It’s safe to assume Arsenal didn’t envisage a humiliating 3-0 home defeat to Aston Villa when they spent more than £50 million on a pair of Ligue 1 centre-backs.
But while William Saliba’s wait for a Premier League chance goes on, Gabriel Magalhaes must be waking in a cold sweat with Ollie Watkins haunting his dreams like some claret-and-blue-clad paralysis demon.
Yes, the Gunners have conceded just ten goals in eight Premier League games this term but, if they suffer another nightmare against a wounded Leeds boasting one of the most in-form strikers around in Patrick Bamford, questions will be asked about progress under rookie manager Mikel Arteta.
Saliba’s time will come, of course, while Gabriel, that Villa nightmare aside, has been a major plus point in a mixed start to the season for the north London giants.
But not even Arteta’s mentor Pep Guardiola could turn Rob Holding, Shkodran Mustafi or David Luiz into top-class operators, while Sokratis remains persona non grata at the Emirates.
And while Watkins raced on to Jack Grealish’s inch-perfect through ball to slot Villa’s third through the legs of a beleaguered Bernd Leno, Alessandro Bastoni’s remarkable rise was continuing 600 miles south of the Emirates.
As reported by FC Inter News, Inter Milan sensation Bastoni rejected the chance to join Arsenal in the summer, setting his sights on a new five-year contract at the San Siro instead.
Inter paid a staggering £28 million to sign 19-year-old Bastoni after just 32 Serie A appearances for Atalanta and Parma. And, after a superb breakthrough season under Antonio Conte, lord knows how much he would cost now.
“He is very young and can improve a lot and become the new (Leonardo) Bonucci or (Giorgio) Chiellini – a great defender,” Italy boss Roberto Mancini said after handing Bastoni his Italy debut against Estonia last week.
It may seem soon to compare Inter’s number 95 to a pair of Juventus legends. Chiellini and Bonucci are two of the finest defenders of the modern era after all, winning a staggering 31 trophies between them in Turin.
But Bastoni, who combines Chiellini’s uncompromising solidity with Bonucci’s pinpoint passing, looks a centre-half capable of defining a generation.
Bonucci even handed Bastoni his number 19 shirt for Italy’s 2-0 victory over Poland – a passing of the baton if there ever was one.
Whether he would have made a better fist of dealing with a rampaging Ollie Watkins, however, is anyone’s guess.