Bargain Hunting: Three Relegation Bound Players

With the Serie A season coming to a close, many of the league’s relegation-bound sides will be putting their best players on the market. Needing to trim their wage bill, some players will be available cheaply, opening the room for bargains. Every year there’s a few players that stick out from the rest, and frankly deserve better than a season in Italy’s second division. Here are three players who might be worth a look into for Italy’s mid-table sides.

Chievo – Mariusz Stepinski (Striker)

In his second season in Italian football, Stepinski has grown immensely as a forward, and has done his best to lead Chievo’s misfiring front-line. While goals proved hard to come by in Verona this season, the Polish forward found the back of the net six times, two of which came in the early goings of the year against Juventus and Roma.

At just 24 years old, Stepinski deserves another shot at top flight football, albeit with a more progressive side. Simply put, any side in the bottom half of the table could make do with his services.

Midfielder Sofian Kiyine could also be of interest to sides looking to bolster their midfield with youth, and has demonstrated he’s more than capable of holding his own.

Empoli – Ismael Bennacer (Center Midfield) 

The Empoli midfielder has been in sensational form this season, and has done exceptionally well at the heart of the Tuscan’s midfield. Bennacer has proven equally capable of shielding the back four, as he is spreading the ball as evidenced through his five assists, and is undoubtedly ready for a bigger club. With many of Serie A’s sides missing a link between attack and defence, the Algerian could prove to be an under-the-radar, low-cost option.

However, English giants Arsenal reportedly have a lowly 6 million euros buy-back clause in the 21-year-old’s contract, and are worth monitoring themselves. With Empoli’s Serie A status in doubt, expect Bennacer to be on the move come summertime.

Teammate Francesco Caputo, and his 15 goals, are also worth mentioning, but his age may prove to be a deterrent for most sides. In any case, the striker could prove to be an interesting option for the newly-promoted sides.

Frosinone – Camillo Ciano (Attacking Midfielder)

With Frosinone going down to Serie B, many of their players will be available rather cheaply. While loanees Francesco Cassata, and Andrea Pinamonti are of great interest, they will return to their parent clubs Sassuolo and Inter respectively. If either is available again, they should definitely be made priorities. However, Serie A’s mid-table to lower tier sides would be wise to focus their attention on attacking midfielder Camillo Ciano. 

The 29-year-old has proven effective in a front two, and is versatile enough to play behind the striker as well. His seven goals and four assists illustrate he’s worthy of Italy’s top flight, and will undoubtedly be on the radar of the newly-promoted outfits looking for goals, and creativity in the final third. As he is nearing 30 years old, Ciano could prove to be a bargain.

Sportiello is worthy of consideration, as well, but is coming off one of his poorer seasons since establishing himself as a number one within Italy.

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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 Club of the Round – Frosinone

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Few worthy candidates in this round, but Frosinone were the only one to dispose of their opponents on the road, therefore earning the shout-out. The Ciociari had won just one game thus far and were overwhelmed by Atalanta just last week, drawing harsh criticism from Napoli president Aurelio De Laurentiis who said that they did not belong in Serie A. They answered on the pitch with a dominating display against Bologna and they are now * points behind the 17th placed

Regular starters Lorenzo Ariaudo and Francesco Zampano are sidelined with injuries, while Joel Campbell left during the weekend a little out of the blue, so Marco Baroni chose Bartosz Salamon in the back, Paolo Ghiglione on the left flank and Camillo Ciano and Andrea Pinamonti up front. Differently from last week, Francesco Cassata was selected over Luca Valzania in the midfield. Continue reading

Serie A Club of the Round – Inter

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Two of the top three teams got the job done in favorable match-ups: Inter bagged one more goal than Juventus, so the get the nod as club of the week. The Nerazzurri came into the game looking to atone for the brutal showing in Bergamo, where they conceded four goals.

