Piatek and Florenzi’s puzzling departures explained

The current January transfer window in Serie A felt like an episode of “Lost”. We had an intense start with Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s return to Milan and Juventus defeating bitter rivals Inter in the race for Dejan Kulusevski, a long middle part filled with numerous mysteries, followed by an emotional ending that saw a sad departure with Roma captain Alessandro Florenzi joining Valencia and a rather shocking twist with Milan giving up on Krzysztof Piatek, their top goal scorer from last season.

Just last January, Milan paid Genoa 35 million, in one installment no less, after the Polish striker had taken Serie A by storm after arriving from Cracovia by scoring 13 goals in 19 Serie A matches. Piatek confirmed himself at Milan by scoring an impressive 9 goals in 18 matches which made him and the fan base confident enough that he could end the curse on the number nine kit after boldly deciding to take it over. 

On paper there were many reasons to be confident that Piatek could be a long term building block for the club, especially since many expected him to benefit from the managerial switch going from the very defensive Gattuso to the Sarriball disciple Giampaolo, who had just overseen Quagliarella’s banner season at Sampdoria. Because Piatek was scoring at an Inzaghi like level, it was easy to overlook the fact that the Polish striker was extremely limited technically, but during this campaign they became very evident.

While it’s debatable if Milan would have pursued Zlatan Ibrahimovic at all had Piatek come close to his production from last season, his arrival spelled the end for the Polish attacker if certain financial condition were met. The rossoneri did not want to risk his value plummeting further which certainly could have been the case had he gone to a team on loan and struggled, so once they had an opportunity to avoid taking a loss on his amortized value they pulled the trigger (since they acquired him from Genoa they have amortized a portion of what they invested, making the reported 27 million offer enough to cover his remaining value on the books).

But why would Milan give up on him so quickly since in many ways he fit exactly the type of player Ivan Gazidis described when he laid out the vision of Milan under the Elliott fund- young, with the potential to either become a star or an asset for a plusvalenza on the transfer market? Unfortunately the rossoneri’s current financial situation does not allow them to have the chips to gamble in order to find out if Piatek is closer to what we saw last year or in the current campaign.

Milan had one of the top 5 payrolls in Serie A going into the season and then added Zlatan Ibarhimovic’s significant salary. To Boban, Maldini and Massara’s credit, during this January window they were able to get rid of a lot of dead weight- Pepe Reina AKA the highest paid backup keeper in Serie A on a team who doesn’t play games in European competitions and a young stud keeper, Ricardo Rodriguez who lost his starting job to Theo Hernandez as well as Suso and “oggetto misterioso” Mattia Caldara.

 But getting rid of Piatek does come with some risk although it makes financial sense. On one hand, the rossoneri were able to get a substantial offer for Piatek despite his dreadful performance during this current season because there is so much scarcity on the market for quality pure number 9s, as demonstrated by Roma offering Edin Dzeko a 3 year deal at the age of 33 and Inter breaking their transfer record to sign Romelu Lukaku, but on the other hand it won’t be easy for them to find a quality option when they have to replace Zlatan Ibrahimovic.

Florenzi’s departure from Roma is much more rooted in emotion than the cold hard facts that surround Piatek’s exit at Milan. The giallorossi’s ownership group which is in the process of selling the club, were accused by Francesco Totti of being on a crusade of ridding the team from Romans just last summer, and certainly didn’t try to put up a fight on this accusation by moving captain Alessandro Florenzi to Valencia on a dry loan.

There is a good reason and a historical precedent for this move at least. Florenzi wants to get to the upcoming Euro in top form, which is rather difficult to do when you are benched over someone like Santon in the derby against bitter cross town rivals Lazio. While that was the straw that broke the camel’s back- and one that you can imagine really hurt someone born in Rome who grew up dreaming of playing for the giallorossi, Florenzi had become an afterthought under new manager Paulo Fonseca well before this game.

At least Florenzi isn’t the first Roma captain to join Valencia. At the end of the 90s, Amedeo Carboni joined the Spanish club and ended up staying for nine years before becoming one of their directors. But as Florenzi’s agent Alessandro Lucci said on Wednesday “in football there are only arrivederci” (see you again), because the deal was reached on dry loan and Florenzi’s love for Roma, hopefully this will be just a six month diversion.

Roma loan Florenzi and add trio of youngsters

After 18 years, as he joined the youth academy when he was 11, and eight seasons as a fixture of the first team and 277 appearances, Alessandro Florenzi has left Roma, at least temporarily. The versatile player, who in the last three years has found his role as right back, will finish the season at Valencia. Florenzi aims at being a regular starter, which he no longer was in the Italian Capital, to retain his spot in the Euro 2020 roster with Azzurri.  The Giallorossi will move forward with Aleksandar Kolarov, Leonardo Spinazzola, Davide Santon and Bruno Peres as their top fullbacks and the Italian duo can feature on both flanks.  Continue reading

Serie A Fantasy Preview – Round 21

Brescia-Milan: the Rondinelle will not have Mario Balotelli for a couple of matches, but Ernesto Torregrossa has actually carried the load scoring-wise recently and he and Alfredo Donnarumma formed a formidable partnership last season in Serie B, so they might be able to survive the blow. They have added two intriguing pieces in January in Birkir Bjarnason, who was very dangerous for a midfielder in his time in Pescara, and Simon Skrabb: they should both have their chances because Nikolas Spalek at no.10 has been pretty inconsistent. Sandro Tonali is coming off a two-assist performance and also Stefano Sabelli and Romulo have been decently proficient in a supporting role. Continue reading

Serie A Injury and Suspension Report – Round 20

Atalanta: Hans Hateboer is suspended, while Timothy Castagne missed the midweek Coppa Italia game with knee soreness, but it was likely just precautionary.

