Michele Camporese 20 DefenderFiorentina
Let’s look at this one on a hypothetical basis first.
Michele…sorry, let’s call him ‘Player A’, joins a club as a youngster and makes his way through their youth system. Along the way he finds his true position as a defender, picks up plenty of caps at varying international youth levels, is praised for making good progress and then the big one comes - a first team debut while still a teenager (usually in a cup competition as Player A’s was).
Just 18 and finding himself then playing a full half against Milan on his league debut a week or two later at the San Siro, Player A then makes a few more appearances as cover as and when required. The question is, what happens next?
Well we know don’t we – Player A is playing first team football at the age of 18 in a top division so immediately must be linked to bigger and better clubs, must be likened to a player it’s impossible to live up to and as a defender, must be praised by the management as ‘a future captain’. These are the rules and will ever be thus, the wonderful @FootballCliches continues to make a Twitter living reminding us of such footballing absolutes.
And so now you have a window into the thinking that went into Michele Camporese’s inclusion in the 100 for 2012 - the signs were all there after all.
He had a little run of games towards the end of the 2010/11 season and was suitably praised as a ball-playing defender who was quick, calm and strong. Coach Sinisa Mihajlovic likened him to Aldair (no pressure there then) and called him a leader, great things were predicted all round, scouts dispatched accordingly. Naturally strong and imposing, he looked in glimpses like he had the talent to make it in Serie A and develop quite nicely.
And then what happened you say? Well, to quote 80s magician Paul ‘husband of Debbie McGee’ Daniels - ‘not a lot’.
A handful of fleeting appearances for La Viola and he’s drifted so far from the side that this season to date, he’s yet to feature in any capacity. Over the summer the axe and cheque-book were wielded in equal measure in Florence but Camporese was spared the exit door having signed a new 5-year contract earlier in the year. The huge turnaround of players left him fighting with Ahmed Hegazy and Stefan Savic for the fringe positions while Gonzalo Rodriguez and Facundo Roncaglia remain first choice for the foreseeable future. Four players to get past to get a run to the first team – we’re all for competition for places but this almost has echoes of the current situation John Guidetti finds himself in at Manchester City.
A lot of the hype around Camporese came from his debut against Milan where he performed well in a half spent marking Zlatan Ibrahimovic. One swallow has not this summer made and since then there’s been a steady stream of nothing of note. He was included in the 100 for the level of people who considered him a player with huge potential and the right noises were being made in the right places. On reflection it now feels as if some (IBWM included) were caught up in the initial hype.
He is young and there is loads of time, but at the moment he’s being forgotten. The worrying thing is the lack of any fuss - yes his agent has been quoted as saying he’s happy to stay and fight for a place but he’s 20 years of age. This is a point where as a defender he needs to be honing his craft and making those mistakes he’ll learn so much from while he has the excuse of inexperience. These are his formative years where each game brings something new, at the moment they are being wasted.
He should be asking for a loan at least, a season long one next year at that, and he should be acting up a bit to make sure everyone knows he’s not happy to just settle for reserve team action. His manager and coaching staff should be sick of him asking for a chance and while we’d never condone a player going to the press, internally at Fiorentina there should be no doubt that he wants game time as soon as possible.
Players need to play, particularly defenders where the nuances just can’t be learnt in training situations. He may have a new contract at the club where he has spent his entire professional career to date but he needs to get out of his comfort zone and quickly. An Italian youth international career is realistically all he’s clinging to at the minute and as it stands, picking him for our 100 was a mistake. It may be he needs to go down a level, it may be he can forge a career in Serie A if he can enjoy a successful loan spell somewhere, either way it’s time to do something.
Many a generic David Brent-inspired boardroom has the poster carrying the message ‘if you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always got’. While we would never ask you to think outside the box or pester you for some blue sky ideas, it may well be worth translating this phrase into Italian and passing it under Michele Camporese’s door.
"Hard to see him breaking in now unless there are a considerable number of injuries at the same time, if there's a food poisoning outbreak in Florence, I'm not saying he did it but, y'know..."- Rocco Cammisola (Italian Football Correspondent)
E Seven appearances and less than 500 minutes of first-team football in the year - it’s not happening at the moment, change something before it’s too late