What Inter’s pursuit of Danilo says of market for wingbacks

In recent years we saw the value of center backs sky rocket on the market. The old adage that you should only spend significantly on goal scorer was turned over its head with the prices paid for David Luiz, John Stones and finally when Virgil Van Dijk’s transfer set the record for highest fee paid for a player at his position.

It has now become an expectation that above average center backs will go for very significant prices since they are now viewed as must haves for clubs that want to win. This same phenomenon is expected to now also start applying to a position that is even more scarce on the market, especially for Serie A clubs, with fullbacks/wingbacks becoming the “IT” position- everyone wants them but few have them.

The rule of supply and demand certainly also applies to football transfers. If there are very few quality players at a certain position and have multiple teams bidding on them, their price will increase faster than Salah flies down the pitch. The domino effect of this is that even lesser players will start going for fees that will surprise the average fan- I was thinking about all these factors when we first heard Inter are strongly pursuing Danilo.

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The nerazzurri have had a revolving door at the right back position. They would have liked to keep Cancelo last summer, but their Financial Fair Play restrictions made it next to impossible so they brought Sime Vrsaljko back to Serie A on a loan with option to buy deal but the former Sassuolo defender struggled after suffering an injury during Croatia’s impressive run in the World Cup.

To their credit, Inter acted quickly to fill the void during the January window by acquiring Cedric Soares in January (on you guessed it, a loan with option to buy deal) but the Portuguese international failed to impress leaving Danilo D’Ambrosio as Spalletti’s more reliable option at right back. Inter are already looking to the future and have identified Danilo as their top target.

The Brazilian failed to establish himself at Manchester City and is now looking for a new opportunity. But there’s an issue- his enormous wages. The scarcity at the right back position helped Danilo land a contract with annual wages of around 5 million euro net of taxes including substantial bonuses. To put things in perspective, that is more than Skriniar received on his recent extension and about what Inter’s top earners make.

Are Inter desperate enough to fill the void at the right back position that they’ll come close to offering Danilo his current wages to entice him to come? While Danilo does have serious defensive liabilities, you would probably get the most out of his offensive abilities by using him as a right wing back on a defense that features three stud center backs- something Inter will have once they announce the signing of Diego Godin. In addition, when Inter scan the market, they’ll see that there aren’t enough options to fill the needs of all the teams in the market for a right back- including many of their rivals in Serie A.

It wasn’t long ago that Napoli had one of the best wingback duos in Serie A in Hysaj and Ghoulam. While the Albanian right back’s struggles can be partly justified by the fact Sarri left (the two were together at Empoli before reuniting at Napoli), he went from being arguably the most complete player at his position in Serie A to a total liability. Ghoulam on the other hand has never been the same player since his second knee injury.

To replace Hysaj, Napoli are looking for a player to compliment Malcuit who has shown to be quite adept offensively. The partenopei’s first target is Tottenham’s Kieran Trippier, who would certainly be an intriguing option for Ancelotti- it remains to be seen if Napoli can convince him to leave the Premier League (where he’s also being pursued by Manchester United) and if they can meet Tottenham’s price. In addition to Napoli, bot Roma and Lazio could use upgrades at both wing back positions while Milan could consider looking to improve from Ricardo Rodriguez.

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Considering how competitive the wing back market has become in recent years, it’s not surprisingly to have seen Juventus invest so much at the position. The bianconeri gave a substantial raise to Alex Sandro despite his fairly significant drop in performance in the past two season and then invested 40 million euro in Joao Cancelo. Juventus didn’t stop there since they also acquired De Sciglio last summer and decided to bring Spinazzola back to Turin.

Trying to bridge the gap with the bianconeri at the wing back position will be a priority for Serie A clubs this summer- considering the lack of quality options, one thing is for sure- it will be very expensive to try and make it happen.

 

Serie A Team of the Week – Round 32

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The round was rather meager in terms of scoring, but prolific for defenders.

Andrea Consigli (7 points): Sassuolo pulled the strings for most of the clash with Parma, but it was not for his save on Fabio Ceravolo’s penalty in the first half they could have found themselves in a very eerie situation.

Frank Kessié (9 points): the Milan powerhouse decided the seminal bout with Lazio with a penalty, which perhaps he should not have even taken, and went mano-a-mano with the talented opponents all night long. Continue reading

Serie A Match of the Round – Napoli vs Bologna

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Heading into the round, it looked like Napoli could have an easy time against Bologna, which had not scored in the previous three games and had never won on the road, however it turned out to be a very entertaining game and the Azzurri had to resort to more late-game heroics to come away with the W.

