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The Curious Case of Blerim Dzemaili

He came, he got injured, he left, he got good

Christopher Lee

Blerim Dzemaili, 28 years old, currently plays for Napoli in the Italian Serie A.

The former Grasshoppers Zurich man has had an eclectic career, taking in spells in his native Switzerland along with a frustrating two seasons in England for the mighty Bolton Wanderers, before spending the last six season plying his trade in Italy.

Born to an Albanian family from Bogovinje, Macedonia, the young Dzemaili moved to Switzerland at the age of 4. He would then go on to join youth club Oerlikon Zürich before moving to FC Unterstrass. At the age of 14, Blerim moved to third league team YF Juventus as a youth player before moving to FC Zürich in 2001. While at FC Zürich, Džemaili rose through the ranks and made the senior team at the age of 17.

Rising swiftly through the ranks, eventually being appointed at the ripe age of 19, indeed he remains one of the youngest captains in Swiss football history. Džemaili led his team to glory as FC Zürich won the Swiss Super League in the 2005-06 and 2006-2007 seasons.

After winning the Swiss cup and league, Džemaili moved to the English Premier League side Bolton Wanderers where he joined legendary manager Sam Allardyce who managed to beat competition from other Premier League clubs including Fulham and Everton to the signing.

Upon confirming the deal, Allardyce said:

"Dzemaili is a fantastic player, who has played for the best team in Switzerland for the past three years. For someone so young, he has a wealth of experience.

At the tender age of 19, he is the skipper of FC Zurich and is expected to become a regular international for Switzerland in the years ahead. He has hardly missed a game for FC Zurich since he started playing for them at the age of 17.

I am excited by the prospect of working with Blerim next season"

However, Allardyce's predictions of a bright, injury free career working alongside Dzemaili fell apart soon after. Allardyce left the club that summer before the arrival of the Swiss midfielder, who struggled under his replacement, Sammy Lee, before suffering a damaged cruciate knee ligament injury within weeks of joining the club. He would be out of action for six months. This all happened before he had even made his first team debut for Bolton.

The player finally made his debut as a substitute in the club's FA Cup defeat to Sheffield United in what proved to be his only showing of the 2007-08 campaign, under his third Bolton manager in three seasons, Lord Voldemort himself, Gary Megson.

Dzemaili joined Italian side Torino on loan the following year, where he went onto become a fixture in their side. Despite their relegation to Serie B, Torino confirmed they had signed him on a permanent basis, agreeing a fee of £1.5m After having played just once for Torino at Coppa Italia as a permanent signing, he then completed a loan move to Parma on 31 August 2009. s is the way with Italian football, the first and second halves of his registration were then bought by Parma for a total fee of €7 million, making a handsome profit for Torino, and the best part of sweet fuck all for Wanderers.

After two seasons at Parma, he moved again to Napoli, for a fee of €9m, with with Fabiano Santacroce (loan) and Manuele Blasi (free) signing for Parma in part-exchange. He would go on to become a fixture in their side too, playing regularly in the league as well as in the Champions League, winning the Coppa Italia twice during his time in Naples.

So again, it's a case of 'what might have been' for Wanderers. We signed a promising talent, and although no blame can be attributed to anyone involved (indeed the player has said that he bears no grudges as to how his time at the club panned out), it does gall somewhat to see our former player thriving in the greatest competitions in club football at a time when we're ourselves experiencing a poor time of it.

We all wish him luck, but I'm sure we'd rather have had the chance to run the rule over him ourselves. Oh and whoever sanctioned the sale of the player for a measly £1.5m - well done. Well fuckin done.