Petrachi’s vision for Roma is starting to take shape

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The first month of the summer transfer window was quite painful for Roma. While almost everyone expected to see Kostas Manolas leave because of his below market value exit clause, seeing him end up at Napoli was the worse case scenario, since not only did he stay in Serie A, he went on to improve a direct competitor for a Champions League spot. Then we had both De Rossi and Totti leave the top in controversial manner, followed by El Shaarawy’s decision to play in China.

The giallorossi’s new sporting director Gianluca Petrachi inherited a team that lost its captain, best defender and most consistent attacker after failing to qualify for the next edition of the Champions League. But the former Torino ds has made significant progress in rebuilding the giallorossi in the past few weeks.

Petrachi addressed the two positions with the most imminent needs by acquiring Pau Lopez and Gianluca Mancini. The former Real Betis player is the most expensive keeper in Roma’s history, his acquisition is a clear sign the club learned from the mistake of gambling Olsen to replace Alisson while the former Atalanta center back confirmed at the recent Under 21 Euro that he’s ready to become an important player for Mancini’s senior Azzurri squad.

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The improvements shown by Bryan Cristante in the second half of last season, should give Roma fans hope that Mancini won’t be another example of Gasperini’s fool’s gold struggling at a bigger club. On top of his defensive prowess, Mancini also was the defender to score the most in Serie A last season.

Petrachi also rekindled an important relationship on the transfer market with Juventus. Following Miralem Pjanic’s move to Turin via his exit clause, the giallorossi had stopped doing business with the bianconeri- but the clubs rekindled their bond by consuming a deal that was mutually beneficial financially with Leonardo Spinazzola moving to Italy’s capital and Juventus acquiring the younger Luca Pellegrini (both clubs recorded a significant capital gain for this transaction).

To help replace De Rossi’s contributions on the pitch, Roma made significant investments in Amadou Diawara and Jordan Veretout. Both players have significant Serie A experience and could be the starters in front of the defense in Fonseca’s 4 2 3 1 with Lorenzo Pellegrini playing in his preferred role behind the central striker.

Petrachi’s first round of moves will likely have a domino effect on what we can expect next. After a disappointing first season in Serie A, Steven N’Zonzi will almost certainly be sold since there’s no longer a need with him with Diawara and Vertout on board- he’ll likely join either Marseille or Lyon. Spinazzola’s ability to play on both sides of the pitch will likely make Alessandro Florenzi expandable, his departure would continue the exodus of the “Romani” from the club and of the players with high salaries.

The deal for Spinazzola could be the appetizer to a bigger move between Juventus and Roma. The bianconeri are determined to move Gonzalo Higuain, and despite his brother’s public stance of not wanting to play for another Serie A team, the Argentine striker is warming up to the idea of being the focal point in Fonseca’s attack. But now the clubs have to find a suitable financial arrangement because Higuain enormous annual salary of 18 million euro before taxes isn’t sustainable for Roma.

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Juventus are trying to convince Higuain to extend his contract which currently has two years remaining to add a third season while lowering his salary over the live of the contract. The bianconeri would likely have to sweeten the deal to ensure they don’t have his amortized value on the books for the current fiscal year. 

In addition to Higuain, Roma are also looking to add Suso to bolster their front line- but at the moment Petrachi would prefer to send a player to Milan in exchange rather than just pay his 40 million exit clause- but it’s hard to envision Boban and Maldini having any interest in the likes of Javier Pastore.

While Pau Lopez and Mancini are a nice start to the improvement of a subpar defense, Petrachi needs at least another starting caliber center back because of Fazio’s age and Marcano’s return to Porto. Landing Toby Alderweireld would be ideal since he would bring significant experience to help in Mancini’s growth- just like Higuain, it would be a substantial financial investment but at least Roma can count on Franco Baldini (who previously worked for Alderweireld’s current club Spurs) working as the intermediary in the negotiation.

Petrachi will also have to figure out what to do with Edin Dzeko, who would almost certainly join Inter should Gonzalo Higuain arrive, as well as Nicolo’ Zaniolo. The giallorossi have struggled to reach an agreement with his agent Vigorelli on an extension, and judging by Petrachi’s public quotes, there seems to be quite a bit of distance. Zaniolo could be used as an asset to unlock either the Higuain or Alderweireld deals while bringing in a significant plusvalenza.

