It was a dull week as Italians do not bother working around the 15th of August, but Roma dominated the news in the last two days, announcing three extensions: Nicolò Zaniolo, Cengiz Under and Edin Dzeko. The first two were expected, as Zaniolo had been playing on a minimal contract after last summer’s move directly from Inter’s youth academy, and Under is a big part of the plan, while the third one came out of the blue since Dzeko has been long expected to move to Inter, but he will stick around instead, removing one end of the supposed strikers’ carousel. Continue reading
After previously analyzing the keeper, center back, wing back, midfielder and winger market in Serie A, it’s time to close out this series by analyzing the striker position. Let’s first look at the current situation for the top Italian teams:
Juventus- Cristiano Ronaldo did his part in the Champions League by scoring the bianconeri’s five last goals in the competition, Moise’ Kean broke out in 2019 while Mario Mandzukic ran out of gas in second part of season for second year in a row, Paulo Dybala struggled significantly playing next to Ronaldo and only scored 10 goals in all competitions. Higuain could be a significant factor here, because Juventus will be hard pressed to find him a new home to avoid his enormous wages impacting their balance sheet.
Napoli- while Milik scored over 20 goals this season, his miss in the group stages against Liverpool maybe the most memorable moment of his campaign. Dries Mertens had a very strong finish to the season and is determined to stay at club for foreseeable future while Roberto Inglese, who was on loan at Parma, could be used in a deal to secure a bigger name.
Atalanta- in a recent interview, the Bergamaschi’s president Percassi stated that Papu Gomez and Ilicic (who has just one year left on his deal) will stay while Duvan Zapata could be on the move. Highly rated prospect Musa Barrow struggled to find consistent playing time.
Inter- Lautaro Martinez had an overall positive season first season in Serie A since he proved to be a versatile striker but ended up with just 9 goals in all competitions- although he wasn’t help by the fact that Spalletti didn’t think he and Mauro Icardi could play together. Speaking of Icardi, it’s remarkable how much his stock has fallen in 2019…
Milan- with Marco Giampaolo expected to be the next manager, the rossoneri could be playing two strikers regularly- one of which will certainly be Piatek while Cutrone could represent a substantial plusvalenza by being sold since he’s a homegrown player. After a an uneven season in la Liga, Andre’ Silva will either return to Milan or more likely his agent Jorge Mendes will have to find him a third team in three years.
Roma- with the giallorossi determined to slash their payroll after failing to qualify for the Champions League, Edin Dzeko is certain to leave now that he has just one year on his deal. While Patrik Schick showed some flashes of his Sampdoria form at the beginning of 2019 after he hired a personal motivator, he still has yet to come close to justifying his transfer fee and there’s been a talk of a swap with Andre’ Silva that would send him to Milan where he would be reunited with Marco Giampaolo, the manager who got the most out of him.
Lazio- Ciro Immobile had his worst season at Lazio but still scored 15 goals in Serie A while Felipe Caicedo showed significant improvement in his second year in Italy. The biancocelesti have recently linked to FIFA superstar Wesley who would be an intriguing long term addition.
Let’s take a look at which strikers could be on the move:
Fabio Quagliarella- the 36 year old attacker finished the season as the league’s top scorer and could be on the move this summer. Napoli are considering bringing him back, which would also be an attempt to mend fences with their fan base. It however remains to be seen if Quagliarella is willing to go to a team where he won’t be a guaranteed starter since he’s looking to be part of Italy’s team for next year’s Euro.
Duvan Zapata/Josip Ilicic- Quagliarella isn’t the only former Napoli player linked with a return to the Amalfi coast this summer, in fact Duvan Zapata is now De Laurentiis and Giuntoli’s top target. The Colombian striker was an afterthought for Maurizio Sarri, but he would be an ideal number 9 in Ancelotti’s system. Atalanta’s president Percassi said that if an offer for around 50/60 million for Zapata he may not be able to say no..
Zapata isn’t the only Atalanta player linked to Napoli. In fact there are reliable reports that he has agreed to personal terms with the partenopei on a three year deal, and considering that he has just one year left on his current contract with Atalanta, they will almost certainly have to either give him a raise to extend him, or sell him this summer to avoid losing him for free in 2020.
Mauro Icardi- just 6 months ago many thought his 110 million exit clause was a relative bargain on the transfer market. But after all the recent drama and his inability to score from the run of play since returning to the team (in addition to missing a penalty in the key last match), his value has plummeted.
Icardi has made it clear he wants to stay at Inter, but it remains to be seen if Antonio Conte will allow him to be such a big distraction to the start of his new project. There has been talk of a potential swap for Dybala, which won’t be easy to pull off for a variety of reasons, but a club like Atletico Madrid, who isn’t afraid to invest in reclamation projects, could be an even better fit.
Edin Dzeko- regardless of what happens with Icardi, the Bosnian striker will almost certainly join Inter who are offering him a three year deal. Dzeko is a perfect fit for Conte’s system and is expected to be an ideal mentor for Lautaro Martinez.
Mario Mandzukic- despite signing an extension a few months ago, the Croatian striker will likely leave Juventus this summer. Mandzukic would have almost certainly stayed had Allegri not been relieved of his duties, but with Sarri expected to come, he’s less than an ideal fit in Juventus’ system moving forward. Manduzkic could cash in by playing in China for the next few season.
Andrea Petagna- the former Milan striker had a breakout season by scoring 16 goals for SPAL and could now move to a bigger club. Petagna would be an ideal fit at Roma since his style of play is so similar to Dzeko, in preparation for a potential move, his current club SPAL has already targeted Francesco Caputo, who also scored 16 goals last season playing for Empoli.
