Serie A Weekly Transfer Market Recap

After two sleepy weeks, Serie A teams have resumed dealing and wheeling with some very interesting purchases over the last few days. Inter finally landed Romelu Lukaku from Manchester United, while Juventus cashed in on Joao Cancelo in a swap with Manchester City, getting back Danilo in the deal. Cagliari pulled off an unexpected one by adding Radja Nainggolan from Inter, then successfully completed the chase for touted prospect Nahitan Nandez from Boca Juniors and, all of a sudden, they have a very crowded and well-assorted midfield despite losing Nicolò Barella.

Milan continue to work on the roster and acquired young centre-back Leo Duarte from Flamengo. He emerged over the last year and a half in Brazil and will contribute to holding down the fort until Mattia Caldara returns later in the year. He will compete with solid but unspectacular Mateo Musacchio to play next to Alessio Romagnoli to open the season.

The week was pretty much dominated by midfielders: a year after letting him go for free, the new Fiorentina management brought back Milan Badelj on loan with option to buy from Lazio, then they snatched Erick Pulgar away from Bologna by exercising the relatively low release clause. The Chilean international was a standout last season and was deadly on penalty, which will come in handy considering the departure of Jordan Veretout. Despite the age difference, the two are pretty similar, so it will be interesting to see whether Vincenzo Montella will tweak his system to accommodate both and perhaps deploy one more attacker.

Genoa have found their new technical leader in Lasse Schone from Ajax who, despite the rather defensive position as pivot, put up great numbers thanks to his ability on set pieces and therefore will be one to look out for in the fantasy game. The Griffon also signed Riccardo Saponara on loan from Fiorentina, whom coach Aurelio Andreazzoli will try to turn into an offensive box-to-box in the Rade Krunic mold, and Colombian youngster Kevin Agudelo from Atletico Huila.

For one brilliant midfielder joining Serie A, another one left as Sampdoria agreed to sell Dennis Praet to Leicester City, who has been a linchpin of their squad over the last three seasons and grew constantly year after year. They acquired Morten Thorsby from Heerenveen and could gamble on a Jakub Jankto resurgence on top of obviously reinvesting the funds on a newcomer.

For once, Atalanta decided to go with an experienced guy rather than bet on potential and brought in Martin Skrtel from Fenerbahce to fill in the gap after Gianluca Mancini left. Gian Piero Gasperini is now back to having five reliable centre-backs to rotate.

A decent coup for Verona, as they won the race for free agent Darko Lazovic, who was pretty good last year at Genoa, where he notched three goals and four assists. He reunites with coach Milan Juric and will be able to play in a number of positions on both flanks. They also grabbed two of the best Serie B players from last season: Gennaro Tutino, on loan from Napoli, who had a terrific year in Cosenza, and Valerio Verre from Sampdoria, who shined in Perugia. They both reached the double-digit threshold and could be significant parts of the 3-4-2-1 tactic Milan Juric is currently using.

Brescia got busy too and signed two presumptive starters in Jaromir Zmhral from Slavia Prague and Giangiacomo Magnani from Sassuolo. The midfielder could be a sneaky fantasy asset, while the centre-back started last season very well but was eventually overshadowed by more talented teammates. Lecce instead added Cristian Dell’Orco, who was serviceable as left centre-back at Empoli in 2018/2019 and will probably end up playing left back for them, alternating with other buzzed about newcomer Brayan Vera.

A pair of players departed from Serie A: Roma sent Rick Karsdorp back to Feyenoord on loan, while Bologna shipped Adam Nagy to Bristol City. The Dutch right back had some okay stretches and at times challenged Alessandro Florenzi, but ultimately he could not stay healthy, while Nagy had become merely a back-up. The Felsinei will have to address the midfield in a meaningful manner.

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Serie A Weekly Transfer Market Recap

There were barely any deal in the first few sleepy days of August, where Fiorentina and Milan were the main protagonists. La Viola signed Kevin-Prince Boateng and Pol Lirola from Sassuolo and sold Vitor Hugo to Palmeiras, hinting a switch to their defensive philosophy since they used to deploy Nikola Milenkovic at right back, but will no go with a more normal and aggressive look. The Rossoneri instead cashed in on Patrick Cutrone, who joined Wolverhampton, and substituted him with Rafael Leao from Lille, who projects to be a better fit next to Krzysztof Piatek, and then announced Ismael Bennacer from Empoli on Sunday. Juventus completed the sale of Moise Kean to EvertonContinue reading

Fiorentina sign Boateng and Lirola from Sassuolo

After a slow start to their window due to the ownership change, Fiorentina are starting to get a move on and added two players from Sassuolo: Kevin-Prince Boateng and Pol Lirola. The 31-year-old journeyman was purchased for a minimal €1M fee, while they spent €14M plus add-ons for the right back.

