|Matteo Ferrari - Defender|
David Moyes finally made the much-vaunted move for Matteo Ferrari after being linked with the defender for much of the summer of 2006. The defender joined Everton on a one-year loan with a view to a permanent £3.7M move.
Ferrari, a left-sided defender capable of playing at left back or his preferred spot in central defence, was born in Algeria but became an Italian international, spending three seasons at Parma before joining AS Roma in 2004.
The 25-year-old had trouble settling at Roma, however, and for a while he was prevented from looking for another club by a Uefa-imposed transfer ban on the Italian club, Moyes making the move in part due to the extent of a long-term injury to Alessandro Pistone:
"With Per (Krøldrup) out for six weeks with a hernia and Alessandro out for the season, I couldn't afford to risk not having any cover. Matteo is a centre-half, but at a push he can also play in both full-back positions. Only a year ago he was being talked about as the future of the Italian defence but a big-money move from Parma to Roma hasn't quite worked out for him. Saying that, he still played over 30 games for Roma last season, he is young, athletic and will give us added competition."
It took a few games for him to get accustomed to the Premiership, but Ferrari showed plenty of quality when he finally got going for Everton.
Unfortunately, that was brought to an end in the 1-0 win over Arsenal, when he sustained nerve damage to his hamstring. He did come back for the disastrous cup replay against Chelsea but has not played since, despite buzzing off back to Italy for special medical treatment, and reportedly getting back into training on a few occasions toward the end of the season.
The rumours suggested at one point that Roma were unhappy with the loan, and wished they hadn't agreed to it, which sounds a bit far-fetched. But Evertonians became inured to the likelihood that his spell in the UK would not be extended.
Hopeful sounds that he was happy at Everton and may indeed want to stay on were greeted with enthusiasm in April 2006. Yet it soon became clear that Matteo Ferrari would not be an Everton player next season. Although not made public, it was decided that the club did not wish to exercise the option to purchase as no agreement could be reached over the money involved (or, in plainspeak, AS Roma or the player and his agent wanted too much money).
It was widely rumoured that Matteo's appearances were being limited by clauses in the `pay as he plays` loan agreement — in the same way that restricted Per Krøldrup's appearances. So money, or the lack of it — at one of the world's 20th richest clubs — precluded Everton from "building for the future" with this cultured talent from Serie A, and will surely rule out any further deals that could bring players from Italy.
And as seemed sadly inevitable, Ferrari was released without explanation on 8 May 2006. A few days later, the following 'explanation' appeared on the Official website, with Moyes stating "I've got other alternatives at the moment. That's why I decided not to pursue it. There might be a new one coming in." That new one would turn out to be Joleon Lescott.
In November 2006, Matteo Ferrari had this to say to EvertonFC.com about his experiences with the Blues:
"I have been playing a lot of football but I have to say that my time at Everton was a very important experience for me. I experienced football in a different country at a very good club but, unfortunately, it wasn't everything I wanted it to be thanks to the two serious injuries I had. Those injuries meant I wasn't able to enjoy the experience fully.
"I still speak to a few of the players but I have many friends at Everton. The club is one that I think is very special and I believe they can do very well this season. I am grateful to be able to wish them all the best and it would be nice if we both met in Europe next season. I would have loved to have given my maximum contribution to the Everton cause — it wasn't the case that during my time in England I was thinking about coming back to Italy. I just wanted to focus on the football. I found at Everton a club that was like a family and I felt very welcome and accepted from the first day.
"Everybody at the club helped me to get used to life in England and the players were great helping me when I was injured. It was a good group to be a part of and that helped me. Because of the way things happened at the end of the season, I didn't feel I got the proper opportunity to say thank you to the club and to the fans — the supporters were very good with me. They were kind, they supported me and they gave me encouragement. I wish I could have done more to repay them on the pitch.
"I am glad I have this opportunity now. Every Saturday I look for the results because I feel the club is special for me. It is great to see the team doing well. Playing in England has helped me as a player because it is a different kind of football. The main reason I am playing regularly now is because I feel good physically and if I had felt the way I do now during last season I think I could have made a very good contribution to the team."
Last updated by Michael Kenrick, November 2006