Josh Doig Sassuolo transfer gamble could backfire as ex Hibs star at risk of Serie A relegation

One minute he was on his way to Marseille. The next he was staying put at Hellas Verona.

The January transfer window was full of ifs, buts and maybes for Josh Doig. Now, the former Hibs starlet may look back on it with a feeling of regret with his new club at risk of relegation. Hugely talented Doig has established himself as one of the standout full-backs in Serie A since making the bold move from Easter Road in 2022.

The 21-year-old earned rave reviews in his debut campaign with Verona and his performances even saw him linked with Italian heavyweights Juventus. Injuries curtailed the end of last season for Doig but thankfully his teammates managed to survive a relegation play-off against Spezia to maintain their top-flight status for another year.

That gave uncapped Scotland sensation Doig that platform to showcase his enormous potential for a second season in Serie A and the versatile left-back once again caught attention with his standout displays. Rino Gattuso was one of his biggest admirers and the ex-AC Milan and Rangers hero thought he was on the verge of bringing him to Marseille.

A move to another one of Europe's top five leagues would have been another major step in Doig's career, especially at a traditional European heavyweight like Marseille. It's understood Doig was extremely keen on a move to the Ligue 1 giants and had even agreed personal terms, only for Sassuolo to table an eleventh-hour bid.

That turned Hellas' head and as their Serie A rivals had tabled more money, Doig's hopes of moving to the Stade Velodrome were shattered. The turn of events left Gattuso reeling, although he would lose his job a short time later. The U-turn also left the rising star with a decision to make; stay with Hellas Verona or continue his Italian adventure in Emilia-Romagna.

In the end, the ambitious defender bravely opted for a new chapter with Sassuolo - a team who usually competes at the top end of Serie A. Unfortunately for Doig, that hasn't been the case this season. Currently sitting 19th in the table, Sassuolo are the surprising favourites to go down as they lie five points adrift of former club Hellas with four games to go.

Their battle for survival hasn't been made any easier by the fact they are on a six-game winless streak, and two of their final fixtures come against champions Inter Milan and European-chasing Lazio. Doig has played in all but two games since his £4.5million January transfer but has celebrated just one solitary victory - a 1-0 win against Frosinone at the start of March.

They now find themselves in a perilous situation and Doig is now at serious risk of dropping to Italy's second tier. A nightmare scenario, but one Doig knew was possible when he joined the relegation-threatened club just a few months ago. Fingers crossed that Sassuolo can perform a miraculous turnaround over the closing weeks.