While Petrachi inherited numerous challenges, he has started to rebuild a new Roma by addressing the biggest needs first- what he does in the coming weeks will now determine how ambitions the giallorossi can be next season.

 

Serie A Weekly Transfer Market Recap

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All in all, it was a pretty quiet week in Serie A, but it still included some massive deals, as Juventus pulled off one of the transfers of the summer by acquiring Matthijs De Ligt from Ajax, while Roma have commenced re-building the back-line with Gianluca Mancini from Atalanta and won the race to sign Jordan Veretout from Fiorentina

The Orobici have signed Ruben Malinovskyi from Genk, who is somebody to keep an eye on fantasy-wise since he was extremely productive in Belgium, thanks to penalties and other set pieces. Continue reading

Roma acquire Mancini from Atalanta

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Roma have signed Gianluca Mancini from Atalanta, their first addition to the back-line after losing Kostas Manolas and Ivan Marcano. The 23-year-old defender joins on a €2M season-long loan with a €13M obligation to buy from Atalanta (plus €8M add-ons) and inked a five-year deal.

Mancini took over the starting job in his second season with the Bergamaschi, after the departure of Mattia Caldara, collecting 30 appearances in 2018/2019. On top of showing considerable improvements and impressive muscularity in the back, he was a proper menace attacking on set pieces and found the target five times. He has been a regular in Roberto Mancini’s recent call-ups and featured twice with the Azzurri. The Goddess signed him from Perugia in the summer of 2017 after he displayed good promise in Serie B. Continue reading

Atalanta Demonstrate Ambition Ahead of Champions League debut

When Atalanta clinched top four on the final match-day of the season, the critics were out. With vultures circling their side after an impressive year, it looked likely that Gli Orobici’s carefully constructed roster would be dismantled piece by piece. The fear, of course, was that Atalanta, with many key players on their way out, would embarrass Italy on the world stage. However, nothing of the sort appears to be happening.

First, Roma were heavily interested in Gian Piero Gasperini, offering him a long-term deal in the nation’s capital. Opting to lead the side into Europe’s elite competition for the first time ever, the veteran tactician quickly rebuffed their advances. Since joining Atalanta, Gasperini has revived his managerial career, and has transformed the side into a high-flying attacking machine. It’s only right the former Inter manager sees this experience through to the fullest, and leads the side into their first Champions League campaign ever.

In a recent press conference, Gasperini spoke about Roma’s interest. “It would’ve been difficult to leave Atalanta right now,” said Gasperini. “It would’ve almost been a betrayal. Roma were tempting, but what we achieved kept me here,” added the tactician, as per Football Italia.

After keeping their leader aboard, the next step was securing the futures of their regulars. In the early goings of the transfer window, Napoli made strong moves for Josip Ilicic and Hans Hateboer, and reportedly agreed to terms with both players. Despite their interest, the club pushed hard for their stays and both players inevitably decided that remaining in Bergamo was their best option for the upcoming season.

Then, it was Gianluca Mancini that was on every team’s shortlist. Roma, among others, were interested, but the Italian international now appears set to stay. Mancini broke out last season under Gasperini, and established himself as one of Gli Orobici’s leaders in the locker room. His presence at the heart of defence and fearlessness will be much needed in Europe, especially considering Atalanta’s group will be no cakewalk. Currently, the Bergamo-based outfit are in pot four, meaning there’s a strong possibility they will be drawn with at least one of the likes of Manchester City, Barcelona, Paris Saint-Germain, Real Madrid, and current holders Liverpool.

But this doesn’t scare Gasperini or Atalanta one bit. When asked about who he wants to play, the 61-year-old had no doubts. “The best. That’s what we want,” said Gasperini. “If I had to choose, I’d go to Madrid against Real Madrid because they have a historic stadium. And then England. Our chances aren’t very high, so it’s better to go and play with the best,” added the tactician.

