Serie A Fantasy Picks – Round Three

Salvatore Sirigu: Lecce have yet to score in this campaign and therefore Torino are in prime position to keep the clean sheet that has eluded them thus far, primarily due to the good level of the opponent they have faced thus far.

Francesco Acerbi: Lazio have conceded just one goal so far and SPAL are certainly not the most explosive side, so their defensive leader might be able to pick up some points during the weekend. Continue reading

Serie A Deadline Day Recap

A pretty eventful deadline day in Italy ended with the most anticipated news of the summer as Mauro Icardi finally left Inter to join PSG on loan with option. Roma finished off their summer with two more international additions: Nikola Kalinic and Henryk Mkhitaryan, while Milan brought in another striker in Ante Rebic, sending André Silva to Eintracht Frankfurt in return.

Napoli rounded up their attack by signing free agent Fernando Llorente, who is back in Italy after playing for two seasons at Juventus. The Spaniard has not been prolific with Tottenham, just two goals in Premier League in the last two seasons while he scored a bit more in the various cups, but they wanted a back-up for Arkadiusz Milik and he could be useful in late-game situations. Continue reading

Which Manchester United players should be offloaded once the season is over

<> on February 24, 2016 in Manchester, United Kingdom.

By now, the board and Ed Woodward will have analysed which players will be part of the club’s long-term plans, and which individuals they feel that don’t have a future at all at Manchester United. And although Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is only the interim coach at this moment of time, the hierarchy will surely be asking for his comments and vital opinions on who should be kept at the club at all costs.

On the other hand, some of the players who are used as a squad rotation will be given a few more chances to prove themselves before the current season is over. The Red Devils don’t have too much deadweight to carry like they used to a couple of years ago, however, there are some players that have been at the club for far too long or are simply not good enough for Premier League football.

Looking at the first team line-up as well as the squad depth as a whole, it can be easily stated that the club are in need of four to five new additions before they can mount a serious challenge in all competitions. And in order to achieve this, they will have intelligently sell a number of players during the summer transfer window, before they can go on to bringing anyone over to Old Trafford.

It’s time to look at the players that should be offloaded in the summer…

Antonio Valencia

Although a lot of the focus is on either Chris Smalling or Phil Jones as the main weakness within the backline, not much has been mentioned or stated about the right-back Antonio Valencia. Despite being a natural winger in his peak years in the Premier League, he has shown to be a player that can just about defend his area whilst his attacking and crossing ability has become non-existent over the last number of seasons.

With his contract coming to an end in the summer, it would be ideal for the club to let him go on a free transfer or give him a contract and then sell him off for a small amount of money. In the end, as long as he is far and far away from the club before the next footballing season, then shall Manchester United’s defence be able to move forward as a whole on both sides of the pitch. Without a doubt.

Juan Mata

Juan Mata has been in the Premier League for a really long time, and the only shame is that he spent most of his time in England as a right-winger rather than in his favourite position in the number ten role. The former Chelsea and Valencia player has never failed to come up with the assists and goals when it was much needed, though, he has been unable to produce the numbers on a regular basis.

As a whole, he simply does not have the pace or the physical ability to start as a winger, which dents United’s chances of producing successful counter-attacks. If the board and Ed Woodward are clever, they aggressively sell the attacking midfielder as he still has value and can become a superstar at a lower club, and it allows them to recover a fair amount they once spent on Juan Mata in 2014.

Marcos Rojo

It’s actually incredible to see that Marcos Rojo is still a Manchester United player, someone who is constantly on the sidelines with injury problems here and there whilst receiving a contract extension that he simply did not deserve. Believe it or not, the centre-back has made the same amount of appearances for Argentina at the 2018 World Cup and for Manchester United so far this season.

Unfortunately for the 28-year-old, he has failed to achieve the potential he once had when he joined the club and has time and time again, proved to be an ongoing liability in the back line whenever he starts. Given that he is out of his depth and is a player that would not be sorely missed once he leaves the club, United will then be able to bring in someone from the youth academy to develop.

Marouane Fellaini

Following the departure of Jose Mourinho and the short-term arrival of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, Marouane Fellaini has become one of the few players that does not fit the current coach’s style of play and has also been hit with a few unfortunate injury issues. Not only that, he has hardly been regarded as a player that represents Manchester United as a whole and what they proudly stand for.

For sure, he is not athletic, intelligent or proactive enough to be seen as a regular starter or even as an option from the bench, but he did come up with the vital goals for when the side needed him the most during the Louis Van Gaal and Jose Mourinho era. Now, that the club are returning onto the right path, the attributes and services that Marouane Fellaini provides is no longer required at Old Trafford.

Matteo Darmian

Since completing his monumental move from Serie A to the Premier League in the summer of 2015, Matteo Darmian has shown his impressive versatility to play as a left-back, right-back and centre-back when required. On the other hand, he has failed to adapt to the physicality of the Premier League as well as the wingers that are filled with pace and trickery, which has led to him falling behind the likes of Antonio Valencia, Ashley Young and now Diogo Dalot for the right-back position.

The Italian international has only completed five league appearances so far this season, seriously implying that he wasn’t in Jose Mourinho’s plans and he isn’t seen as a player to be utilised by Solskjaer himself. With Serie A clubs in Inter Milan, Juventus and Napoli reportedly being interested in the full-back, it would only make sense for the club and the player to part ways in the summer.

Serie A’s burning questions for last week of January window

Lazio v Napoli - Serie A - Stadio Olimpico del Nuoto

Will Napoli hold on to Allan?

Paris St Germain have been enthralled with the Brazilian midfielder ever since they faced him in the group stage of the Champions League. The French club also have a great relationship with Napoli dating back to their deals for Edinson Cavani and Ezequiel Lavezzi and after offering to more than double what Allan currently makes, the player is quite intrigued by the move.

