Eric Giardini on Michael Bradley’s southbound move
That was my initial reaction to reading that Michael Bradley was joining Chievo Verona in Italy in an undisclosed move that was announced today. (The deal is rumored to be for two years).
Not the place I was predicting when hearing that Bradley was angling for a move to England with, preferably, the chance to play on those European nights that everyone dreams of. Instead, what he got is neither and I’m left scratching my head.
The move makes a great deal of sense for the Chievo. For the relatively low price of 2m Euros, they get a young, internationally-experienced midfielder that can slot in almost immediately and play loads of minutes – especially with midfield stalwart Kévin Constant and his 32 appearances last season moving on to Genoa.
In Bradley, Chievo also gets a player that won’t necessarily need a long time to fit into their style of play. Chievo, under manager Domenico Di Carlo, tend to line up in a 4-4-2 formation with a midfield diamond. With the departures of Constant and Gelson Fernandes (to Leicester City) there are minutes that need to be filled and Bradley can do that either from the defense midfield position or the trequarista - a role similar to the one he played during his time in Holland.
I see it more being the former because he doesn’t fit the role as used in Italy (think Totti, del Piero, etc. someone who can create on their own) and it has been so long since he’s played it consistently that he’d be better used in a more familiar deep-lying, holding position.
On the other hand, this is a lateral move, if that, for Bradley. He moves to a provincial club in the north of Italy in a suburb of Verona with a population of about 4,500. I only mention this as a positive for him.
Had he moved to Napoli as was rumored at the beginning of summer, he’d be in a city with close to one million residents, a large percentage of them argent supporters. He would also be dealing with a club with Scudetto aspirations as well as participation in Champions League. While I have no doubt that is exactly what he wants, I think it just isn’t in the cards for him yet as he hasn’t been exposed to that sort of scrutiny in either of his previous stops.
In Chievo, things will be less pressurized for his first stop in Serie A.
The 11th place finish that the club had last season is about what supporters expect. Anything higher is considered great. Anything lower…well, just don’t make it too low.
Tactically, Bradley’s positioning and awareness should also benefit from playing in Italy as Chievo will be underdogs in a good number of their matches which will put added emphasis on staying in position and being sound defensively – both items that will translate well to the national team.
Professionally, I can’t see him getting much from this move. He will not be battling for a European spot and, to be honest, will be closer to the relegation zone. Playing against Milan or Inter at the San Siro in the Sunday night fixture with the eyes of the nation, and world, on you is what makes playing in Serie A special. Playing a Saturday noontime fixture on a mud-covered pitch in Lecce in January isn’t. The only question I have remaining is what the other clubs from Germany, England, Spain, Russia, Belgium, and Greece that were interested in Bradley, according to his agent.