Giuseppe Rossi is undoubtedly coming off the worst season of his career so far. While the La Liga star should have been taking up a prominent role for Italy at this summer’s Euros, Rossi is instead recovering from an injury which will now see him miss at least 12 months of football.
There shouldn’t be any doubt that Villarreal would have avoided relegation this past season (probably by a considerable distance) had Rossi been an ever-present in their squad. The Italy international was ruled out of action last October by tearing his right ACL and has suffered a further setback on the path to recovery.
But with Villarreal now competing in the second tier of Spanish football, and only 12 months removed from being courted by Barcelona, should Premier League clubs look to reignite their interest in one of La Liga’s deadliest strikers?
I’m inclined to write-off Rossi’s time with English football—there was nothing significant during his time with Manchester United and Newcastle to suggested he’d be this good in front of goal. Talented of course, but few would have projected him to be a 30 goal-a-season striker. But since moving to Villarreal, he’s never looked out of place as a striker capable of leading the line for any club. Villarreal, while relegated now, did enjoy the admiration of having one of La Liga’s most impressive starting lineups. Rossi’s form two seasons ago was wonderful and breathtaking, not only helping but ensuring the club finished in the top four behind Valencia and the two usual suspects.
Maybe last season would have panned out differently for him if Barcelona had opted for the Italian instead of Udinese’s Alexis Sanchez. Villarreal were certainly banking on it. But the pursuit from Barcelona should open the door for a number of other suitors as an indication of just how good Rossi is and can continue to be.
The Premier League should never be overstocked with the outstanding; one of La Liga’s former stars managed to clinch the league title for Manchester City in Hollywood fashion, and there’s a sense that Rossi could make a similar impact as Sergio Aguero.
The underlying worrying, however, will be whether Rossi can regain the form prior to his injury. There’s no guarantee that 12 months out of the game can simply be dusted away through intense training and preparation. The injury, of course, would then have a double blow on Villarreal, who would be hoping to receive maximum payout from any sale of their star forward.
But like with any striker, his success in front of goal usually goes hand-in-hand with a midfield partner able to offer him his chances at goal. Santi Cazorla and, at times, Borja Valero were Rossi’s wingmen, counting on the Italian striker’s movement and technical excellence in the final third and turning Villarreal into a very successful outfit. No longer were the Submarine destined to sink and then resurface later on in the league table; they had enough to ensure regular pushes for European football.
There was a time when Villarreal were considered to be the team to challenge the might of Barcelona and Real Madrid. Ok, they don’t have the financial backing, nor does their stadium resemble a coliseum for the Gods (El Madrigal only holds 25,000.) But they had the football. They had the incredible passing, the unbelievable movement and triangles that you’d only normally associate with Barcelona. They also had a rising superstar in their attack to finish their many, many chances.
The departure of Manuel Pellegrini to Real Madrid, of Santi Cazorla last summer and the subsequent injury to Giuseppe Rossi ended that. The Yellow Submarine might not rise to the surface of La Liga for many years, but Rossi should be afforded a second chance on England’s stage.
Rossi has surpassed Diego Forlan’s goal scoring record at Villarreal, and alongside Cazorla, the duo were comfortably considered the best talents in La Liga outside of those from Barcelona and Real Madrid.
There’s no telling how great Rossi’s recent injury will impact his abilities on the pitch. But if his previous exploits for Villarreal are anything to go by, there is a player who could become a crown jewel for most of the Premier League’s top clubs.