Paratici clarifies on Icardi and Can weighs in on the squad

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Juventus sporting director Fabio Paratici talked to Radio Rai 1 on Monday morning, addressing the Mauro Icardi situation: “I would like to clarify that we have not had any contacts with him recently. My statements last week about our summer ideas where not aimed at disturbing Inter and we have never talked with Wanda Nara lately. We do not know what the future holds, but surely we have other things focus on before the start of the transfer market.”

On Massimiliano Allegri: “I do not think that winning Champions League or not will determine his future. We have a very important project and he is part of it. I am sure he will stay with us to help us grow more and more.” Continue reading

Grading the early transfer moves in Serie A

 

Diego Godin

Diego Godin to Inter Grade A

For the second year in a row Inter have been able to close the deal for one of the top center backs on the market, especially impressive when you consider that just like Stefan de Vrij, Godin is also arriving on a Bosman transfer. Slowly but surely the nerazzurri are building a formidable backline which was arguably the biggest strength of their treble winning team.

Godin gives Inter a lot of flexibility and opens the door to two potential dominoes- one very positive and another that rightfully makes their fan base uncomfortable. Having Godin at San Siro makes the job more attractive for Diego Simeone while also giving Marotta and Paratici to ponder their options with Milan Skriniar, who has yet to agree to an extension, from a position of strength.

But aside from the potential ramifications of the deal, there’s no doubt that this is a statement signing for the nerazzurri- they are set to acquire one of the five best center backs in the world at time that he was linked to numerous top clubs outside of Italy.

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Aaron Ramsey to Juventus Grade B-

The Welsh midfielder is set to sign a multi year deal with the current Serie A champions after being linked to numerous top clubs in recent weeks, especially Paris St Germain. So for the second year in a row, the bianconeri have signed a midfielder still in his prime from the Premier League after completing the deal for Emre Can. But just like with the German midfielder, odds are Juventus will have to wait until next season to add him on a Bosman signing.

Ramsey will bring many of the attributes Juventus lost after Claudio Marchisio suffered his knee injury, but the question remains if he’ll be able to stay healthy and adapt to Serie A- which has been rather challenging for two previous British players at Juventus, Ian Rush and David Platt. Now granted that was a long time but there’s a no doubt, Ramsey will face a very different reality in Turin compared to London. Considering the high wages Ramsey is expected to receive, which will have a domino effect on the requests of some of his new teammates, this deal does come with some risk for the Old Lady.

Chievo-Birsa

Sebastian Walukievicz and Valter Birsa to Cagliari 5 million combined Grade B+

The Sardinian club have been quite active in the early stages of the January transfer window and have addressed both a long and short term need. After signing two veterans to bolster Maran’s defense in Ragnar Klavan and Darijo Srna last summer, Cagliari closed the deal for highly rated Polish center back Sebastian Walukievicz who had also been linked to Genoa (who has a knack for discovering up and coming players especially recently) and Borussia Dortmund- they now have time to get him used to Serie A before potentially cashing in on Filippo Romagna in the summer.

Birsa on the other hand will help immediately. The former Milan trequartista had been one of the most impactful players in the race to avoid relegation in previous years, he also had his best seasons playing for Cagliari’s current coach Maran at Chievo. If that weren’t enough, they weakened considerably a team who is also competing for salvation for a very reasonable transfer fee.

 

Luis Muriel to Fiorentina Grade B

The Colombian striker first arrived in Serie A back in 2010 so it’s rather wild to realize he’s still only 27. While he never fulfilled the potential that had drawn comparisons to the Brazilian Ronaldo during his stint at Udinese, he’s proven to be an above average striker in Serie A where his speed is particularly valuable- he’ll have an opportunity to play significantly considering that Giovanni Simeone and especially Marko Pjaca (who could leave in the coming weeks) have struggled this season.

Muriel was also linked to Milan, but Fiorentina was able to leverage his close relationship to sporting director Pantaleo Corvino who brought him to Lecce back in 2011. They acquired him on a low risk/high reward loan with option to buy deal.

Gabbiadini

Manolo Gabbiadini to Sampdoria 3 million loan plus 9 million for option to buy Grade B

After a strong start in the Premier League, the former Napoli striker struggled to find consistent playing time at Southampton. Gabbiadini had been itching to return to Serie A, but he must be particularly pleased to be rejoining to Sampdoria where he had the best half season of his career back in 2015.

Gabbiadini should be an intriguing option for manager Marco Giampaolo since his versatility should make him a more natural fit next to Fabio Quagliarella than Gregoire Defrel, a player who could be taking the opposite path and head to the Premier League before the January window closes.

Ramsey & Juventus, is a good deal always the right deal?

