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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Top three AC Milan picks for Fantasy Serie A

As the start of Serie A is only one week away (roughly), it is time to take a look at a few choices that you should make for your fantasy team. This article will focus on three AC Milan players that you must have in your team, as they are guaranteed point-machines (one can hope). 

First of all, there are several players in the current Rossoneri squad that I believe could be useful in a fantasy team. However, as we all know, the rules only allow you to pick three players from each club. Therefore, without further ado, down below are my top three picks.  Continue reading

Feronikeli 0-2 AC Milan: Comfortable win as Giampaolo tests several players

AC Milan won their second to last game of the pre-season, taking on Feronikeli away from home in front of an enthusiastic crowd. After a slow start, the Rossoneri eventually scored twice through Borini and Suso, both of which have impressed thus far. 

Given the opponent, many expected the Rossoneri to score more goals. However, as Feronikeli decided to sit back and defend for almost the entire game, Milan initially struggled to break down their defensive line. Luckily, Suso broke the deadlock with a stunning free-kick, but it wasn’t until the second half that the possession looked more dangerous.

Before the final 45 minutes, Giampaolo decided to change more or less the entire eleven, bringing on A. Donnarumma, Conti, Musacchio, Strinic, Borini, Paqueta, Bonaventura, Piatek and Leao. As it happened, this decision paid off as the San Siro side immediately looked more threatening. Perhaps the home side got tired, but nevertheless, the second-half players impressed.

Thanks to brilliant work from the new signing Rafael Leao, who made his debut this evening, Borini was able to double the lead in the 58th minute. After that, Milan continued to create chances, coming close to a third as Conti hit the bar with a powerful shot from the right flank.

However, Feronikeli managed to escape the Rossoneri’s final push as the game finished 0-2 in favour of the Italian side. Despite the scoreline, it was a good performance by Giampaolo’s men, who grabbed their first win of the pre-season. More importantly, the manager got the opportunity to test several players.

Of course, it’s hard for anyone to stand out in a scrappy friendly, especially if you only get 45 minutes to show yourself. However, a few managed to do so, including the new boy Leao. Playing his first game for the team, he showed great promise as he fearlessly took on his opponents, using his speed and ability to get past the defenders.

In the post-match interview, however, Giampaolo held back on the praise, focusing on the things that Leao can improve: “He is an instinctive type. Instinct is fine, but there are times when you have to follow orders as well. He has just arrived and I need to understand what the best position is for him”.

Only one game remains before the season starts in two weeks, as a friendly has been scheduled with Cesena for next Saturday. With that said, the upcoming week of training will be important for the players, since Giampaolo most likely will pick the starting eleven he believes could play the opener in Serie A.

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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Serie A Weekly Transfer Market Recap

There were barely any deal in the first few sleepy days of August, where Fiorentina and Milan were the main protagonists. La Viola signed Kevin-Prince Boateng and Pol Lirola from Sassuolo and sold Vitor Hugo to Palmeiras, hinting a switch to their defensive philosophy since they used to deploy Nikola Milenkovic at right back, but will no go with a more normal and aggressive look. The Rossoneri instead cashed in on Patrick Cutrone, who joined Wolverhampton, and substituted him with Rafael Leao from Lille, who projects to be a better fit next to Krzysztof Piatek, and then announced Ismael Bennacer from Empoli on Sunday. Juventus completed the sale of Moise Kean to EvertonContinue reading

Milan sign Bennacer from Empoli

After bringing in Rade Krunic earlier in the summer, Milan have acquired another midfielder from Empoli: Ismael Bennacer, who was bought for €16M and inked a five-year contract. The 21-year-old Algerian international is coming off his breakout season, where he piled up 37 appearances and provided three assists. He was just recently named the best player in the 2019 African Cup of Nations, where he was very instrumental in the Desert Warriors’ win.

A product of Arsenal’s youth academy, Bennacer has moved to Italy in the summer of 2017, immediately becoming a starter for the Azzurri. Continue reading

AC Milan rumour round-up: Two signings close as Cutrone departs

Another week has pasted and AC Milan remain very active on the transfer market. While two players are set to depart, at least two are expected to join the Rossoneri in the coming days. 

Wolves close deal for Cutrone; Andre Silva to move as well

On Friday, Cutrone left AC Milan’s training camp in Boston to fly back to Milan, ready to complete his move to Premier League and Wolves. An agreement has been reached between the clubs at €18m plus bonuses, while the striker will earn around €2m per year, which is double of what he earns now. Continue reading

AC Milan’s mercato gets complicated; from lack of sales to transfer blows

Despite closing in on their third signing for the summer, namely Bennacer, the Rossoneri are not satisfied just yet, having missed out on several of their targets. In fact, the management has been very active on the transfer market, but so far, only two deals have been successful: Krunic and Theo Hernandez. 

The road is long, given how much time there is left of the transfer window, but it’s also uphill as there are many things left on the to-do list for the Rossoneri. Furthermore, several targets have faded in recent weeks, making it even more difficult for the management to go ahead with their mercato plans. Continue reading

Suso rumours gathering steam; should AC Milan sell their star?

As Milan prepare for the upcoming season, Boban and Maldini are trying to work out what the squad should be like. Along with Giampaolo, therefore, they will have to decide which players should leave this summer, with the pre-season acting as a trial for those who are in the danger zone. 

One of these players is Suso. The Spaniard is arguably one of the Rossoneri’s best players, some would even say that he is the best, but next season will most likely be different. Giampaolo is keen on using the 4-3-1-2 formation, playing with a trequartista behind the two strikers. As you can tell, it clashes with Suso’s best interest, as he is at his best when playing on the right flank. Continue reading