Serie A Wishlist: One Player Each For Calcio’s Top Four

With the mercato closing in just under two week’s time, many of Italy’s top sides are scrambling to complete their sides. Inter have been linked with every striker remotely available, Roma desperately need a defender while Napoli are looking at a number of James Rodriguez alternatives. But who exactly should these sides be targeting before the window shuts? Let’s have a look starting with the Italian champions, Juventus.

1) Juventus

Juventus started the transfer window in swash-buckling fashion securing the likes of Aaron Ramsey, Adrien Rabiot and Matthijs de Ligt, but have recently taken a back seat focusing on player sales. While their roster is arguably the strongest in Italy, there’s no denying it still has a few holes. For one, Danilo has to come good or they’re without a top class right back. On the other hand, the bianconeri could really use another midfielder. That being said, both positions are extremely unlikely and Juventus seem intent on going into the season with what they have.

Otherwise, if Juve are able to sell Gonzalo Higuain and Mario Mandzukic, and those remain big ifs, they should go all out for Inter’s Mauro Icardi. After all, they could use fresh legs in the final third and have recently sold Moise Kean. You just feel if the Italian champions don’t sign Icardi, they’d have sacrificed Kean for nothing. A player like Icardi, while he comes with personal baggage, is extremely hard to find. As a result, Fabio Paratici should do all he could to be in a position to sign the Inter man come the end of August.

2) Napoli

At the time of writing this, Napoli have reportedly signed PSV’s Hirving Lozano. The Mexican is a versatile forward capable of playing anywhere across the front-line but will likely feature on the wing. Despite his signing, the partenopei are still lacking something in the final third. All too often last season, they dropped points as a result of their own profligacy in front of goal, costing them on their ultimate Scudetto objective.

While Icardi would arguably do wonders under Carlo Ancelotti, the player Napoli should be looking at is James Rodriguez. The Colombian remains on Real Madrid’s chopping block and would add some much needed creativity in the final third. With Insigne and Lozano on either wing and Rodriguez in the hole, Napoli’s front-line would be truly devastating.

3) Roma 

Where to begin with Roma? The giallorossi could arguably use another winger and right back but for the time being will have to settle for a new central defender. Right now, Roma’s centre-backs consist of Juan Jesus, Federico Fazio, Gianluca Mancini and the newly-acquired Mert Cetin.

Out of them, Mancini is of starting quality, but none of the other three names inspire confidence as regular starters. While Cetin is reportedly a top talent, it would almost be too much to ask of the 22-year-old. As a result, Roma would be wise to secure another centre-half. Recently, it’s been reported they’ve been in the market for Daniele Rugani or Liverpool’s Dejan Lovren.

Either would frankly add some much-needed depth at the heart of defence, but what Roma need is a long-term solution. Someone like Tottenham’s Toby Alderweireld would be ideal. Before the end of July, he was available for just under 30 million euros, yet the giallorossi refused to meet the Belgian’s release clause. A decision that might come back to haunt them.

4) Inter

The truth is Inter, much like Roma, could use a few players: a left-back to challenge Asamoah, a right back in case Valentino Lazaro flops and another striker for depth. While they could use all three and will likely make a push for three more players, their most pressing need remains a vice-Lukaku. Currently, Inter only possess Lautaro Martinez that they can rely on besides the Belgian.

As Conte typically deploys two strikers and Inter will be competing in three competitions, adding another striker is vastly important. Recently, they’ve been linked with Napoli’s Arkadiusz Milik, Manchester United’s Alexis Sanchez and Fernando Llorente among others.

Of the three names Inter would be wise to sign the Chilean. Despite his struggles since moving to Old Trafford, moving to Inter could revitalize his career. Under Conte, Sanchez will have new-found motivation and will find a familiar partner in Romelu Lukaku.

Bonus: 

Milan: Angel Correa

Lazio: Bas Dost

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The impact of player wages on transfer market

Thirteen months ago, they both played in the World Cup final and they were expected to carry the positive momentum into the season at their respective clubs. But now both Inter and Roma were so desperate to shed their salaries that they were willing to let them go on a loan deal. I’m talking about Ivan Perisic who earlier this week officially joined Bayern Munich and Steven NZonzi who is on the verge of joining Galatasaray.

But they aren’t the only players who appeared in that match who could join new teams on loan or for a very low transfer fee- in fact Juventus is looking to offload both Blaise Matuidi and Mario Mandzukic as long as someone else is willing to pay their wages (Marko Pjaca is also technically on the market but not because of his wages). We all too often focus on the transfer fee when we look at deals this time of year, but the annual wages that the players agree to, often plays just as significant a role for the buying club’s bottom line down the road.

Once a player’s performances don’t match their salaries, it becomes very hard to move them- especially if they are at a top club where the pay scale is often much higher than the club they are trying to sell to. What often happens with these players is that if you wait a year too long to sell, the difference in the return can be substantial- just think of how much more Perisic was worth on the market the past two years compared to now. 

Inter were determined to rid the team of all distractions with Antonio Conte at the helm. Nainggolan and Icardi were publicly called out by Beppe Marotta and the writing was on the wall for Perisic after his new manager had stated he didn’t view him as a winger in his formation and the club signed Romelu Lukaku. So far Nainggolan and Perisic have been sent out on loan to not only remove distractions in the locker room but especially to remove the enormous cost of their wages before taxes.

Nzonzi is just the latest member of Monchi’s disastrous army of acquisitions at Roma who are on the market. Karsdorp returned to Feyenoord, on you guessed it a loan deal and Marcano returned to Porto. But for Nzonzi his substantial salary is the driver, in fact the giallorossi are so desperate to get him off their books that they are willing to give Galatasaray the option to extend the loan deal into a second deal just to ensure he doesn’t come back to Trigoria.

While we can expect some mistakes at clubs like Roma and Inter, for many years we have heard of how great Juventus is at planning on the transfer market. There’s no doubt the bianconeri have been one chess move ahead of their competitors on numerous occasions in recent years, but recently they have focused more on short term gains and rewarding loyal soldiers.

Mandzukic and Khedira received extensions during the last fiscal year which was as good a plan as the one the stoners who are getting ready to raid Area 51 baked up, while Matuidi now finds himself on the outside looking because of Ramsey and Rabiot’s arrivals as well as Bentancur’s developments. But finding clubs willing to pay the amortized value remaining on these players on top of their lofty wages is nearly impossible.

So next time you read a transfer report or the news of a big name player extending his contract with his current club, pay particular attention to the amount of the wages- that will likely have a more significant long term effect on your favorite team than you realize.

Inter send Perisic to Bayern

After four years, Ivan Perisic’s time at Inter is over as the club accepted Bayern Munich’s offer: the winger will move on a €5M season-long loan with a €25M option to buy. All things considered, the 30-year-old Croatian international put up solid numbers with the Nerazzurri, logging 40 goals and 37 assists in 163 appearances, but he also cyclically went through lengthy scoring droughts and lackadaisical displays.

Perisic’s faith was quickly sealed this summer once new coach Antonio Conte realized that the he could not be used in the role he first envisioned for him, at left wing-back, but only as second-striker, but he would have been behind Lautaro Martinez and probably Matteo Politano too in such role, so he became expendable. Continue reading

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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