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“It’s hard to find ways to improve when you have such a strong squad, but we’ll be vigilant when it comes to opportunities on the market’ is what you often heard from Beppe Marotta when he was asked about Juventus’ plans when a transfer window opened. Not surprisingly this mantra was continued, almost word for word, when Fabio Paratici was asked the same question recently.

This quote was one of the two things that came to mind when I first heard that Juventus was set to reach an agreement with Aaron Ramsey on a Bosman transfer, the other was the frequent misconception of the true cost of these types of signings. But let’s go in order and back to the quote on how difficult it is to improve a club that has won as much as Juventus recently- just because a deal is good, does it make the right deal?

When evaluating transfer moves, its’ very easy to look at things in the vacuum of the team that is welcoming a new player. It’s certainly a positive when you can say that new player X improves a team at a certain position, but ultimately a transfer move truly makes an impact when it bridges the gap with your competitors. 

As an example in the summer of 2017 I constantly praised Milan’s new directors Fassone and MIrabelli for many of their acquisitions because I was looking at the moves through a limited lens. Sure Rodriguez, Kessie, Biglia, Conti, Andre Silva and company were upgrades over what Galliani was able to put together with loans and options to buy, but how many of these players could have been starters on the teams Milan was trying to catch up to in Serie A? The only one was definitely Bonucci since he was a starter on the top team prior to his arrival.

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So while praising Juventus for signing Emre Can first and now almost certainly Aaron Ramsey on a “free transfer” (more on that inaccurate notion in a second) is a correct sentiment when you consider that they both better long term options than Sami Khedira, the better question is are they good enough to start for the top teams in Europe that Juventus are competing with for the Champions League- the trophy that now seems to matter the most to the club and certainly to their fan base.

Now I don’t watch enough of the Premier League to know the answer to that question, but I suggest to those who do to think of it in these terms. While Ramsey was linked to Barcelona and Paris St Germain and Manchester City pursued Emre Can in addition to Liverpool trying to keep him, would those clubs have asked them to play as an important role for them as Juventus is asking them to do in the next few years?

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While I’ll let those who know Ramsey and Can much better than I answer for them, there’s no doubt that Cristiano Ronaldo’s addition is resounding Yes when we ask if he helps Juventus against Europe’s best. You can also make the case that while Miralem Pjanic and even Gonzalo Higuain aren’t as impactful players as Ronaldo, their acquisitions also came with the advantage of weakening Juve’s main rivals in Serie A at the time- on the bright side for Juve you can make a great case Joao Cancelo not only weakened Inter, he can genuinely bridge the gap with the Real Madrids of the world if he keeps playing like he has since arriving in Turin.

While a player’s ability is a subjective matter, the true cost of a Bosman signing isn’t. In Economics 101 they teach you that “there’s no such thing as a free lunch”- meaning how the cost of the “free“ piece of candy you get at the bank, or the promotional item you get for attending a seminar is ultimately added on to the consumer. This is also true with football, sure with a Bosman signing you aren’t paying a transfer fee but you are paying elevated commissions to the player’s agent (who essentially plays the role of the selling club on a non Bosman transfer) and an inflated salary to the player to get him to pick your team.

This was spelled out in black and white (no pun intended) on the press release for Juventus’ acquisition of Emre Can. Because the current Serie A champions are a publicly traded company, they have to be transparent with their expenses and with Can they indicated he would cost 16 million over two years in agent commission- which impact Juventus’ balance sheets in almost exactly the same way as a transfer fee.

Now 16 million is certainly below market value for a midfielder who is entering his prime and whom Liverpool wants to keep and Manchester City has to sign, but he’s far from “free”. But there’s also another thing to consider, signing a Bosman player to an inflated salary has a domino effect to the rest of the squad- because they see a new player who is less established, it’s easy for the agents of the other players to demand a raise- we saw this with both Miralem Pjanic and Sami Khedira, and while the first extension was greeted with many positive reviews, the same cannot be said for the second.

Juventus deserves a lot of credit for going from a transient club where the likes of Pogba and Vidal increased their value only to be sold for big profits to being a destination club for sought after Bosman signing and super stars like Ronaldo, but to get to being a consistent Champions League contender, the bianconeri should also look to go beyond the good moves.

Paratici comments on Ramsey, Mbappé and more

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Fabio Paratici is in Dubai for the Globe Soccer Awards and weighed in on few players while speaking to Sky yesterday. He begun by expressing his hopes for the new year: “My first desire is for this season to be equal or better than the last six or seven. Champions League has become our goal, we earned that over the years. After the last four or five editions, we feel like we are ready to take on the challenge with more self-awareness.”

On the arrival of Cristiano Ronaldo: “If you have the best in the world on your side, everybody’s confidence rises. But our quality was already very good, we have always been in the upper echelon and performed well in Europe recently. We have had great players in our roster and now we have Cristiano.” Continue reading