Boateng started last season well while playing as false-nine for the Neroverdi, scoring four times in 13 games. However, he could not turn down Barcelona’s offer in January, but featured just four times with the Blaugrana. Over his career, he has spent time with Eintracht Frankfurt, Las Palmas, Schalke 04 and Genoa and is obviously best known for his two stints at Milan.

The Ghanaian attacker can feature in a number of positions and plugs the hole left by the departure of Luis Muriel. If they bring in a pure centre-forward or decide to continue relying on Giovanni Simeone, Boateng will end up playing more as second-striker or left winger.

Lirola has been a very energetic fullback over the last three seasons in Emilia, appearing 92 times and notching three goals and seven assists. He is coming off his best season to date, where he provided seven helpers and was a constant thorn on the opponents’ side while motoring up and down the flank.

Fiorentina have been adapted Nikola Milenkovic to that role in the last few years, but they will now utilize a more traditional and offensive-minded right back, with the Serbian youngster deployed as centre-back. As a further indication of that, they sold Vitor Hugo to Palmeiras. The latest rumours also suggest that they could keep former Lecce loanee Lorenzo Venuti, another typical fullback, on the roster to back up the new acquisition.

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Roma win the Jordan Veretout sweepstakes

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Jordan Veretout was one of the most heavily sought-after players in this start of transfer market window and, in the end, it was Roma which came out on top, edging Napoli, which was interested earlier but then focused on other targets, and especially Milan, which tried up until the last fewy days but ultimately could not reach agreement with Fiorentina. The Giallorossi paid €17M plus €2M add-ons to purchase him with the formula of a loan with obligation to buy.

The 26-year-old midfielder leaves La Viola after two positive seasons, where he accrued 75 caps and scored 15 times. In the most recent campaign, he was a little affected by the general blah state of the team, but  still managed to hit the mark five times, always on penalties. Continue reading

Patience Needed With Current Crop of Azzurrini

The U-21 European Championships are unlike any other tournament in world football. Typically, most rosters feature a blend of established talents, your Dani Ceballos’ and Federico Chiesas of the world, mixed with players eager to make a name for themselves on the world stage. What this tournament inevitably leads to, unfortunately for most, is the exaggeration of their talents. While their ability isn’t in question as most of them are, without a doubt, the best their age group has to offer, it’s rare to see an U-21 international push on and live up to the hype, bar a select few. This is no different with the current group of Azzurrini.

While many of them will go on to become established internationals, a majority of them will fizzle out and eventually fade into the background of the hype machine that once proclaimed them to be world beaters. Currently, Azzurrini boss Luigi Di Biagio has one of the most talented group of players at his disposal, yet, it would still be wise to exhibit patience. After all, most of these players are yet to establish themselves as regulars at their respective clubs, for one reason or another.

Take Federico Chiesa, for example. After breaking out onto the scene at Fiorentina, the winger is now seen as the future of Italian football. His electric performances against Spain and Poland have pushed him further into the limelight of the nation, and have now burdened him with immense expectations. Recently, it’s been reported that the new Fiorentina brass have slapped an 100 million euro price-tag on the young man. Remember, he’s just 21, and has only just come of his first full season as a regular starter in Tuscany.

For some, this newfound responsibility acts as the catalyst for their progression, while for others, it slowly eats away at them until their talent becomes a thing of the past and they become average, middling professionals. Look at Mattia De Sciglio, who was once dubbed the ‘Next Maldini’. Today, the defender is a reliable fullback, but is the furthest thing from a world beater.

Luckily for Italian football, it appears Chiesa thrives with this pressure on his shoulders and spurs him on to become a better player. You would expect no less from the son of Enrico Chiesa, if we’re being honest. But not every player is like the Fiorentina man. Looking at Di Biagio’s roster, a number of players stick out from the rest: Moise Kean, Nicolo Zaniolo, Alex Meret and Nicolo Barella among others. These players, at one point or another, demonstrated the potential to become world beaters. While getting lost in their hype, it’s easy to forget they’re still teenagers with the world at their feet.

If the past is anything to go by, heaping immense expectations on these teens inevitably leads to failure. For every Alessandro Del Piero that has emerged from the Azzurrini, there is a Domenico Berardi. Italian media loves to sensationalize the current crop of talents, but they would be wise to exhibit caution, and allow these players to become their own men.

Like in anything in life, we must learn from the past and our mistakes not to repeat them. Despite these warnings, and there have been many, Italian football seems dead-set on proclaiming this generation as calcio’s saving grace.

Perhaps it stems from a burning desire to reach former heights, or perhaps there’s something larger at play here; a cultural aspect, of sorts. The need to keep the memories of former greats alive or, on the other side of the spectrum, the need for something new; something better than what we already have. Regardless, Italians are playing dangerous game forcing their talents to skip crucial steps in their progression and expect them to become great overnight. Eventually, it may come back to haunt the current iteration of Azzurrini, as it has so often occurred in years past. As always, only time will tell.

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Where next for Federico Chiesa?

