As reported by Barry Glendenning with The Guardian last week, Italy and Torino centre-back Angelo Ogbonna is being monitored by Manchester United, and may also be subject to a summer bid from Arsenal.
As an aficionado of West African football, I am disappointed that Angelo Ogbonna wasn’t involved in the Africa Cup of Nations as part of the Super Eagles’ defence. But I am always heartened to see players of Nigerian origin prospering in Europe’s major leagues.
In truth, Ogbonna’s decision to represent Italy didn’t come as a surprise. Born in Cassino in May 1988, the defender featured 10 times for the Azzuri U21 side before stepping up to the senior squad in June 2011.
Earmarked by Cesare Prandelli as a long-term feature of the national side’s defence, the centre-back became the first Torino player to be enlisted for Italy in four years. Despite making his debut in October of that year, profiting from a squad ravaged by injuries, chances have been limited since then.
He was a non-playing squad member of the team that strode to the Euro 2012 final, and while Italy aren’t short of options of defence, Ogbonna will surely add to his five caps in the future.
Born in Cassino in the Frosinone province of Italy to Nigerian parents, Ogbonna was recruited to the Torino academy after impressing scouts. Making his debut in 2007, he emerged as a crucial part of the side that earned promotion last season, finishing second in Serie B, but with the best defensive record in the division.
The side are currently holding their own in Serie A, with Ogbonna forging a solid partnership with the complimentary Kamil Glik. While this season may be purely about consolidation, the pair, with experienced Belgian Jean Francois Gillet behind them and the indomitable Alessandro Gazzi protecting them, are only growing in confidence and stature.
While the rest of this season will be spent developing his trade with Toro, Ogbonna has already declared his desire to test his mettle abroad, although Juventus have also been identified as having some interest in him. It has been suggested that the youngster may be a future Italy captain. His composure, sporting nature and maturity would certainly not be out of place at the heart of the Champions’ defence.
The famous anecdote that accompanies him is of an automobile accident in December 2008. Few weather conditions have shaped the history of a club more that that infamous Turin fog and the city’s second side. It nearly had another devastating impact when, with vision impaired, Ogbonna drove his Smart car off a bridge in to the river. The defender was lucky to have survived with his life.
With Manchester United’s ageing back line and Arsenal’s incompetent "stars" soon to be in dire need of a renovation, Ogbonna—quoted as being available for somewhere in the region of €14 million to €20 million—could be a valuable asset to either side.