EL GLADIADOR is what they called Marcos Senesi during his stint in the Netherlands at Feyenoord.

Spanish for 'the Gladiator', it is a nickname that stems from his father’s shouts of encouragement as a youth in Argentina but became adopted as a fitting moniker in Rotterdam.

As shown in the colosseum of European competition, Senesi is fearless and full blooded.

Strong in the tackle and unafraid to go on swashbuckling runs up field whilst at Feyenoord, we saw somewhat of a watered-down version of the Argentine last term.

Still a standout performer, but a tamed showing.

But now the shackles are off the whole Cherries team under Andoni Iraola, and with it, the chance to see Senesi unleashed.

Even the biggest flops in transfer history have impressive highlight packages, but Iraola would surely salivate at the constant source of clips from Senesi’s last Feyenoord season that saw him spray direct balls from the back to the wings.

We saw glimpses of that pinpoint passing last term, as well as hints of the technical ability the Argentine is not afraid to show in the opposition box – evidenced by the keepy-uppies he pulled out of the bag in Cherries’ win over Liverpool in March.

Impetus on attacking this year will see Cherries caught on the break with fewer numbers at the back, but this suits Senesi.

The 26-year-old loves a last-ditch block, a sliding tackle at full pelt to deny a striker a clean run on goal.

Iraola’s style of play has earned the summation of organised chaos, and in a way that also describes Senesi’s defensive approach.

Frequently he is the first to step up and engage, harassing and hurrying attackers away from goal.

If he is beaten, or finds himself caught high up the pitch, he rushes back before chucking his body into a challenge.

But he oozes calm on the ball, able to keep his nerve and play out from the back even when quickly closed down.

Senesi is not only attack minded when he has the ball at his feet.

In pre-season we have seen him surge up the field when Cherries have possession, making an off-ball run from box-to-box and offering a passing option, a rarity for a centre-back.

Bournemouth Echo: Marcos Senesi scored twice for Cherries last term (Pic: Richard Crease)Marcos Senesi scored twice for Cherries last term (Pic: Richard Crease) (Image: Richard Crease)

Iraola has shared that every player will have freedom to attack, and it looks like Senesi is set to take this as a green light and bomb forward, within reason.

It should be no surprise then that with Cherries’ current dearth at central midfield, that Senesi is viewed as a viable stop gap.

He came off the bench in Cherries’ final pre-season friendly against Lorient, showcasing his passing accuracy with a sumptuous ball that Kieffer Moore obliged with a simple header.

Senesi is not the long-term solution in the middle of the park, but his viability there only serves to highlight his quality and technical ability.

“Marcos is very good on the ball,” Iraola explained to the Echo.

“I think he can play in this position in certain moments, but we are not thinking he can be an option long-term.

“He has the quality, especially on the ball.

“He understands the game and he even gave an assist for the second goal.

“But it was because we didn’t have the numbers to make all the subs in the middle and he could help us there.”

Although the shift in tactics clearly suits Senesi, it is not as if he was a peripheral figure last season.

The 2022-23 campaign was all about one thing for Cherries, and by extension, Senesi – survival.

There was little room for the centre-back to roam from defence, a safety-first approach of pragmatism employed by Gary O’Neil to keep Cherries in the top flight.

We will never know the direction O’Neil would have taken Cherries in, but there was a strong indication that Senesi would be a central figure in his plans.

“One of Marcos’ big positives is how good he is with the ball,” O’Neil explained to the Daily Echo in May.

“We generally build in a back three, Marcos ends up in the middle when we’re on the ball, so he doesn’t end up on the right very often when we’re in possession.

“The way we play, the way we try and build, the way we have Marcos in the middle a lot gives us the ability to use one of his key strengths.

“Which is that he finds fantastic passes, he can wrap it through into people’s feet, he can lift it in behind, he’s a real good footballer with the ball.

“We’ve tried to use that.

“We got a lot out of him this season, a good first season in the Premier League.”

At the time O’Neil hinted that there was more to come from the 26-year-old, a first season of getting to grips with English football serving as a foundation.

But now, with more freedom than he would have ever enjoyed before, it is time that Vitality Stadium gets to see the full glory of the Gladiator.

Having already shown he can adapt to the Premier League, perhaps it is now time for Senesi to ask if the Premier League can adapt to his full-on playstyle.