As the weeks passed, every one of Atalanta’s standout players were linked with moves away, yet June has now come and gone, and their side is still completely intact. In fact, Atalanta have recently confirmed the arrival of Luis Muriel. After a successful loan spell with Fiorentina that saw him bag nine goals in 23 appearances in all competitions, Gli Orobici identified the forward as a priority and quickly put pen to paper on an 18 million euro deal with Sevilla.

The 28-year-old will fit like a glove in Gasperini’s high-press system, and will be deadly on the counter-attack alongside Papu Gomez, Duvan Zapata, and Josip Ilicic. Last season, Atalanta scored the most goals in league play with an astonishing 77, and look set to continue their offensive ways. While depth was previously a concern now that they’ll be competing on three fronts, Muriel’s arrival now gives Gasperini’s more options in the final third, and will allow him to rest Zapata when need be.

With just one month of the summer transfer window gone, the early signs are positive for Atalanta. They’ve kept their coach, rejected advances from many of Italy’s top sides for their key performers, and are slowly improving their roster with standouts from fellow mid-table sides. While it may be premature, Atalanta could very well go from being Italy’s surprise package to Europe’s latest darlings in just one summer.

Are you a Serie A expert? Can you defeat the top Serie A Fantasy Managers? If you think so, playwww.fantayseriea.com now!

 

Roberto Mancini Puts Italy on the Right Track

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Since being appointed as Italy boss, Roberto Mancini has set Gli Azzurri on the right path, and has guided them to four wins out of four in their Euro 2020 qualifying campaign thus far. 

In their most recent clashes, Italy travelled to Athens to take on Greece, and dispatched their European counterparts within thirty-three minutes, by a score of 3-0.

In their next game against Bosnia, Mancini’s men fell behind early, but mounted a second half comeback to prevail by a score of 2-1. Under Gian Piero Ventura, the side lacked character, and would have likely dropped points in a game like this. With these two wins, Italy now find themselves comfortably in first place, scoring 13 goals, and conceding one in the process. In addition to getting results, this is the best football Italy have played in recent memory, and have demonstrated an identity.

Once again, Mancini was rewarded for sticking with the highly technical midfield of Nicolo Barella, Jorginho, and Marco Verratti, and now has his side well on their way to the upcoming Euros. Together, the trio provide a blend of youth, experience and quality on the ball, and offer the national team some much needed creativity in the final third.

While many initially doubted the midfield’s defensive awareness given their smaller frames, Verratti, Jorginho and Barella have demonstrated they are capable of offering solidity to their back four. Given their similar profiles, Verratti and Jorginho often interchange roles at the base of the midfield, and don’t give their opponents a reference point.

With Barella making late, unmarked, runs into the box, it makes for a truly malleable midfield; something the Azzurri have sorely lacked over the past four years. The Cagliari captain’s drive has been rewarded, and already has two goals on the qualifying campaign.

Much like it’s the case in the midfield, Mancini has not shied away from taking risks with his front three. Since his appointment, the former Inter tactician has called up a number of up and coming talents, including the likes of Moise Kean and Federico Chiesa among others.

In the past, Ventura was afraid to take risks, and typically stuck with Ciro Immobile and Andrea Belotti up front, despite their struggles. When both strikers were misfiring, Italy did not have a plan B, and failed to qualify for the World Cup for the first time in six decades. Rather than having set starters, like his predecessor, Mancini has mixed and matched at will, and has used a plethora of forwards across the front line. This keeps the Italian forwards on their toes, and ensures no one gets complacent. Moreover, if Italy are struggling in the final third, Mancini is able to turn to different solutions.

One player that has benefitted immensely from Mancini’s reign has been Napoli’s Lorenzo Insigne. The diminutive forward was reduced to a bit-part role under Ventura, and largely struggled to make an impact on the pitch when called upon. Under Mancini, Insigne has established himself as a crucial player, and has scored two goals in his last two games. In addition, his assist to Verratti against Bosnia helped Gli Azzurri seal all three points.

On the defensive end, on the other hand, Mancini has decided to maintain the status quo and has typically gone with Giorgio Chiellini and Leonardo Bonucci. However, the Italian tactician has tinkered with his fullbacks, alternating between Leonardo Spinazzola, Emerson and Gianluca Mancini. While Mancini is a centre-back, he offers the Azzurri tactical flexibility from the right-hand side of defence, and often drops as a third centre-back when in possession. With the Atalanta man dropping centrally, it allows the left-back to get forward and overload with his winger.

