The curious case of Pablo Osvlado

When looking through the transfer business of Premier League clubs over the last couple of years, it would be hard to pick a team that has went about their recruitment more successfully than Southampton.

The St Mary’s outfit have consolidated their promotion to the top flight in 2012 with a number of campaigns of overachievement – with the players brought to the club key to the Saints becoming a top-half team.

From the likes of Dejan Lovren to Graziano Pellè, Dušan Tadić to Victor Wanyama, Southampton have an almost flawless record of bringing excellent players to the club that have contributed to the side’s success.

However, one exception to the sparkling transfer business conducted by Nigel Adkins, Mauricio Pochettino and Ronald Koeman has been the August 2013 capture of Pablo Daniel Osvaldo.

The Argentine-born Italy international became the Saints’ record signing upon moving to the South coast of England and holds that distinction still.

Despite arriving in England with a solid track record, international pedigree and a reputation of goals, the striker was released by Southampton on a free transfer yesterday, despite the 29-year-old having two years remaining on his deal with the club.

As in his time at both Espanyol and Roma, when Osvaldo was in the mood at Southampton he was brilliant.

Probably the most positive memory the St Mary’s faithful will have of the Italian was his strike against Manchester City in December 2013, scoring an audacious effort from range.

The stage appeared set at this stage for Osvaldo to go on and become a real threat in a Southampton side that would repeatedly punch above its weight and upset some of the biggest teams in English football.

However, with Osvaldo controversy is never too far away and it was the centre forward’s temperament that has seen him chased out of St Mary’s and cost him a place in the Azzurri set-up.

Those that are closest to the Argentine-born attacker will not have been overly surprised by a number of moments of ill-discipline that transformed Osvaldo into a pariah at Southampton.

Pablo OsvladoFirstly involvement in a touch-line fracas against Newcastle saw the 29-year-old banned for three games for violent conduct, before a training ground incident with José Fonte all-but ended his time in England.

Southampton suspended and then ostracised Osvaldo after the Argentine-born striker head-butted the Portuguese defender; loan spells at Juventus, Inter and Boca Juniors followed.

This mad streak was not an isolated incident and Pochettino will have known what he was getting with Osvaldo from the pair’s time together at Espanyol.

Roma were seemingly quick to part company with an Italy international forward in his prime who had scored 16 times in Serie A the season prior; the player’s attitude clearly had a role to play in this.

Osvaldo had been suspended by the Giallorossi previously for an altercation with team-mate Erik Lamela, who felt the wrath of the striker’s anger after not passing him the ball by receiving a punch to the face in the Roma dressing room.

It appears that Osvaldo is destined to be remembered as a flawed talent; a player that could well have been a world-beater if he had been able to keep his temperament in check.

Described by experienced Serie A coach Zdeněk Zeman as ‘a force of nature’, there is no doubting that an Osvaldo in the right mind frame is a dangerous animal.

However, despite still only being 29 and now available on a free transfer, suitors will have to carefully weigh up whether this explosive star is worth the gamble.

By
I am a freelance football journalist from Northern Ireland living in Broome in Western Australia. I have worked for top media outlets such as FourFourTwo, goal.com, Soccerlens, Football Fancast and Here is the City. I am a lifelong and long-suffering Tottenham fan. Follow me on Twitter at @90MinsOnline
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