It is not easy to stand out for all the right reasons in a struggling side but that is what Tottenham Hotspur target Andreas Granqvist has been doing at Genoa.
The towering Swede is the only solid looking thing about the Serie A strugglers’ defence that has conceded 29 goals so far this campaign and currently resides in penultimate place in the table; three points from safety.
The side from the Liguria port city have lost eight of their last ten league matches and were trailing 1-0 to Torino at home on Sunday, until Granqvist came forward for a corner to head home the equaliser from close range.
It may have been his first goal of the season, but it brought unbridled if somewhat rare joy around the Luigi Ferraris stadium which has become used to some dire performances.
However, Granqvist has never been one to possess a defeatist attitude despite playing in a team that just avoided the drop last year.
Having grabbed the ball from the back of the net, he had no time to waste as he raced back to the heart of the backline urging his team-mates on his way.
The Italian press reported that scouts from Tottenham Hotspur were in the stands and they no doubt would have been impressed with the player’s attitude, not to mention his cool and unruffled defending even when the rest of the team were crumbling all around him.
Having arrived from Dutch side Groningen in the summer of 2011, the 27-year-old has not only emerged as a key figure, but has become a firm fan favourite amongst the Rossoblu faithful as he marshaled his team-mates in what has become a siege mentality.
Attempting to keep the flood gates from opening at the back has become a reoccurring theme for the Sweden international, who was part of the side that overcame England in November.
Under new coach Luigi Delneri, Genoa have become even more defensively-minded and inclined to retreat into bunker even at home, but as Granqvist demonstrated at the weekend he is a danger from set-pieces at the other end of the pitch if only more opportunities presented themselves.
However, he knows where he is needed more than any other and operating in the centre of a three-man defence he has become a sure presence on the ball and a lynchpin who can hit a pass accurately to either side of the pitch.
Both AC Milan and Inter made enquiries during the summer on his possible availability but neither were willing to make the move permanent immediately, preferring an initial loan deal.
Genoa owner Enrico Preziosi knows a good deal when he see it and tied the player to a contract until 2015 and with news of interest arriving from England, Delneri’s post-game press conference on Sunday turned into a soap-box on the need for the club not to sell their best asset in the winter transfer window.
Granqvist would certainly have no problems readapting to English football, having had a spell at Wigan back in 2007. He was a lot rawer then and had to contend with playing at right-back as well but a season and a half of waging at times a one-man battle to stay in Serie A has turned Granqvist into a steelier defender than any Italian but at the same time still possessing that Scandinavian cool under pressure.