As the seminal Champions League bout with Tottenham is coming up on Wednesday, Luciano Spalletti rotated his squad a lot, trusting Balde Keita and Lautaro Martinez up front and Borja Valero and Roberto Gagliardini in the midfield. Danilo D’Ambrosio filled in for the injured Sime Vrsaljko, while Radja Nainggolan was able to return to the XI after an ankle sprain. Continue reading

Serie A Match of the Round – Frosinone vs Empoli

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The Derby della Madonnina was balanced, hard-fought and intense, but, albeit in dramatic fashion, it was decided by a single goal in the stoppage time. So the weekly shout-out goes to high-scoring affair between Frosinone and Empoli, which had a lot at stake for an early season game and was brilliantly played by both sides.

The Ciociari have yet to win this season and garnered only a point so far, against Bologna at home. The Azzurri prevailed just in the season opener and suffered five losses after that, managing to tie twice. Continue reading

Serie A Match of the Round – Torino vs Frosinone

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The last round had a pair of really intriguing and well-balanced match-ups, Lazio-Fiorentina and Atalanta-Sampdoria, but those were decided by a single goal. The most entertaining game was surprisingly the Friday one between Torino and Frosinone.

The Granata were coming off a late win against Chievo, while Frosinone picked up just one point so far. Walter Mazzarri gave Simone Zaza the start after the deciding goal in the previous contest, picking Daniele Baselli over Roberto Soriano as attacking midfielder and Ola Aina and Alex Berenguer as wing backs since Lorenzo De Silvestri was out. Moreno Longo, former coach of Torino’s youth team, stuck with a 3-4-3 featuring Joel Campbell, Daniele Ciofani and Camillo Ciano up front. Continue reading

Serie A Club of the Round: Atalanta

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In a round where the top clubs mostly had troubles toppling their respective opponents, the most impressive team was surely Atalanta, which manhandled Frosinone on Monday night. The Orobici and Empoli were the only two sides to score multiple goals while keeping a clean sheet.

Gian Piero Gasperini will not have Josip Ilicic for a while, so he opted for the lineup he has been fielding in Europa League with limited rotation. Berat Djimsiti played over both Gianluca Mancini and José-Luis Palomino in the defence and Musa Barrow won the duel with Duvan Zapata up front, with Mario Pasalic in the hole. Continue reading

Serie A Weekly News Recap

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The transfer market formally opened this week and so a flurry of moves were made official. Gianluigi Buffon joined PSG; Inter signed Stefan De Vrij and Kwadwo Asamoah on free transfers and acquired Lautaro Martinez from Racing; Milan brought in Pepe Reina, Ivan Strinic and Alen Halilovic without paying anything.

Napoli announced the arrivals of Alex Meret and Orestis Karnezis from Udinese and Fabian Ruiz from Real Betis, for whom they paid around €30M. Sampdoria have bought Jakub Jankto from Udinese, who totalled nine goals and 12 assists over the last two seasons with the Zebrette. Continue reading

Who will leave Fiorentina this summer?

After last season’s rebuilding of the squad, Fiorentina will look to next season in order to implement the next stage as those in charge hope to see this young side progress towards the European places. While sporting director Pantaleo Corvino is expected to oversee some changes this summer, this side’s over-achievement this term will likely generate interest from Serie A and abroad in their young stars. Who will stay and who will go?

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Fiorentina’s Failure a Blessing in Disguise?

After last Sunday’s 1-0 defeat at home to Cagliari, Fiorentina’s players can be forgiven for feeling disappointed that there will now be little point to their final match of the season away to Milan, the Viola all-but eliminated from the race to finish in the Europa League spots.

Even If Fiorentina were to win at San Siro, they would have to hope Atalanta lose away to Cagliari on Sunday, and would also need to make up a -7 goal difference on La Dea – bearing in mind their head-to-head record will be discounted after two 1-1 draws earlier in the campaign – a target that will surely prove to be impossible to reach.

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