Napoli are notorious for being tough negotiators and considering they have no debt or Financial Fair Play issue, they can hold firm in demanding a Godfather like offer to let Allan go in January. Napoli have to also feel good about their great track record with finding midfielders on the market, Fabian Ruiz has been one of the best newcomers to Serie A this season and has ensured the midfield unit didn’t skip a beat despite Jorginho’s departure and Marek Hamsik being a year older.

Napoli have targeted Cagliari’s Nicolo Barella, Villareal’s Pablo Forlans and Celta Vigo’s Stanislav Lobotka as players who could help offset Allan’s departure. Considering that the former Udinese box to box midfielder is now 28 this would be the ideal time to sell and a massive transfer fee could make it easier to keep Koulibaly in the summer.


Does Allegri trust Rugani enough to let Benatia leave?

Many assumed that Juventus policy of letting the player’s will reign supreme with transfer moves would end with Beppe Marotta’s departure. But despite the more aggressive stance on market that came with the Cristiano Ronaldo signing, it looks like the bianconeri will continue to be open to letting players who want to leave go.

The newest player to do is Mehdi Benatia, who has seen his role reduced after Leonardo Bonucci’s arrival. The Moroccan center back is pushing to join Qatari club Al Duhail who are offering him a rich contract. While Juventus tried to convince him to stay, they are now looking for veteran alternatives with old friend Martin Caceres as the favorite with Ivanovic and Skrtel as alternatives.

The fact that sporting director Paratici is looking for a veteran could be seen as a lack of faith in Daniele Rugani who has never started in a significant Champions League and tends to play against the lower table teams. The former Empoli defender has long been seen as a potential long term to Chiellini, but he wasn’t able to capitalize on the opportunities given to him during the season Bonucci spent at Milan.


 Will Milan be able to further bolster Gattuso’s squad? 

Despite their strict Financial Fair Play parameters, the rossoneri have been able to add two expensive new additions in Paqueta and Piatek, whom they were able to pay in one installment. The rossoneri had the wiggle room to do so because of the significant savings on Higuain’s wages and the fact that Chelsea is paying half of the 18 million loan fee they owed Juventus for the Argentine striker.

While the moves they’ve made are already impressive, can Leonardo pull a rabbit out of his hat during the days of the Condor as they were called when his mentor Galliani used to run Milan’s mercato? The rossoneri are doing all they can to bring Yannick Carrasco back to Europe, but they can only acquire him on loan with option to buy and with the Belgian international taking a pay cut on his current wages.


Which wing back will return to Serie A?


They don’t call Italy “Il bel paese” (the beautiful country) for no reason. While players often leave Serie A to chase bigger pay checks, they are more than happy to return. This January we have seen Muriel, Gabbiadini, Sansone and Kucka come back and there’s a chance at least one between Matteo Darmian and Davide Zappacosta follows their path.

Lazio have been linked to Zappacosta for some time, but they are faced with some tough demands from Chelsea who are determined to include a forced option to buy in a potential loan deal. While Lazio maybe a bit more motivated to get a deal done now that Jordan Lukaku is heading to Newcastle, they will likely rely on Zappacosta’s agent Alessandro Lucci to work as a mediator with Chelsea to get better terms.

Darmian on the other hand has been a transfer target for Juventus dating back to his time at Torino, and now that Inter have closed the deal for Cedric Soares they are the only feasible Italian destination for him. So far Manchester United have been asking for a loan with financial considerations with a hefty option to buy to let Darmian, but now that there’s less of a market for him, they may just lower their demands.


Who is Manchester United’s target Matteo Darmian?

Manchester United are reportedly close to signing Torino defender Matteo Darmian this summer for around £13M, with manager Louis van Gaal planning to make him his first-choice right-back for the new campaign. The 25-year-old isn’t too well known outside of Italy, but he has been making waves for his side in the last couple of seasons.

Darmian has shone in the Europa League over the past 12 months for the Italians, and he represented his country in the 2014 World Cup and a host of following friendlies. He’s highly-rated in the Serie A, let alone with his side Torino, with president Urban Cairo having said of the speculation: “Offers have arrived. Darmian is an extraordinary player who will want to try and win the Champions League one day.”

His career started at AC Milan, but he failed to make a name for himself with the Rossoneri. Darmian was a late bloomer in regard to hid development, with spells at Palermo and Padova (loan) not seeing him showcase his true potential. It wasn’t until his 2011 move to Torino that the 25-year-old came into his own, and he hasn’t looked back since.

Last season, the Italian right-back made 33 Serie A appearances for Torino, scoring and creating three goals, while averaging a tackle or interception every 21 minutes. Darmian created 39 chances and made 27 successful dribbles too. He’s been identified as Van Gaal as the perfect candidate to replace Rafael da Silva and Antonio Valencia at right-back for the long-term, but is attracting interest from others.

A versatile player, Darmian can play in any position across the back-four, and has operated in every position in midfield too, so he’s a useful utility star if needs be. And are £13M, he’s not breaking the bank for Manchester United. He’s not the big-name supporters were expecting when the likes of Daniel Alves (Barcelona) and Nathaniel Clyne (Southampton) were linked with the Red Devils, but he is a talented defender who will ensure he nullifies the threat of the opposition.

Described as a optionally-aware full back with excessive pace, it’s clear the Manchester United boss wants his defence shored up for the new season, and Darmian could be the man to help. He provides an outlet on the right-hand side when attacking, but can also stop his man in one-on-one situations – something Valencia failed to do last season as he wasn’t a natural fullback. And with Rafael courting interest, his sale could go towards funding this potential transfer.