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Bobby Duncan v Liverpool: Plenty of blame to share but Fiorentina right choice

COMMENT: He may've walked out on Liverpool. He may never wear the club's shirt again. But that doesn't mean Bobby Duncan has suddenly become a busted flush overnight.

Yeah, it's a gamble by Fiorentina. A youth teamer fresh from England. With no knowledge of the language nor culture of Italy, let alone Florence. But the Viola do have something on their hands. A player courted by clubs across Europe for the past 18 months - even longer when considering his time with Manchester City...

Ah yes, Man City, where Duncan had learned his craft since 10 years of age. The coaches there tapping a potential their counterparts at Liverpool and Everton failed to spot. Bringing through a talent recognised by England's scouts, along with those talent spotters from abroad.

But all that investment would eventually be lost to City. The striker walking out on the club at 16 and into the welcoming arms of hometown Liverpool - the very same club which had rejected him as a junior. That Duncan sat out a year to force City's hand - and help Liverpool with the knockdown £200,000 they coughed up for him - appears to have been lost in all of today's drama. And you won't be surprised to know staff at City's academy have watched on with little sympathy as this latest Duncan saga has played out via the press and social media.

Indeed, it's really been social media where this whole thing exploded. Let's get this straight: Salif Rubie was wrong, dead wrong, to go public with that Twitter rant against Liverpool, Michael Edwards, et al. But how much did Jamie Carragher contribute to this whole bitter episode? Yes, Rubie gave as good as Carragher threw at him. Even more so. But this was always going to end up one way. Carragher, with his ego and self-indulgence, unleashing his mob of 1.3m followers to abuse Duncan's agent to the point where he was forced to shut down his account. And all in the middle of a period where football is (apparently) examining it's relationship with social media...

Of course, Carragher insists he stepped in for the good of Duncan. Given his ties with Steven Gerrard, Carragher says the player is effectively family himself. But take the phones away and what do you have? Two grown men shouting and insulting eachother in public over a young lad's career.

There was no positive or selfless reason for Carragher to get involved. Certainly not the way he did. And all it achieved was exacerbate the problem and leave Duncan wide open for even more online abuse.

And it's not like Duncan and Rubie were on their own. The 18 year-old's departure for Fiorentina not the only bitter split seen by Liverpool this summer. Bobby Adekanye had long quit for Lazio taking aim at Jurgen Klopp. The Dutchman claiming preseason "promises" regarding playing opportunities were broken.

Rafa Camacho, now of Sporting CP, did much the same - though it was Liverpool's U23 coaching staff, rather than the manager, he publicly took aim at before leaving.

"I'm not a right defender, I'm an attacker who scores goals. This is my DNA," he famously ranted in the final weeks of last season.

In contrast, we didn't get a peep from Duncan. Simply a "I just want to play football" post to social media, before hastily deleting it as the mob set in. Indeed just yesterday, one scribe chose to use a single bounce game in preseason to run down Duncan's potential and his status within Liverpool's senior setup.

As European champions. As a club on track to becoming the richest in the world. Perhaps the departure of Duncan is no great loss. But this was no one off. Camacho and Adekanye also quit in bitter circumstances. And this does deserve some scrutiny.

In the meantime, Fiorentina have landed themselves a talent. A player who could be worth ten times the €2m they'll eventually pay Liverpool. That is, should everything fall into place (just ask City how that feels).

And getting out of town could be the best move for the lad. Away from England. Away from the media gaze. And allowed to simply "play football", Florence could be the ideal setting for Duncan to fulfill the potential his game clearly possesses.

And if that means proving those wrong who have washed their hands of him this week, all the bitter, ahem... better.

Chris Beattie
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Chris Beattie

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