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SerieAWeekly On July - 19 - 2011

The Eternal City Becomes Home To An Angel

As news broke of Roma’s latest signing, Serie A Weekly turned to Spanish football expert David Cartlidge to find out more about a man replacing Fulham-bound John Arne Riise at left-back for the Giallorossi. Here’s his view;

The transition over the years for Spanish players going to Italy and plying their trade has been a one mostly of an underwhelming nature, but a young man from Asturias is looking to add his name to that short list of success stories.

José Ángel, or Cote, as he’s commonly known in Gijón where he played for the passionately supported Sporting, has grew in stature over the last couple of season while marauding up and down the left flank despite his tender years.

After starring for a successful youth side at Sporting he was promoted to the ‘B’ team at the club, where he continued to impress. After going through almost half a season then Coach Manuel Preciado, a regular watcher of Sporting’s youth and subsidiary teams, decided to reward José Ángel’s consistency with a place in an upcoming Copa Del Rey game. It was a double reward, as the start against Real Valladolid came a week after signing his first professional contract with the club, and the 90 minutes he played there were followed up by three further games in the competition of which he played every minute.

His speed and determination were the things first noted as his main characteristics, and the management at Sporting, decided he was ready to play at a full level. His league debut came against Barcelona as a substitute in which he played a part in his side’s only goal before getting his full debut against Villarreal.

From then on there was little looking back as Ruben Canella, another similarly talented young left full-back fell by the way of injury, ‘Cote’ stepped up and grabbed his chance no questions asked showing an assurance that many a young Spanish player performs with these days. Taught at the Sporting academy one of the first things you are educated with is to play with a passion and belief – when asked to step into the first team there was little in the way of anxiety shown.

As a player his aggressive, technically sound, quick nature is backed up by superb physical development which has progressed in a short space of time. Not only fast along the ground he now combines it with power, and this attribute had its uses against competitors who were older and perhaps more street smart than the teenager at the time.

Sporting have switched between a 4-4-2 and 4-2-3-1 in recent seasons, with the latter predominantly requiring forceful, intense support from full backs overlapping wide players who drifted into central areas. His neat and intricate exchanges of play with his team mates too emphasize his willingness to join the attack, while from set pieces or with the ball in motion his left foot is artillery for dangerous delivery.

There was talk amongst the coaching staff at Sporting that Canella or Jose Angel be pushed further on into a left wing role with both players confident going forward, but with the inevitable departure of one it was always going to be a pipe dream of sorts their abilities would be used in tandem.

As well as the aforementioned facets, his passing out of defence is tidy though he could possess slightly more composure at times when in possession. If he could perhaps bring more thought into his game, an attribute key in Italy and which will surely be emphasized upon arrival in Rome, we could see him become a well rounded full-back – and not just a positionally weak one.

An offer from Málaga was accepted back in January for his services but then vetoed by the board after severe fan pressure. His trip to Italy could’ve come sooner too, as Fiorentina saw their bid accepted in the same month only for the player to insist he wasn’t keen to move halfway through the season. Most recently Barcelona and Sporting had been in discussions, but the Gijón-based side grew tired of the Catalans derisory offers.

Former Sporting Gijón academy graduate and idol Luis Enrique will be waiting for him off the plane in Rome and will play a huge part in this new chapter of the players life, in that regard the club have a distinct advantage in further progressing one of Spain’s finest young talents.

Follow David on Twitter here

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