Torino Club Focus: The Ogbonna Dilemma
For a new side promoted from Serie B, it seemed that without their star centre-back and only Azzurri international, they would be real relegation candidates.
Now though, the 24-year-old cannot find his way into the team upon returning from injury and this is completely down to how well the men in front of him have played in his absence.
He suffered a hernia in December which has ruled him out of action since then and although he was fully fit to return against Udinese, he did not start in the ill-fated 1-0 defeat.
Giampiero Ventura has really built up an incredible team spirit and belief in the Toro camp this campaign and that is down to having faith in players that perform for him.
Guillermo Rodriguez and Kamil Glik have been fantastic in the absence of Ogbonna, during games against Inter and Sampdoria in particular they were sensational, and are rightly keeping the big star out of the side.
In fact, so insistent are they that he must not leave the club, that they unfurled a banner last season directed at the president, warning him in no uncertain terms that “if you sell Ogbonna, get ready for your coffin.”
If ever you doubted how high the esteem in which he is held, then there is your answer and this is borne of his consistent classy performances.
There are few better in the league when it comes to positional awareness and confidence when passing the ball out of defence but in his absence, this has not been missed.
On the contrary, experienced defender Rodriguez has proven himself more than capable of filling in for Ogbonna alongside the outstanding Glik.
While it is the Italian international who gains much of the plaudits for the Granata, the Pole has been putting in some superb displays himself throughout this season albeit he has not received the praise he deserves for doing so.
However, while nobody likes to shake up a winning system (before the loss to Udinese, Toro were on a seven game unbeaten run) Ventura is now being faced with a difficult decision.
Torino, whether the fans like it or not, are going to have to come to terms with the fact that it is more than likely that their hero will have to depart.
Figures of between €15m-€25m are being touted as possible transfer fees when he eventually does depart, whether it be to Manchester United, Juventus or whoever, he must play if he is to keep the fee they do get high.
Especially if he is going to leave this summer, then he must play consistently (and play well obviously) from now until the end of the season to help his club get the maximum amount they can for him.
For the present though, it is just about deciding how best to re-introduce him to the side, the likelihood being coming in for Rodriguez, to show that despite what recent results may suggest, Torino are better when Ogbonna is on the field.