Serie A must continue purchase of World Class players to enhance image

Seven years ago, one French Club, Paris Saint Germain invaded Serie A and plundered the league’s top stars from its top teams. Jérémy Ménez, Javier Pastore, Thiago Motta, Ezequiel Lavezzi, Marco Verratti, Thiago Sliva and Zlatan Ibrahimovic. Later, Marquinhos and Edison Cavani joined the fray. PSG’s incursion was propelled by current owners, Qatar Sports Investments, spearheaded by Nasser Al-Khelaifi.

It wasn’t just the ability of the oil rich investors to price away the best talents from other clubs as was the case with Neymar last season, but it exposed how vulnerable and financially weak clubs in Italy were at that particular period. Let’s look at it from this perspective, the strength of a league is predicated on the strength of its clubs. Thus, Serie A became weak in the eyes of its opposing leagues.

It’s worth to note that, during those trial moments, Juventus were putting in place the right structures, both administratively and infrastructure (The Allianz Stadium). They managed to sign the likes of Carlos Tevez from Manchester City, Arturo Vidal from Bayer Leverkusen, got Andrea Pirlo on a Bossman and a world class potential in Paul Pobga. The results are six scudetti on the bounce and two Champions League finals in the last five years. They continue to attract some of the best talents in Douglas Costa, Blaise Matuidi and Emre Can.

This season,the backdrop to Juventus campaign is the arrival of Cristiano Ronaldo. Portuguese Captain is a symbol of perseverance, whiles his great achievements and showy personality drags the media to his orbit. A report this year from D’Marie Analytics, a social media research firm estimates that a post by Ronaldo across Instagram, Facebook and Twitter is worth a cumulative $728,973.35, making him both the most valuable soccer player and athlete overall.

And of course, commercially, there are all sorts of financial spin offs when you sign Cristiano Ronaldo, from merchandise to image rights.

According to Gazzetta dello Sport, Ronaldo’s debut match against Chievo attracted 2,330,234 unique viewers, with an audience share of 11.9 percent. That’s a 68 percent increase in viewers on Juve’s first match of last season, when they faced Cagliari at home. It is also the fourth-highest total since the Italian branch of Sky launched, surpassed only by the Derby d’Italia in 2013 and 2016, and Roma-Juventus in August 2015. Another Broadcast giant ESPN signed a multi-year deal to broadcast Serie A in the United States It’s difficult to quantify how much of this attention is contributed by the competitiveness of the league after Napoli gave Juventus a hard fought for the scudetto last season.

Cristiano Ronaldo’s entrance has brought the sheen that Serie A needs.

It is however important for the other top teams Inter Milan, Napoli, AC Milan and AS Roma to leverage on the current attraction to lure elite players to their abode.

The two San Siro outfits, AC Milan and Inter are beginning to recover their financial muscle after the change of ownerships from Italian families to foreign Investors, as well as Roma. Things are beginning to look up for AC Milan under the current owners Elliot Hudge Fund Management who have brought back Leonardo in the position of Sporting director, alongside Paolo Maldini as sporting strategy and development director.

AC Milan’s transfer activities have not triggered the kind of excitement that greeted the appointment of their former heroes. Paolo Maldini’s name seems to have overshadowed their purchases in the summer and rightly so because names likes, Tiémoué Bakayoko, Alen Halilovic, Samu Castillejo and Diego Laxalt do not generate euphoria. But the Rossoneri take consolation in the signature of Gonzalo Higuain and Mattia Caldara.

Inter Milan managed to sign Radja Nainggolan from AS Roma and Kwadwo Asamoah from Inter whiles keeping Ivan Peresic and their priciest asset, Captain Maruo Icardi. The reports about Luka Modric wanting to join the Nerazzurri drew a lot of enthusiasm around the club and showed further proof of the kind of players that Serie A are missing. Though the player decided otherwise, it was a sign of ambition on the part of the Nerazzurri.

Despite the acquisition of Javier Pastori and Steven Nzonzi by AS Roma this summer, the Giallorossi have lost world class goalkeeper Alison Becker to Liverpool and Kevin Strootman to Marseille. Whiles Mauricio Sarri and Jorginho have joined Chelsea from Napoli. Last year, three players from Serie A mounted the FIFPro World XI podium. Two of them, Dani Alves and Gialuigi Buffon are currently PSG players. Cristiano Ronaldo may be on the podium in the next FIFA Mens Best Player Award Event but it will be based on his performance at Real Madrid.

Serie A need a continue purchase of world class players to continue enjoying the attention it’s currently attracting.

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AS Roma’s End of Season Grades

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Roma’s season will draw to a close after tomorrow’s clash in Modena against Sassuolo. The Giallorossi have already sealed their place in next season’s Champions League and the only thing left to decide is if they will finish in the third or fourth position. As the curtains come down on their campaign, Roma can certainly be proud of what they’ve accomplished Continue reading

Serie A Player Status Updates – Round 36

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Injuries pile up at the end of the season and unfortunately some top players got caught.

