The big-name signing on the south coast has always been open and honest about his flaws but his relationship with Mauricio Pochettino has brought success in the past
By Kris Voakes
The person who sums up Pablo Daniel Osvaldo best is the Italo-Argentine himself. "I am a bit of a lunatic. I fight, I score, I react, but I do everything to excess."
But any thoughts that Southampton's new €15.1 million signing may calm down on the south coast should be tempered with further Osvaldo confessions.
"I was forced to grow up but there's a part of me that rejects the idea of growing up," he told La Repubblica in December 2012. "I make pointless fouls but, at that moment, they seem right.
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While footballers sometimes enjoy talking up their rebellious side, there is plenty of evidence to support Osvaldo’s opinion of himself. He once punched team-mate Erik Lamela for failing to pass to him against Udinese, winning him a club fine and 10-day suspension as well as the 'Tapiro d'Oro' (Golden Pig) award from a TV current affairs show.
More recently, Osvaldo was exiled from the Italy squad at the Confederations Cup for his reaction to being given only a short run-out by Roma coach Aurelio Andreazzoli in the Coppa Italia final against Lazio. When Andreazzoli said that there was "nothing new" to Osvaldo's stroppy behaviour, the striker tweeted that his boss should "admit he's incompetent and go celebrate with the Laziali".
But he is also right when he declares that "I score". Osvaldo is one of the most 'English' centre forwards in the game today. Strong in the challenge, powerful in the air with an excellent hold-up game and an eye for goal, the former Espanyol man has all the attributes regularly expected of a Premier League striker. Add in a serious amount of self-belief and the ability to produce the odd wonder-goal, and Osvaldo becomes a real weapon.
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"I play better when I'm happy," Osvaldo observed during his stay in Spain, "and in Italy I wasn't happy. There, unless you score 15 goals in three games you get dropped. Here I don't feel the pressure and I have fun. I need to feel important at a club."
Despite scoring 28 goals in 57 matches for Roma over the last two years, his various run-ins have meant that he hasn't been quite as settled in the Eternal City as he was under Pochettino in Catalunya. He even apologised to Espanyol fans soon after his €15m transfer to Italy, such was his affinity with the club, saying that his departure had happened too soon to say a proper goodbye to an outfit to whom he had felt a real connection.
His move to St Mary's Stadium gives him the opportunity to rekindle a relationship that was arguably the most productive of his career so far and, if Pochettino can once again get Osvaldo playing with a smile on his face, then Saints fans could be in for some excesses of their own.
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