SAM BONA FIDE PROSPECT FOR SERIE A
By Rupert Webster
Last Updated: 01/01/70 1:00am
Dalla Bona made himself a regular in the Chelsea line-up midway through the 2000-01 campaign, after Gianluca Vialli was sacked and replaced with former Valencia coach Claudio Ranieri.
Vialli had promised the former Italian under 18 captain he would feature prominently in the line-up last term, and fortunately for Dalla Bona new coach Ranieri also saw his young compatriot as an integral part of his new-look Blues team. Indeed Dalla Bona's emergence paved the way for the older generation of players at Stamford Bridge, such as Gus Poyet and Dennis Wise, to leave the club earlier in the summer.
After coming off the bench in Chelsea's thrilling 3-3 draw at Old Trafford in September - Ranieri's first game in charge of the club - the ex-Atalanta player started his first game in Chelsea's 3-0 drubbing of Liverpool. He then showed how potent he can be in the opposition half with two quality goals against Everton and Bradford, while he had already registered three goal assists by New Year.
As well as displaying some great creativity in midfield, Dalla Bona also showed a penchant for the physical side of the game, something that endeared him to Blues fans enormously. Over the course of the 2000-01 campaign, the 20-year-old Italian made a century of tackles - more than any other midfielder at the club, Wise included - and came out with the ball in 69 of them.
However, Dalla Bona has made no secret of his desire to ply his trade back in his homeland at some stage of his career. This is because he feels that playing in Serie A will boost his international chance. There is evidence does suggest that Dalla Bona's hunch is accurate, as team-mates Roberto Di Matteo and Gianfranco Zola have both endured long international exiles after moving to the Premiership, despite the players enjoying great success with the Blues.
Dalla Bona even stated earlier in the summer that his dream has been to play for Turin giants Juventus. However, it is Inter Milan who have lodged a reported £6 million bid for Dalla Bona's services and it appears likely that he will make the switch in the very near future.
Inter had a disappointing campaign in 2000-01, but Brazilian superstar Ronaldo should be fully recovered from his injury woes by the start of the new term and the appointment of Valencia manager Hector Cuper also bodes well for the future. Dalla Bona's addition to the squad would mean Cuper will have one of the best all-round midfielders the country has produced in years.