“Popular, productive, entertaining and frustrating” were the words spoken by Gazette writer Anthony Vickers after Diego Fabbrini left Middlesbrough for Blues back in January, and its fair to say his summary was pretty spot on.
When the Italian was brought back to the club by Gary Rowett for £1.5million, supporters were delighted- the former Udinese man had impressed during his first loan stint the season before and quickly became a fan favourite. But his form second time round has been a little more difficult, and he struggled to cement a place in the side, primarily due to the form of Jon Toral.
The problem for the Italian is that expectation was, and still is extremely high. He produced some fantastic performances during his first stint at the club, with his creativity and skill really catching the imagination of the supporters. Add into the mix some good performances for a Middlesbrough side chasing promotion and a seven-figure transfer fee- its clear to see why Blues fans expected so much straight away.
But he’s just not taken off with the same energy as he did last time, and some Blues fans and neutrals are beginning to question Fabbrini’s usefulness in the squad.
But I think some level of caution needs to be applied when it comes to assessing the Italian’s performances in the second half of last season. To begin with, it’s thought he was struggling with a toe injury in at least the first month of his arrival- which would have done little to help his cause. And as aforementioned, the form and constant comparison with Jon Toral, in hindsight, wasn’t that helpful. Toral was in the form of his career and naturally it’s easy to compare the two players who play a similar role.
I think the biggest point here is that the whole of the Blues squad began to falter at the time of Fabbrini’s arrival. I don’t think his signing prompted the turn in form at all, and wholeheartedly believe had he joined earlier he could have helped the start-of season promotion push. I feel he was a little unlucky to join a beleaguering side that was beginning to run out of steam at this stage in the season.
So how do we assess his spell here? By no means was his signing a failure. He struggled to hold down a first-team berth due to the fantastic form of Jon Toral, but with the Spaniard now back at Arsenal and no news suggesting he could re-join the Blues, this could be the season for Fabbrini to settle.
He definitely won’t be consigned to the list of anonymous signings who have flopped completely- remember Navid Nasseri, Guy Moussi or Brian Howard? Nor us.
Give the Italian time, a little patience and some support from the stands and I believe he can go on and do well for the club.
Images: WatfordObserver, ITV,