While it’s still early days for Gli Azzurri, the future looks bright under Roberto Mancini. Using a blend of experience, and youth, the Italian tactician has demonstrated character both in his selections, and tactical setups. With no one’s place in the team secured, Italy have – for the first time in a while – shown hunger, and a desire to return to the top.

Are you a Serie A expert? Can you defeat the top Serie A Fantasy Managers? If you think so, playwww.fantasyseriea.com now!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Serie A Injury and Suspension Report – Round 36

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Juventus: Paulo Dybala (calf), Rodrigo Bentancur (thigh), Emre Can (thigh) and Alex Sandro have resumed practicing fully and therefore should be available on Sunday, while Douglas Costa (calf) and Daniele Rugani (thigh) will not come back this week. Federico Bernardeschi is suspended. Moise Kean is out with the flu, Leonardo Bonucci with a bruised ankle.

Napoli: David Ospina is on personal leave to tend to a personal matter in Colombia. Nikola Maksimovic (toe) is slated to remain on the shelf, while Amadou Diawara (foot) got in a full practice after a long time, so he might be called up. Dries Mertens, Lorenzo Insigne and Adam Ounas have been surprisingly ruled out due to small ailments.
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Serie A Fantasy Picks – Round 34

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Salvatore Sirigu: he is having a brilliant season and Milan’s attack has sputtered quite a bit lately, failing to score more than once in five straight contests.

Aleksandar Kolarov: the Giallorossi will be down some offensive pieces on Saturday, so they might rely more than usual on the veteran left back, who has often popped up in the stat sheet. Cagliari also have the second-worst road offense in the League.

Gianluca Mancini: he is poised to have an even more significant role since Rafael Toloi went down with an ankle injury. Udinese have bagged just 12 goals in away games thus far and the Italian youngster has already done a lot of damage attacking on set pieces. Continue reading

Serie A Team of the Week – Round 20

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Serie A returned in full force with a gorgeous weekend of football. Here are the top performers.

Samir Handanovic (7 points): just five clean sheets in this round, by Inter, Sassuolo, Milan, Juventus and Atalanta. The veteran goalie had the best showing, denying two close range attempts by Kevin-Prince Boateng and Jeremie Boga to preserve the tie. Gianluca Donnarumma was not far behind.

Gianluca Mancini (9 points): he has already scored five goals thus far, which is more than most midfielders. He added a new wrinkle on Sunday, as he did not do damage on a set piece, but simply followed an offensive action by his side, then his teammates fed him with a solid cross. Continue reading

Serie A Club of the Round – Atalanta

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Atalanta scored five goals in the season opener against Frosinone and the result did not change few months later in Ciociaria, so they earn the coveted club of the week award. Gian Piero Gasperini replaced the injured Remo Freuler with Marten De Roon, chose the Berat Djimsiti and Gianluca Mancini over José-Luis Palomino and Andrea Masiello in the back and preferred Timothy Castagne to the dinged up Robin Gosens on the left flank.

It did not take long to the Goddess to establish their superiority, as Duvan Zapata had a big chance six minutes into the game, but Marco Sportiello and a defender cleared the ball before it could cross the goal-line. The start of the goal fest was simply delayed by few minutes: at the tenth one, Mario Pasalic connected with Mancini, who had decided to attack on that action, and the centre-back outjumped an opponent for his fifth goal of the season. Continue reading

Serie A Fantasy Recap – Round 20

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Standings implications: Napoli bested Lazio on Sunday night, as the Biancocelesti keep struggling against elite competition. However, Juventus answered versus Chievo, so the situation stays the same atop of the standings. Inter were unable to get the best of Sassuolo, actually the guests had more chances in that game. Roma allowed Torino to erase a 2-0 lead, but still came up victorious with another surge. Atalanta bodybagged Frosinone, while Fiorentina tied late versus Sampdoria. Milan overcame some absences to upend Genoa. Parma continue to pick up road wins and Udinese were their latest victim. SPAL and Bologna shared the spoils in the Emilian Derby, while Cagliari and SPAL did the same in two clashes relevant for the relegation race.

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