Keita Balde set for Serie A exit


With Inter Milan now on the lookout for a new manager following Luciano Spalletti’s exit, the Serie A side could also be in line to lose players before their new manager even arrives.

Former Italy and Chelsea boss Antonio Conte is widely tipped to be the man coming in to replace Spalletti, and the fiery former midfielder could wield the axe in pre-season.

With talisman Mauro Icardi committing himself to the club prior to Spalletti’s departure, the incoming boss is unlikely to make Keita Balde’s loan move permanent.

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Spalletti in defiant mood ahead of Derby Milano


Luciano Spalletti held his traditional pre-match press conference ahead of tonight’s Derby della Madonnina between AC Milan and Inter. Here is what the Nerazzurri coach said to the journalists who gathered at the Suning Training Centre yesterday afternoon: Continue reading

Grading Serie A’s Recent Deals



Diego Laxalt to Milan (Lapadula’s redemption of 11 million, plus 7 million including bonuses) Grade: B+

This deal had shades of Galliani written all over- Milan acquires a player from Genoa in the last week of the window, and centers it around Lapadula, a player previously involved in a transaction between the two club. While Leonardo somewhat imitated one of his mentors, Milan acquired a significant player from Genoa unlike Galliani’s last acquisitions from Preziosi’s club (Bertolacci and Antonelli).

After his strong performances in the recent World Cup, it’s rather odd to that a bigger market didn’t develop around Laxalt- especially when you consider how hard it is to find a quality left wing back. Laxalt will give Gattuso tactical flexibility- it’s not out of the question he can start at left back in a 4 man defense, as a left wing back in a 3 man back line with Ricardo Rodriguez as the third center back alongside Romagnoli and Caldara, or even as an offensive left winger.

If you’re a Milan fan and all of the above doesn’t excite you, then remember you can even get to torment Inter fans about this move since the nerazzurri previously owned him before shipping him off to Genoa in a deal for Ansaldi.


Tiemoue Bakayoko to Milan (loan with option to buy for a total of 40 million) Grade B-

There’s no doubt that last season Milan missed Juraj Kucka’s tenacity. Aside from Frank Kessie, who slowed down by the end of the season after appearing in many back to back matches, the rossoneri lacked a quality defensive midfielder who could bring muscle and grinta- it’s probably not setting the bar too high to expect Bakayoko to contribute as least as much as Kucka did during his two seasons at San Siro.

While Bakayoko is coming off a disastrous first season in the Premier League, he’s by no means the first player to struggle at Chelsea only to later blossom elsewhere. While it’s unreasonable for Bakayoko to turn into the next Salah or De Bruyne, it’s not out of the question he follows Cuadrado’s path- the Colombian international left Stamford Bridge after failing to establish himself and became a very valuable member of Allegri’s rotations at Juventus. Considering that Bakayoko was part of the Champions League team of the season back in 2017, Milan is taking a very low risk/high reward type of gamble.




Keita Balde to Inter (5 million for loan, 34 million option to buy) Grade B+

Luciano Spalletti has been obsessed with the former Barcelona youth team product since he scored two goals for Lazio in the derby that took place on April 30th 2017. While Inter failed to sign him last summer when he joined Monaco, they got their man a year later.

Keita will give Spalletti another high quality option up front- he can play as a second striker or as a winger, which will allow Inter to rotate him Perisic and Politano and ensure Lautaro Martinez isn’t rushed into adapting to Serie A too quickly. Despite only being 23, Keita has already appeared in over 100 Serie A matches and has the potential to become one of the best forwards in the league.


Steven N’Zonzi to Roma (30 million including bonuses) Grade A-

For the second time in his career, Monchi has acquired the French international and you can make a great case Barcelona did him a favor by hijacking the Malcom deal. While landing the Bordeaux winger would have given Di Francesco another exciting upfront, there was a much bigger need for a quality defensive midfielder when you consider De Rossi’s age and Gonalons struggles last season.

N’Zonzi will bring muscle and height to Roma’s midfield- two qualities sorely lacking last season. While some have questioned the idea of investing substantially in a player who will turn 30 in December of this year, it’s important to note Roma have acquired numerous young players in Coric, Cristante, Zaniolo and Kluivert who all have the potential to grow in value substantially in the coming years.

In the short term N’Zonzi should help Roma stay in the top four in the standings, the club needs the Champions League revenues to continue their forward trajectory. By the time N’Zonzi starts to decline, Roma should be able to count on at least one of their younger players developing into his replacement.

Salah extension shows Liverpool mean business

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Liverpool have already returned for pre-season training, and there was some good news to come out of Melwood on the first day back.

Far and away their player of last season, Mo Salah announced that he’d penned a new long-term deal, bringing to an end rumours which had linked him with Real Madrid, Barcelona and others.

There was a time, not so long ago, when Liverpool were still something of a laughing stock. Not anymore. Continue reading

Lazio in big offensive troubles


Filippo Inzaghi had to scramble to come up with some offensive solutions in the first few games of the season, because of the lengthy Keita drama, solved with a late sale to Monaco, and Felipe Anderson’s injury. It is supposed to be a great year for Brazilian, who was set up to be Lazio’s main offensive playmaker, after taking a back seat to Ciro Immobile and Keita last season. Anderson played a lot as right wingback in 3-5-2 in 2016/2017, leaving the coveted spot as second-striker to the Senegalese. He will be heavily featured in the attack in the coming months, but he has been absent since the start of August because of a tricky hamstring tendinopathy, which could sideline him for one more month.

Lazio signed Luis Nani to replace Keita: a natural winger, who could struggle to perform in a more central position in which he has limited experience. The Portuguese international comes off two good season at Fenerbahce and Valencia, but he has lost a step over the years. It is fair to ask whether the club has done enough to replace Keita, who had a €30,5M price tag, who blossomed as a striker last year, tallying 16 goals in 31 appearances, outmatching his scoring total from his previous three seasons.

Nani missed the whole summer because of a knee sprain: he is rumoured to return to action soon, but it might take him a while to be in full form considering that he skipped the crucial pre-season preparation. Peak Nani and Felipe Anderson might end up being available at around the same date, in mid-October, but there is an intense cycle of games in between. Lazio thrived with 3-5-2 last season thanks to a strengthened defence, a dynamic midfield, Keita’s explosiveness upfront and Immobile’s nose for scoring. However, they may have to revert to 4-3-3 down the line, because they might need to field Nani and Anderson at the same time to match Keita’s production and this could affect some of the well-oiled mechanisms and balances.

While the two players recover, Inzaghi will have to be creative. In the first game against Spal, he fielded Simone Palombi, who had a good run with Ternana in Serie B last season in his first experience with the pros, but is little too similar to Immobile. The same goes for the newcomer Felipe Caicedo, who is a pure center-forward.

In the Supercoppa and against Chievo Verona, they opted for a 3-4-2-1, with Luis Alberto and Sergej Milinkinovic-Savic behind the lone striker. They had more success with it, as the young Spaniard is starting to make an impact and the Serbian midfielder is ascending to stardom, but the lack of pace and unpredictability of this formation is glaring. The coach has not much else to work with and has to hope that the line-up with two no.10s or the two-headed attack work even though neither is perfect, otherwise they will be in for a very rough start of the season.

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