The Campania side came into the game looking to avenge Wednesday’s tough loss against Inter, where they were pipped due to a Lautaro Martinez goal after Kwadwo Asamoah had a goal-line clearance on Piotr Zielinski. The Felsinei have not won in ages, since September 30th, but salvaged some draws here and there. Continue reading

Serie A Fantasy Recap – Round 19

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Standings implications: nothing changes in the upper echelon after the final game of 2018, as the top three teams did not look particularly impressive, but all came away with wins as Juventus and Napoli outlasted Sampdoria and Bologna and Inter beat Empoli on the road. Lazio and Torino shared the spoils in a very nervous games and this result allows Milan, who finally came through against SPAL, and Roma, which blitzed Parma, to close the gap for the fourth spot. In the Europa League race, Atalanta pummeled Sassuolo, while Fiorentina drew with Genoa. In the lower districts, Udinese outfaced Cagliari and Chievo finally earned their first win of the season by besting Frosinone in a battle of sad sacks.   Continue reading

Serie A Team of the Week – Round 13

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The last round was a little meager in terms of scoring because few teams that were shut out. Here are the best performers.

Stefano Sorrentino (7 points): defenses bounced back after struggling in the match days prior to the break and nine teams managed to keep a clean sheet. None was more impressive than Chievo’s one at San Paolo, where their goalie made eight saves, including a pair of key and beautiful ones. Lukasz Skorupski and Alessio Cragno’s performances to stymie Fiorentina was also noteworthy.

William Troost-Ekong (5 points): a myriad of defenders got five points because their sides did not concede. The Udinese centre-back played a major role in stifling Roma on Saturday, blanketing first Patrik Schick and then Edin Dzeko. Continue reading

Serie A Injury Report – Round 12

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Juventus: Sami Khedira (hamstring) and Mario Mandzukic (ankle) played in Champions League, while Douglas Costa was ruled out for another thigh problem, same for Moise Kean. They are unlikely to be available for the weekend. Federico Bernardeschi is questionable for the muscular ailment that has been bugging him for a while.

Inter:  Radja Nainggolan started against Barcelona, but he is still less than 100 percent because of the recent ankle sprain so he could be rested.

Napoli: Dries Mertens subbed off versus PSG because of a bruised shoulder, but he avoided further complications and should be good to go for the weekend. Continue reading

Serie A Injury Report – Round 11

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Juventus: Mario Mandzukic has practiced fully this week so he has recovered from an ankle sprain. Sami Khedira has resumed training regularly in the last couple of days after a hamstring strain and he could be available in limited capacity on Saturday. Giorgio Chiellini and Federico Bernardeschi are fatigued and have been ruled out by coach Allegri. Emre Can will miss 30-40 days after having his thyroid removed for some nodules.

Inter:  Radja Nainggolan has worked his way back from an ankle sprain and he could play few minutes on Saturday.
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Serie A Injury Report – Round 10

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Juventus: Mario Mandzukic missed the Champions League game with an ankle sprain and will not be available in the weekend. Emre Can is dealing with a thyroid issue and his status is uncertain until further tests. Sami Khedira will skip a couple more games with his hamstring strain.

Napoli: Lorenzo Insigne subbed off against PSG for a knock on the chest but he should be good to go. Simone Verdi could miss up to a month with a grade one thigh (adductor) strain. Alex Meret and Faouzi Ghoulam were called up midweek, while Adam Ounas and Sebatiano Luperto were out because of muscle fatigue, which they will try to solve by Sunday. Continue reading

Etihad Stadium’s Expansion: Worth it or Futile?

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etihad_stadium09English giants Manchester City have gone from strength to strength since 2008 when the club was acquired by billionaire Sheikh Mansoor with the constant struggle in the initial years’ largely forgotten by the supporters. The same opponents who deemed the prospect of acquiring 3 points against the Citizens as nothing short of a cakewalk earlier now shiver in fear at the prospect of battling it out against Pep Guardiola’s outfit.

This has been largely possible due to the finances pumped in at regular intervals by the owners who have ensured a regular flow of finances through thick and thin. At the same time, there have been astute investments at play as well especially in the transfer market. Manchester City opted to invest in quality acquisitions like Sergio Aguero, David Silva, Pablo Zabaleta, Vincent Kompany during a stage when clubs were increasingly orthodox when it came to pulling off transfer deals with the benefits increasingly evident currently.

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Serie A Weekly News Recap

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Most of the big stuff was done prior to deadline day in Serie A, but it still had a little bit of drama with Simone Zaza picking Torino over Sampdoria after the Blucerchiati had sealed the deal with Valencia. He will now form an interesting couple with Andrea Belotti and the Granata also brought in another familiar face: Roberto Soriano from Villarreal. Two valuable additions that might allow them to seriously challenge for a Europa League spot this year. They also obtained on loan the right back Ola Aina from Chelsea and the centre-back Koffi Djidji from Nantes to complete the defence. Continue reading