Musa Barrow has been considered a player on the verge of a breakthrough for so long that it was getting to the point where you wondered if it would ever arrive.
The 21-year-old is one of very few Atalanta players who can say that they didn’t hugely benefit from La Dea’s success story over the last couple of seasons.
Last term, while the Bergamaschi were becoming the darlings of Europe as their eye-catching attacking football took them to third place in Serie A, Barrow was playing the most minor of roles.
He scored one goal in 22 appearances, starting just six of those games.
This season, it was always going to be hard to force his way into a side boasting an attacking arsenal of Duvan Zapata, Papu Gomez, Luis Muriel and Josip Ilicic.
So it proved, with the youngster getting just one start in a total of seven appearances before heading to Bologna in January, on an 18-month loan with the obligation to buy.
Friday night’s clash with Roma suggested that the change of scene might mean we haven’t lost hope yet of seeing the best of Barrow in Italy.
Lining up on the left wing for Sinisa Mihajlovic’s vibrant young side, he soon set to work giving the Giallorossi defence a night they will want to forget as quickly as possible.
It was the Gambian’s deft outside-of-the-boot cross that evaded Chris Smalling for Bologna’s opener, as Riccardo Orsolini fired in the finish.
But his first moment of magic, which will light up his YouTube highlight reels for years to come, arrived when he picked up the ball on the corner of the 18-yard box and curled an unstoppable finish into the top corner, with the aid of a deflection.
Just as you thought things couldn’t get better for the striker, he ran half the length of the pitch, skinned Gianluca Mancini and calmly finished past Pau Lopez for his second of the night.
With two goals and one assist, Barrow single-handedly dismantled the capital club. The only black mark on his evening was when he went down injured in the closing stages, and during the post-match celebrations the youngster was on crutches and wearing a moon boot. Here’s hoping the knock isn’t a serious one.
Barrow and Bologna seem like a perfect fit, and he now has three goals in his first four games for the club.
With regular game time, the confidence of his coach and a tactical structure that gets the best out of him, Serie A fans could finally see him thrive in the way they have hoped to for the last two years.
Fonseca facing his first full-blown crisis
Paulo Fonseca hasn’t had the easiest of debut seasons at Roma, with numerous injuries frustrating his efforts to overhaul the playing style of his squad.
He has done remarkably well, in fact, to keep the wheels on for as long as he has, considering the absence of key men like Nicolo Zaniolo and Amadou Diawara, but now they appear to have come off completely.
Back-to-back defeats to Sassuolo and Bologna, and the shocking performances that went along with them, were enough to turn the Stadio Olimpico into a hostile arena for the home side on Friday night.
The fans booed their team at half time, booed the substitutions, booed Aleksander Kolarov for responding to the boos and booed the team at full time.
While Fonseca has already experienced a lot in his short time in charge, this is his first experience of a full-blown Roma crisis.
There is nothing quite like it in Italian football, as Eusebio Di Francesco can attest, and turning the fans around will be the next challenge for the Portuguese to contend with as he tries to wrestle his lurching ship into calmer seas.