Bologna: Stefano Denswil remains iffy after missing one with a thigh ailment and it will likely be a couple more weeks before Ladislav Krejci comes back from his knee problem.

Brescia: Dimitri Bisoli is disqualified. Daniele Dessena is close to being fully cleared from his malleolus fracture. Continue reading

Serie A Fantasy Preview – Round 20

Lazio-Sampdoria: despite a fairly muted performance, the Biancocelesti came out on top versus Napoli last week, for the second week in a row propelled by a late Ciro Immobile goal. The capocannoniere keeps producing and has already reached the 20-goal threshold. He has scored their last three goals. Joaquin Correa will be limited, so Felipe Caicedo might get another chance to start and he has posted three goals and two assists in limited action in the last five appearances. Luis Alberto will be looking to pad his assist numbers (12), while Sergej Milinkovic-Savic has reverted back to his less efficient self after a hot stretch. Senad Lulic will be suspended, so Jony is set to play on the left wing and he is a willing crosser. The Eagles have been airtight at home. Continue reading

Serie A Fantasy Preview – Round 19

Cagliari-Milan: the Rossoblù played their worst game of the season against Juventus and will be eager to bounce back here and snap out of a three-game losing streak. Their last two goals were scored by Joao Pedro and Giovanni Simeone and obviously the Brazilian forward, who has tallied 11 in the season, remains their most appealing player, while the ex-Fiorentina man is more inconsistent, but has his moments in the sun. Radja Nainggolan has not been done a lot in the past four games and that has caused a decline in their offensive efficiency. They lack reliable fantasy option behind those because Nahitan Nandez and Marko Rog are not involved in the offense on a regular basis and their yield there is spotty. Their fullbacks, Luca Pellegrini in particular, have picked up few assists. Continue reading

Serie A Fantasy Preview – Round 18

Brescia-Lazio: it did not take much, but the Rondinelle are playing way better after the return of Eugenio Corini and have rediscovered a pair of weapons that had not produced in the first handful of games, such as Ernesto Torregrossa and Nikolas Spalek. Torregrossa is a more natural fit next to Mario Balotelli and, while not overly prolific, he can hit the net from time to time. The Slovenian no.10 instead had struggled to find his footing in the top league, but he is getting there. His emergence, on top of injuries to other midfielders, pushes Romulo to a less offensive position, where he is not as appealing fantasy-wise. Dimitri Bisoli is also faromg  better lately, while Balotelli has corrected his attitude and found the target twice in the past month and is obviously their featured guy up front. Stefano Sabelli is always very frisky for a right-back. Continue reading

Serie A Injury and Suspension Report – Round 14

Atalanta: Luis Muriel and Hans Hateboer subbed off due to knocks on the knee in Champions League, but there is optimism they will be able to play Saturday. Duvan Zapata flew to Spain for further check-ups on his thigh and will remain sidelined. Rafael Toloi is suspended. Simon Kjaer has been ruled out due to fatigue. 

Bologna: Mattia Destro is improving after his knee problem and could be called up, while Mitchell Dijks (toe) and Roberto Soriano (knee) are having troubles absorbing edemas. The midfielder is actually at risk of missing all the December games. Federico Santander is nursing a thigh strain. Continue reading

Serie A Injury and Suspension Report – Round Eight

Juventus:  Danilo is the only injured player returning, while Aaron Ramsey, Mattia De Sciglio and Douglas Costa need more time, even though the first two have resumed practicing fully. 

Inter: Alexis Sanchez underwent surgery to repair some torn peroneal tendons in the left ankle and will miss up to three months. Danilo D’Ambrosio fractured a toe while with Italy and should be out for four weeks. Continue reading

Serie A Fantasy Preview – Round Eight

Lazio-Atalanta: the formula for the Biancocelesti never really changes, as Ciro Immobile is going like gangbusters this year, while Luis Alberto has been their second-best player, especially thanks to his playmaking, as he has already provided five assists. Sergej Milinkovic-Savic and Joaquin Correa have both broken the ice, but they have yet to turn into consistent scorers. The ancillary contributors like Manuel Lazzari and Adam Marusic have been stuck in a timeshare, while Senad Lulic’s fantasy appeal is limited.

The Goddess lost Duvan Zapata for some time due to a muscular injury, so it now will have to be Luis Muriel’s time to shine as the primary go-to-guy. He has scored three times in five appearances despite the irregular playing time and, despite the different skillset, they might not take a big hit there. Continue reading