Juventus: Miralem Pjanic is suspended, while Mario Mandzukic will be held out due to a cut on the ankle. Giorgio Chiellini, Stefano Sturaro and Mattia De Sciglio are out with their previous injuries. Benedikt Howedes suffered yet another muscular ailment. 

Napoli: Kalidou Koulibaly is disqualified and Faouzi Ghoulam continues to rehab his fractured patella.  Continue reading

Serie A Player Status Updates – Round 35

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Here are the updates on few players’ conditions ahead of the upcoming round.

Juventus: Giorgio Chiellini suffered a hamstring (biceps femoris) strain just above the knee and will miss at least three weeks, with the risk of not returning this season. Mattia De Sciglio is out with a plantar fascia injury, Stefano Sturaro with a sore Achilles.

Napoli: no absentees other than the usual one Faouzi Ghoulam.

Roma: Diego Perotti and Kevin Strootman have already been ruled out due to an ankle sprain and a rib contusion. El Monito’s ailment is more severe since there is some ligament damage. Gregoire Defrel and Rick Karsdorp remain out following knee surgeries.  Continue reading

Napoli 2-4 Roma: what we learned

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De Rossi, Strootman still have “it”
Roma’s midfield has struggled at times this season. Kevin Strootman, Radja Nainggolan, and Daniele De Rossi, the preferred trio of manager Eusebio Di Francesco, have often found themselves overrun and overmatched in the center of the pitch, particularly against sides who press and play the ball quickly.

It was no surprise that Napoli were the heavy favorites before the clash against Roma, but what was a surprise as the match commenced were the performances of the Dutchman, Italian captain, and Belgian. Strootman and De Rossi almost entirely took Napoli’s Jorginho and Alan out of the match while Nainggolan, who was very poor last weekend against Milan, gave Napoli fits. De Rossi was calm in possession and strong in defence, Strootman was sensational in recovering the ball, while Nainggolan, as per his trademark, was all over the pitch. Continue reading

Serie A Fantasy Game Predictions – Round 27

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A triple main-event in the upcoming Serie A round: Juventus take on Lazio on the road, Napoli host Roma and Inter and Milan square off in the Derby della Madonnina.

Lazio-Juventus: the Biancocelesti have won two games in a row, as they always do with the minnows, against Verona and Sassuolo. Ciro Immobile continues to punish opponents and Sergej Milinkovic-Savic is in stellar form recently. The last Serie A game of the Bianconeri was postponed, then they got the job done in Coppa Italia against the same opponent, Atalanta. With Gonzalo Higuain and Federico Bernardeschi sidelined and Paulo Dybala working his way back from injury, Douglas Costa has been the one to step up upfront and Mario Mandzukic will play a big role as well. The Old Lady has had a ton of success in Rome in recent years. Their defence is stifling, but they will go against the best scoring attack in the League.

Continue reading

Juventus late change of mind about the midfield cost them some opportunities early in the summer

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Massimiliano Allegri switched to 4-2-3-1 after few years using a three-man midfield and, besides looking for more wingers to strengthen a shorthanded attack, the management spent the early part of the transfer market window trying to acquire a big, physical central midfielder who could be Miralem Pjanic’s ideal partner in front of the defence. For this reason, they chased Nemanja Matic, Steven N’Zonzi and Emre Can, but no deal materialized because the targets were too expensive for their liking or their clubs simply did not want to sell them.

However, after a poor defensive performance against Lazio in the Supercoppa Italiana at the start of August, the idea of moving back to a three-man midfield started to gain traction. They later signed Blaise Matuidi, a more dynamic player who has experience in both systems, but who is more comfortable as a box-to-box midfielder, rather than as a holding one.

Had they changed their mind earlier, they could have had landed a younger player on a more favourable deal: despite having only a year left on his contract, the Frenchman was signed for €20M, with €10M add-ons. For a similar sum, they could have had Franck Kessie, who moved to Milan on a two-year loan with obligation to buy worth a total of €28M from Atalanta, a club Juventus have made a lot of business with in recent years. The Ivorian did not take much time to establish himself as Rossoneri’s best all-around midfielder and he has had a tremendous impact on the first few games of the season.

Furthermore, Juventus had been pursuing Corentin Tolisso at least since February, as confirmed by Olympique Lyonnais president Jean-Michel Aulas. In mid-June, the CEO Giuseppe Marotta stated that they had the deal in place, but after the change of formation, his skills were no longer requested and so they did not pull the trigger. Tolisso joined Bayern Munich for €41.5M and the Old Lady ended up acquiring a fairly similar player.

If they wanted a more experienced option, they could have picked Kevin Strootman: the Dutch had a €45M buy-out clause in his freshly extended contract, but it was valid only in July. Juventus made an attempt for him in late August, but predictably hit a brick wall when they contacted Roma. It would have been a pricey acquisition, but Strootman would have fitted both tactics and the Turin side has never been gun shy about spending for players they believe in.

 

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