Madness and magic from Maradona’s motherland
With Torres and Carroll dominating the headlines, several other transfers involving English clubs were largely ignored and exiled to the inner pages. There is, however, a fascinating aspect to one deal that finally went through on Monday.
Just what are Blackburn expecting from their new Argentinian, Mauro Formica?
Now, FourFourTwo doesn’t employ certain investigative tactics used by some sectors of the British media, so cannot read a transcription of the conversations at Ewood Park regarding Formica. It is clear, however, that there was some confusion. Or doublespeak. Or bending of the truth.
As Blackburn’s interest in Formica emerged, Kean was out in front of the media describing the player as "the next Gabriel Batistuta". Perhaps Kean cannot, and should not, be expected to give a full detailed appraisal of every single player Blackburn are looking at. But it is someone’s job to know exactly who they were trying to buy, and exactly what type of player he is.
It’s not as if they were pushed into a last-day-of-the-transfer-window-deadline corner and forced to sign him. Formica’s move took weeks to complete. It was a footballing telenovela in all its glory that earned itself a twitter hashtag ‘The Cat’s Soap Opera’ as it slowly unravelled. Newell’s desperately needed to sell Formica to balance the books, but the saga ran on and on.
First The Cat was off to Galatasaray (to shorten a long story, we'll not name clubs that were only ‘interested’). Then he was in Genoa ready to sign, but according to Newell’s the Italians simply weren’t playing cricket over the deal.
Back training with Newell’s, Formica was then supposedly heading to Blackburn, on loan via Red Star Belgrade. But Formica himself wasn’t particularly pleased with that arrangement. Then Monaco stepped in, and were even said to have photos of their new man in the strip, before Blackburn struck up a new and improved deal with Newell’s taking him up to Lancashire with the paperwork finally going through on the final day of the transfer window.
Clearly, what with all the interest, Formica is highly rated and Blackburn rightly believe they have pulled off something of a coup, having signed one of the most exciting players from the Argentine league.
The only problem is that judging who they are likening Formica to, they seem to think they are signing a muscular 6ft 1in line-leading centre forward who scores every other game. In fact, they are buying a 5ft 9in creative midfielder who chips in with a goal every four games.
Comparisons are inevitable, especially when fans haven’t seen much of a player, as tends to be the case when they move from South America to Europe. Robinho was The Next Pele when he joined Real Madrid from Santos. We already have The Next Messi – he goes by the name of Juan Iturbe. The list of Next Maradonas is encyclopaedic in length.
But it's one thing comparing a player with a former great based on physique, their position or style, or even who their mentor as a youngster was. It's quite another to grab a name from the canon of greats based purely on nationality. Yes, both Formica and Batistuta are Argentine and yes, both started out at Newell’s Old Boys, but the similarities end there.
Formica works best in an advanced midfield role, perhaps even as a second striker at a push. He will perhaps enjoy being surrounded by players that do not expect him to win games alone, as essentially happened at Newell’s. But then working against him will be the pressure of fans’ expectation that he can immediately reproduce the form he showed in Argentina in a faster and stronger league.
There is no reason that Mauro Formica should not a success in the Premier League. Perhaps he will go onto achieve great things at Blackburn and in years to come we’ll be talking about the Next Formica. Just don’t be surprised if the Next Formica turns out to be a left-back.
Au usual, to complement your great words, a little podcast about southam footie. Keep the good work going!
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