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Exports from Serie A maybe few and far between but the ripples made by those who ply their trade away from home is certainly felt back on the peninsula – maybe not always for the right reasons, but nonetheless, Italians made their presence known across Europe.

As last season’s Premiership campaign started, all eyes were on Manchester City as Roberto Mancini sought to garner glory from an embarrassment of riches. Expectation weighed heavy on ‘Mister Mancini’ and throughout the campaign he fought to coerce a disparate bunch of egos and nationalities. By Christmas it looked probably that want away star Carlos Tevez had played his last game for City but the Argentinean remained and to good effect.

The Eastlands side secured a first trophy in over thirty years and more importantly finished fourth and thus qualified for next season’s Champions League. Despite earning few plaudits, largely due to the incomparable wealth at his disposal, it would be unfair to not credit Mancini who if nothing else, converted wealth into winning with tangible reward.

Still at Eastlands, many observers felt that the signing of calcio’s ‘enfant terrible’, Mario Balotelli would be Mancini’s undoing, and so it nearly proved. The precocious forward supplied media scribes with no shortage of column inches as he ran through a full repertoire of good, bad and indeed ugly.

Injury and suspension blighted much of Mario’s first Premiership campaign, with just seventeen appearances made in all competitions. Despite a curtailed campaign however, Balotelli scored six goals and showed flashes of his brilliant best, mitigating two red cards and off-field shenanigans which culminated in a much publicised ‘dart throwing’ incident.

What next season holds for Balotelli is hard to fathom, and while City’s owners will keep faith with Mancini, Mario could be reduced to a squad player as the Manchester club inevitably strengthens throughout this summer. Already Balotelli’s behaviour has robbed him of Azzurri appearances and until he fully matures it would be hard to see him as a mainstay for either club or country. That said, a focused Balotelli would be hard to ignore as on his day, Mario can hold his own with football’s elite.

By contrast, Guiseppe Rossi has enjoyed a halcyon season in the yellow of Villarreal, finishing as ‘los submarinos’ leading striker with one third of Villareal’s 54-goals. Rossi’s assuredness in front of goal helped propel the Castéllon side to a fourth place finish, but whether the Azzurri forward will remain to assist with Champions League duties is debatable, and seemingly unlikely.

Just as Barcelona’s Gerard Piqué prospered once released by Manchester United; Guiseppe Rossi has too blossomed away from Old Trafford. Interestingly, if recent speculation proves credible, the two former teammates could soon be reunited at the Nou Camp as Barcelona are rumoured to want Rossi’s signature.

Rossi’s ascendancy can only be good news for Azzurri tifosi and the prospect of him playing for the world’s best club side should indeed be music to Prandelli’s ears. The experience can only hone Guiseppe’s evident ability further, and it stands to reason that the national team will benefit as a direct consequence.

Staying in Spain and it has been an uncomfortable year for Sevilla’s loan signing Luca Cigarini who appeared just five times for the La Liga side. On loan from Napoli it seems that neither his parent club, or indeed the Spanish side want the midfielder, and a return to newly promoted Atlanta is being mooted. Seemingly this is one player for whom the export experiment has failed and a return to Serie A will hopefully see Cigarini properly rekindle a highly promising career.

We now look towards Russia where Salvatore Bocchetti makes an unlikely home in the Russian Premier League, playing for Rubin Kazan. The former Genoa defender is now into his second season with the former Champions League contenders and already has amassed more appearances this season than last campaign’s handful of games. Thankfully for Salvatore, former Nerazzuri forward Obafemi Martins had been an early teammate, but with the Nigerian on loan at Birmingham City, Bocchetti is ploughing a lonely Italian furrow in Russia and his progress will be fascinating to monitor with the Russian season running throughout Serie A’s off season.

Finally, it would be remiss not to mention Carlo Ancelotti who was unceremoniously sacked as Chelsea manager after a trophy-less season. Ultimately, Carletto’s demise says more about owner Roman Abramovich than it does about the former Milan tactician - the former displaying a bemusing lack of vision and a propensity to detrimentally meddle despite Ancelotti’s credentials as evidenced by a gilt edged palmares.

Now, despite being in significant demand, Carlo has elected to take a year away from football and although promising to one day manage Roma, his next move will be in a watching capacity and only abject failure by Roma’s new coach Luis Enrique could possibly alter Ancelotti’s immediate plans.

In retrospect, Guiseppe Rossi is the export who has made the peninsula most proud while an honourable mention must be given to Roberto Mancini who successfully endured a tumultuous, pressure packed campaign. Meanwhile, for Balotelli it’s a case of must do better, a time to ‘grow up and show up’ and earn his place amongst the Azzurri. Thereafter, credit has to be given to Salvatore Bocchetti in what can only be described as a brave and unorthodox move to Russia.

With Cigirani leaving Sevilla the number of Italian exports looks likely to further diminish, but with Mancini and Rossi competing at European football’s top table, the peninsula influence could resonate longer and louder than before.

Stuart Harper

Freelance sports writer covering football, calcio & futbol. A Villa, Roma & Barca fan. Cycling too.

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  • Martha

    It must be mentioned that Bocchetti is scoring much more freely in Russia than he did in Italy (no to mention more freely than Martins did with Rubin), and seems quite settled in with Rubin — he’s skilled with languages and is picking up Russian quickly, has many South American teammates (he already spoke Spanish), and appears to be quite popular with the team and Rubin’s fans. I’m a Serie A and Azzurri fan, but it would be a disappointment to me if the rumors about him coming home are true.

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