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Bologna’s talented young full-back Adam Masina has caught the eye during the first half of the season in Serie A. He has helped the newly promoted club to seven wins so far and they are seven points clear of the relegation zone and looking good to retain their top flight status.
Despite only turning 22 last week, he has already had plenty of ups and downs as a footballer. Moroccan born Masina was a striker throughout his youth career, but was struggling to make a big impression at Bologna and was loaned out to tiny Giacomense for the 2012-13 season.
It was there that his dramatic transition from forward to attack-minded left back took place and it was a switch that has really worked out well for the player.
On his return to Bologna he struggled initially to break into the first-team though and didn’t make a single appearance during the 2013-14 season, but Bologna’s relegation to Serie B granted Masina his chance in the face of much less competition in that position.
Last season was the first time he really got to showcase his talents on anything like the big stage and Masina impressed with both his defensive qualities and anticipation as well as the threat he carried going forward.
He helped guide Bologna to promotion via the play-offs by making 28 appearances in all but he still wasn’t a guaranteed starter so the ease with which he has cemented his place in the side this year and looked at home at the higher level is extremely impressive.
Speed merchant with a strong physical presence
Masina’s roots as a centre-forward mean he isn’t your typical full-back. He lacks the lightening pace that is commonly associated with the position in the modern game and at 189cm he isn’t built like a wide player but his physical presence has helped strengthen a Bologna back four that has the best defensive record in the bottom six.
However he is still primarily an attack-minded player and has scored twice and assisted three goals so far this season so he is clearly someone who likes to get involved in the final third of the pitch and is capable of doing so with real purpose.
His performances have caught the eye of the Italian national set-up and he was called up by Luigi Di Biagio into the Italy Under-21 squad for the first time in November and featured for 24 minutes in the win over Lithuania.
Senior international football on the horizon
He certainly has the qualities to play full international football and could still opt to play for the country of his birth, Morocco rather than Italy despite his Under 21 call-up.
There is still room for improvement in his game, but given Masina’s relative inexperience as a defender his progress has been rapid over the past 12 months and he is certainly somebody to keep an eye on in 2016.
Written by Mark Sochon
Follow Mark on Twitter @tikitakagol
Check out his brilliant blog on all things La Liga, Tiki-Taka-Gol!
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