The Fate of Antonio Cassano
If he were an opera star, he would be il divo. If he were an American sports star, he would be called a prima dona (yes, Americans don’t speak other languages well) and be compared to Terrell Owens or various NBA figures. If he was a politician, he would rise to stratospheric heights only to quickly fall to the ground. In brief, il Talentino di Bari is a great calcio talent, but a head case and a pain for his managers. The story of his temper is, to put it politely, .
This week Italian national team manager Marcello Lippi refused to call up Cassano for two friendly matches against the Netherlands and Sweden. Cassano’s stat line for international matches is not exciting, having not scored a goal since 2004. However, he has done well for Sampdoria so far this year, notching six assists and a goal for the surprising squad.
But it is likely due to his latest outburst that he is on the outside looking in. After his team’s 0-0 draw with Bari (his hometown) that saw Sampdoria drop to third in the Serie A standings, Cassano threatened to leave his team after he was booed mercilessly by some of the Sampdoria fans. “In the past three or four matches the supporters have jeered me at times. Sampdoria are second in the standings and certainly should not be chasing Inter,” he said according to Goal.com. “I did it in Rome and I also did it in Madrid. If this keeps happening I will pack my suitcases and leave from here.”
Surprisingly, that quote did not warm the hearts of Sampdoria faithful. What may have excited them was the almost immediate report that EPL club West Ham had an interest in him, as fellow Italian Gianfranco Zola is keen on bringing such a talent (and personality) to his club.
To his credit, Sampdoria President Ricardo Garrone has defended Cassano from his fans’ boos and from the exclusion from the Italian national team. But if Cassano’s goals are to win the scudetto and make the Italian national team, it may be best that he leave this toxic situation. A transfer to the EPL would probably not work, as he would play for another high-profile club, and that experiment has failed before.
Plus it would remove him from the Italian soccer scene. He would probably be best served on a team with an adoring and uncritical fan base where he could lead the club to European competition qualification. It would have to be in Italy so he could be right under the nose of the Italian national team. And he would have to be the biggest name on the club.
Should Cassano play for….Bari?