Atalanta-Sassuolo: the Goddess survived Juventus’ second half push last week and returned from Turin with a precious point that allowed them to catch Inter and maintain a narrow lead over Milan. They have not lost since February 23rd and triumphed in eight of the following 12 rounds. Sassuolo are right in the middle of the pack but played spoiler last week by drawing with Roma. They have been defeated just once in the last eight matches, tying in five occasions. Josip Ilicic scored at the Stadium after being shut out for few weeks and also their rock Duvan Zapata and Alejandro Gomez will be popular picks since the Neroverdi are not the stingiest bunch. Neither are the Bergamaschi to be honest: the locals have spread the wealth in terms of scoring, but in general Domenico Berardi, Jeremie Boga and Stefano Sensi have been their best contributors in the final months. Hans Hateboer’s suspension makes it clear that Timothy Castagne and Robin Gosens will man the flanks: the former is more interesting since he is listed as a defender and in the midst of a prolific run. Continue reading
Sassuolo-Roma: the Neroverdi were handed their first loss since April last week by Torino, even though they certainly put up a fight, despite not being in need of points. The Giallorossi defeated Juventus with a late surge, garnering their fourth win in the last six rounds, tying in the other two and staying close to the fourth spot. Sassuolo have found the target in five of the last six rounds and La Lupa have not been great defensively on the road: they have spread the wealth around since Domenico Berardi was the only one to bag one in multiple matches. Jeremie Boga, Stefano Sensi, Manuel Locatelli and all the defenders contributed scoring-wise: Boga and Sensi have been their most lively contributors in the last few fixtures. The Giallorossi are getting a lot from Stephan El Shaarawy and Edin Dzeko, while the latest tactical change, if confirmed, would help the likes of Nicolò Zaniolo, Cengiz Under and Justin Kluivert, as the last two would see more minutes. Lorenzo Pellegrini is iffy due to a thigh ailment and his absence could allow Bryan Cristante to have a big role.
Antonio Mirante (7 points): he prevented Roma from going down in the score time and time again in the Juventus clash, superbly rejecting Juan Cuadrado and Paulo Dybala’s point-blank finishes.
Alessio Romagnoli (5 points): just three clean sheets in this round, so all the top point-getters among defenders come from Roma and Milan. The Rossoneri captain did not necessarily have the most imposing outing, but led the back-line in Florence, contributing to holding La Viola scoreless.
Cedric Soares (5 points): Inter easily stopped Chievo on Sunday night, allowing their defenders to haul in five points, which are enough to make the TOTW in this round. The right back contributed to the second goal by hitting the post, then Ivan Perisic cashed in on the rebound.
In a round that included just two shutout wins, by Roma and Milan, the Giallorossi got the best result of the week, even though they did not exactly dominate the clash with Juventus and were lucky not to go down in the score. Bologna had the most convincing display, but Parma’s consolation goal and the fact that they were gifted two own hauls did not make for a rich fantasy haul.
They had tied in Genoa the week before, letting Atalanta slip away in the standings. They have not lost since March 31st, winning four out of seven games.
Claudio Ranieri tilted his approach and went with an interesting tactic that saw Steven N’Zonzi as the lone pivot, sandwiched between Nicolò Zaniolo and Lorenzo Pellegrini, while Justin Kluivert started on the right wing, completing the trident that comprised Edin Dzeko and Stephan El Shaarawy as per usual. Continue reading
Atalanta-Genoa: the Bergamaschi keep soaring and bested Lazio in a seminal clash last week, garnering their third win a row and building a little lead over Roma in the race to get the fourth position. They have not been defeated since the beginning of March. The Griffon is coming off two 1-1 ties in a row, versus SPAL and Roma, squandering a massive late opportunity on Sunday. They are four points above the third-to-last position. Suspensions are piling up for Gian Piero Gasperini and he will not be able to count on two defensive centre-pieces, Gianluca Mancini and Andrea Masiello, and more importantly on Alejandro Gomez, which will also not allow him to rotate the squad much ahead of next week’s cup final. Josip Ilicic and Duvan Zapata will take on an even larger load than usual: the Slovenian genius has been slowed down by some nagging injuries, while the Colombian powerhouse continues to lay hurt on opponents. Continue reading
Some other games were more high scoring, but Genoa-Roma carried some meaning for both teams, was end-to-end stuff for ninety plus minutes and also featured an insane ending.
The Rossoblù came into the match trying to nab their first W in six rounds, where they had lost four times, and thus avoid sliding too close to the fire, while Roma, who had prevailed in three of their previous four fixtures, were gunning for heavy points in the Champions League race. Continue reading
Juventus: Paulo Dybala (quad), Douglas Costa (calf), Mario Mandzukic (knee) and Rodrigo Bentancur (thigh) remain on the shelf and have been joined by Daniele Rugani and Alex Sandro due to new thigh injuries. Martin Caceres has recovered. Emre Can was removed late from the squad list due to a muscular ailment.
Napoli: Lorenzo Insigne and Allan have both recuperated. Nikola Maksimovic (toe) and Amadou Diawara (foot) stay sidelined.
Inter: Matias Vecino has been ruled out due to a thigh contracture. Continue reading
David Ospina: he is reportedly drawing the starts in order to trigger the option to buy him from Arsenal, either way, he or Alex Meret are in a good spot this week since Cagliari would have by far the worst clip in terms road goal if they had not scored three to Chievo and they might be without their second banana Joao Pedro on Sunday.
Federico Fazio: Roma have turned it around defensively, conceding just once in the last three matches and this week they will tangle with a Genoa team that has scored in just three of their last ten fixtures. The Argentinian centre-back and Aleksandar Kolarov are also the most likely to contribute on the other end considering their remarkable season tallies. Continue reading