Cagliari player had scored for Italy since the great Gigi Riva.
The Fiorentina defender shouldn’t be expected to head to France as a starter, but he could offer a readymade replacement for Leonardo Bonucci in case of injury or suspension.
Published on Football Italia in 26/04/2016.
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