Player of the Season nominees: Andrea Barzagli
With the season having ended, Sportskeeda decided to let its viewers rate the30 best players of the season.
We will be shortlisting 30 of the best performers this term, and let you pick your winner.
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Today, Andrea Barzagli cannot be categorized as an unheard of commodity; but a few years ago, he was never in contention to be one of the first names to come off our heads when asked to name top European defenders. Such is his enigmatic aura that despite always being a prominent figure in the Serie A, he never established his dominance till he joined Juventus in 2011.
After enduring spells at Chievo, Palermo and Wolfsburg, Barzagli finally seemed to settle in at the Bianconeri. From a total mess in the Bundesliga, to being labeled as the “Iron Man” of Juventus, Barzagli has enjoyed a merry-go-around affair with world football. But for a player who signed for €600,000 to don the Black and White of the Old Lady, Barzagli has proved to be one of the wisest investments of the 2010s.
The centre-back was born in the little known town of Fiesole, Italy. Playing for the semi-professional side of Rondinella Calcio, Barzagli first raised eyebrows for his ability to last an entire game and not tire out.
He moved around smaller clubs until he was snagged by Serie A outfit Chievo Verona, who brought him on in a 1-1 draw against Brescia in 2003. For about four years, he then plied his trade at Palermo and began to start games on a regular basis. Then he was shipped to Wolfsburg, where his performances and popularity began to diminish. In the January transfer window of 2011, Juventus picked him up as a backup centre-back. Since the arrival of coach Antonio Conte at the club, Barzagli has transformed into an astute and versatile defender who now starts regularly for both club and country.
Fresh off an unbeaten league season in 2011-12, Juventus were favourites to recapture their title. Barzagli was slotted in as starting centre-back, where he would be the pivotal force in set pieces as the primary man marker. With Giorgino Chiellini and Leonardo Bonucci, he forged one of the most monumental centre-half partnerships that saw the team top the league since the second week.
In several games this past season, Barzagli’s composure in keeping up with the opponent’s attack earned him praise, especially how he could effortlessly break up play. He was also put in the spotlight for his ability to read the opponents movement and put in tackles to curtail runs in the penalty box. Games against AC Milan and Napoli evinced how Barzagli held his calm even against the likes of Alessandro Pato and Edinson Cavani.