With the summer transfer window now open, Fiorentina winger Federico Chiesa is attracting interest from Italy’s elite, as well as a host of other European giants. Coming off his best season with la viola, it’s only natural that the 21-year-old is turning heads. However, in recent times, Fiorentina’s brass have come out and denied rumours linking their star with a move away.

The statement is as follows, as per Football Italia: 

“We have read continuous news about Chiesa’s future and where he will play next season. The current owners would like to point out that Federico is a Fiorentina player, linked to the club by a long contract, and therefore, as far as we are concerned, Chiesa will play in Florence next season. He must be a symbolic player for the team we will build.”

This season Chiesa had his most productive season in Florence, scoring 12 goals and registering three assists in all competitions. The Italian international mostly featured on the right wing as an out-and-out winger or in a deeper role as a wing-back, but also made cameos on the opposite wing and even centrally.

Due to his versatility, Inter and Juventus have enquired about the 21-year-old but are yet to submit a formal bid to Fiorentina. Bayern Munich are also said to be interested in Chiesa. Let’s now assess the Fiorentina man’s options going into this summer.

1) Inter

After recently appointing Antonio Conte, Inter are now ready to begin their summer transfer window, and have reportedly identified Chiesa as one of their targets. Given Conte will introduce his trademark 3-5-2 shortly, the Inter tactician will need two-way wide players capable of making the difference. Chiesa represents exactly this, and will likely slot in wonderfully on the right-hand side in Milano.

While the winger has demonstrated that he’s capable of delivering the goods in his final third all-while remaining defensively responsible, he’s always played his best football when tracking back wasn’t his priority. Currently, neither Matteo Politano or Antonio Candreva fit the bill of a traditional Conte wide man, hence the Chiesa links remain in play. Riddled of their Financial Fair Play concerns, except Inter to emerge as a major player in the Chiesa sweepstakes.

2) Juventus

Juventus have been keeping tabs on the Fiorentina winger for the better part of one year now, and will reportedly use the summer transfer window to lure him to Turin. However, with Douglas Costa, Federico Bernardeschi and Juan Cuadrado still at the club, Juve’s wide areas are heavily populated and Chiesa will find playing time hard to come by.

Given Juve’s need to bolster their midfield and defence, 70 million euros on a winger would be money poorly spent. Moreover, the bianconeri are still without a manager, and will hold off on any major purchases for the time being. In any case, Juventus are arguably not the best fit for the young winger as he’ll need consistent playing time to progress his game. Despite this, much like Inter, the Italian champions will likely table a bid for Chiesa shortly.

3) Bayern Munich 

According to the Gazzetta dello Sport, the German giants have recently seen their offer  rejected by Chiesa, as the winger prefers to remain in Serie A. As Franck Ribery and Arjen Robben are set to hang up the boots in Bavaria, Bayern Munich are now targeting a number of wingers to bolster their ranks.

Bayern are said to be interested in Manchester City’s Leroy Sane, but are keeping tabs on Fiorentina’s Chiesa, as well. While Bayern’s offensive style of play would suit Chiesa, leaving Italy at this stage in his career may not be the best bet. Despite the early rejection, don’t rule them out just yet.

In any case, Chiesa would be wise on holding off a move for the time being, and use the following year to develop his game further. Currently, there are concerns over the winger’s decision-making and end product, and he could really use another season in Tuscany.

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Handanović relieved to secure Champions League berth

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Samir Handanović spoke to Inter TV in the immediate aftermath of the Nerazzurri’s crucial 2-1 victory over Empoli last night. The Nerazzurri captain once again turned in a superb performance, making several critical saves before Radja Nainggolan scored a typically late winner in front of a packed San Siro. Here is what the Slovenian had to say: Continue reading

Nainggolan thanks Inter fans for their unwavering support

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Radja Nainggolan spoke to the media in the immediate aftermath of Inter’s 2-1 victory over Empoli last night, which secured their passage to the group stage of next season’s UEFA Champions League. Indeed, the Belgian scored the goal which ultimately allowed the Nerazzurri to achieve their main objective, but reserved special praise for the club’s fans for their support throughout the match. Here is what he had to say: Continue reading

Spalletti delighted by Inter’s never say die attitude

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Luciano Spalletti spoke to the media in the aftermath of last night’s 2-1 victory over Empoli, which allowed Inter to secure a place in next season’s UEFA Champions League group stage. The Tuscan coach was very pleased by his players’ willingness to fight until the end and overcoming the nerves and tension within the confines of San Siro. Here is what he had to say: Continue reading

Spalletti warns Inter players to roll up their sleeves against Empoli

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Luciano Spalletti spoke to the media in the aftermath of Inter’s 4-1 thrashing at the hands of Napoli last night. While keen to stress that qualification for next season’s UEFA Champions League group stage remains in the Nerazzurri’s hands, the Tuscan tactician did not hold back when asked what went wrong for his side at the Stadio San Paolo. Here is what he had to say: Continue reading