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Last Updated: Wednesday, 1 February 2006, 07:52 GMT
Tim Vickery column
By Tim Vickery
South American football reporter

Andres D'Alessandro
There is a sense of unfulfilled talent about D'Alessandro

New Portsmouth loan signing Andres d'Alessandro has always reminded me of one of the Bash Street kids.

First because a large head on a spindly body gives him a cartoon appearance. Second because there is a sense of exuberant mischief about his football.

At his best, the Argentine playmaker goes about picking holes in the opposing defence with the relish of a naughty schoolboy letting off the classroom fire extinguisher.

But his best has not been seen for a while.

Twenty-five in April, d'Alessandro's career has stalled after two-and-a-half-years in Germany with Wolfsburg.

Unsurprisingly the stern regime of coach Klaus Augunthaler was not to his liking.

Now Harry Redknapp, who recently complained about the lack of English speaking players at Porstmouth, will need to need to put a smile back on the face of his immensely talented new signing.

There were whispers of d'Alessandro's genius even before he burst his firecrackers all over the 2001 World Youth Cup.

The tournament was held in Argentina, and d'Alessandro began it on the bench. But he soon won a place in both the starting line up and the scouts' notebooks.

Argentina won the title in magnificent style, and d'Alessandro soon showed that he could reproduce his form at senior level.

A few years ago d'Alessandro was wandering around the streets of Buenos Aires delivering pizzas - Now he is the new fascinating flavour to arrive in the Premiership

He had come up the ranks with River Plate, and he now played two high-class years with the Buenos Aires giants.

He was captaining the side at the age of 21, and week-in week-out he was wonderful to watch, with his superb left foot, his uncanny awareness of space and angles, and the ability to mix up the play with his perky dribbles and left-foot passes over long and short range.

Big clubs from Italy and Spain followed his progress, so it was a surprise when he signed for Wolfsburg in the middle of 2003.

Some saw it as a breaking-in period, adjusting to European football at a small club before moving on to a giant. Others worried that he might be too frail for the German game.

Perhaps it is still too early to tell. Only hindsight will reveal whether the move to Portsmouth is a step forwards, sideways or backwards.

The Premiership is high profile in Argentina. D'Alessandro is gambling that getting a regular game will give him the chance to force his way back into the Argentina side.

He was close to winning a place in the 2002 World Cup squad, and seemed a certainty for 2006.

He was a regular in coach Marcelo Bielsa's side when the qualification campaign got underway. But his prospects were hit by a slump in form and a change of coach.

Since Josť Pekerman took over late in 2004 he has hardly featured. His current total is 22 caps and three goals for his country.

But Pekerman knows what he is capable of - he was in charge for the 2001 World Youth Cup win.

If d'Alessandro brings out the Pompey chimes then there still might be time for him to return to Germany in triumph this June.

The stakes are high, then, in the most exciting deal of the January transfer window.

A few years ago d'Alessandro was wandering around the streets of Buenos Aires delivering pizzas. Now he is the new fascinating flavour to arrive in the Premiership.

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12 Jul 05 |  World Football


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