Samir Handanovic: The Udinese Keeper Would Shine At Arsenal Or Tottenham
Samir Handanovic has come to epitomise everything that Udinese have stood for over the last two seasons in Italian football: cool, confident and composed but with a touch of flamboyance.
The Bianconeri have qualified for the Champions League preliminary stages once again on the back of some stirring displays and while chief marksman Antonio Di Natale may have grabbed most of the headlines, success has been built from the back, starting with the goalkeeper.
The Slovenia international has been the last line of defence for Udinese since 2007 and now 27 he is considered second only to Gigi Buffon as Serie A’s top goalkeeper.
There are many elements to Handanovic’s game but probably the thing that really stands out is his total confidence in commanding the penalty area.
He is considered second only to Gigi Buffon as Serie A’s top goalkeeper.
With Francesco Guidolin’s side playing three central defenders much of the containment of the opposition is carried out on the edge of area but when the ball is played beyond the penalty spot, Handanovic is secure in his handling.
An imposing 6ft4-frame would be expected to dominate, but he is as agile as any more dominative shot-stopper – and his reach and speed of movement has produced some incredible saves.
There is no denying that he does his homework on opposing strikers and especially penalty-takers: his six spot saves in the 2010-11 season tied the all-time record in Serie A alongside former AC Milan stalwart Sebastian Rossi - and overall, he has an impressive 50% keep-out rate over the last two campaigns, saving seven from 14.
Penalty experts such as Edinson Cavani, Samuel Eto’o, Antonio Cassano and Adrian Mutu have all come off second best in the ultimate one-on-one test of nerve.
At international level, he thwarted Serbia’s Manchester United defender Nemanja Vidic in the Euro 2012 qualifiers – which turned him into something of a hero in Estonia as it ensured that nation’s passage to the play-offs.
Slovenia may not have reached this summer’s tournament finals, but Handanovic enjoyed the experience of World Cup 2012 in South Africa where he impressed especially in the final group game, keeping England at bay until Jermain Defoe finally scored from close range.
There is no denying that he does his homework on opposing strikers and especially penalty-takers: his six spot saves in the 2010-11 season tied the all-time record in Serie A
Since then his stock has increased and the quietly-spoken Handanovic has raised his voice on more than one occasion that he would like to further his career away from Udine which prompted the club to offer him a new deal until 2016.
If Udinese where to be open to enquires then the asking price would be something in the region of 16million euros, even if the club have stated that their hand will not be forced by any tempting offer coming out of the Premier League.
However, just as on the pitch the last word may come down to the keeper who has seen Udinese sell its most talented players on a regular basis – and on each occasion fail at the first hurdle in Champions League come August.
Influential midfielders Mauricio Isla and Kwadwo Asamoah are already set to join Juventus and Udinese may find it difficult to make another repeat of their top three exploits so Handanovic and his advisers may feel it is time to move on. The Premier League’s penalty-takers have been forewarned
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