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Could it be too much too soon as Francesco Grandolfo departs home to become a Flying Donkey?

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By Andrew Harding

Thursday 08 September 2011

Transfer deadline day saw a plethora of deals being made and it was easy to lose track with all the player movement. One transfer that seemed to go under the popularity radar was the loan transfer of Francesco Grandolfo. The 19 year-old Italian striker moved from relegated Bari back to Serie A with Chievo. It’s a move which is made all the more remarkable when looked at closer.

Grandolfo resembled a beacon of hope for the sporting future of Bari last season. The club were already relegated when he was handed his debut by Coach Bortolo Mutti but Grandolfo seized the opportunity in sensational fashion and would score a hat-trick for i Galletti against Bologna at the end of last season which was his first start in senior football. A return of three goals in just 118 minutes of competitive football is some. He had been a regular scorer for Bari’s Primavera team but there are many players who’ve excelled below the first team only to fail when thrust into the spotlight of the senior side, if even given the opportunity at all. He had succeeded, but with the season’s conclusion, his abilities would remain in question until the new season.

Bari’s circumstances meant that players were effectively playing for professional pride rather than extending the club’s tenure in Serie A. Such circumstances could be seen as an ideal opportunity to blood youngsters and in the case of Grandolfo, it paid off. As the new season approached, it appeared that he would be made a key man for i Galletti and that in Serie B, he would have time to get used to the rigours of competitive senior football away from the pressurised atmosphere of the top-flight.

His deadline-day move to Chievo is surprising and while some may label it ambitious from the youngster, there are those who believe it to be a misguided move. Grandolfo is only 19 years of age and joins a club with more established forwards particularly in the case of likely starting duo, new acquisition Alberto Paloschi and Mussi Volanti icon Sergio Pelissier. To supplant either of those as well as fending off the competition of another new signing, Cyril Thereau will be a tall order for him and while he comes with glowing reports from his local club and fresh from his cameo role at the end of last season, he has only played in three games at senior level.

There is potential there as he displayed in his confident performances for Bari. His substitute appearances were admittedly brief but he did not look out of place and his performance against Bologna was impressive regardless of his hat-trick.

The confident nature of his move away from home is something to be applauded but at the same time, such a move could jeopardise his progress. It just might be too much too soon for a player so young and while there is that faithful adage of there being time on his side, a year in the wilderness could unsettle the good work that has gone into his career at this early stage.

It is nonetheless a loan move so should things not work out in Verona then Grandolfo can return to Bari with more top-flight experience under his belt and hopefully with a few lesson learned. Should he be given a sufficient opportunity in Verona then those three games with Bari may end up being just a memory for him and i Galletti.

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