Tarantino’s latest film “One Upon a Time in Hollywood” is ultimately about transitions. The end of the peace and love phase with the Manson murders (at least in real life), Hollywood ushering in the era of the great directors of the 70s and the big life changes in store for the main characters Cliff Booth and Rick Dalton who are on their way down, while Sharon Tate is raising to the top.
By the same token Serie A also feels like it’s in transition. Inter are taking things to the next level after years of dealing with Financial Fair Play restrictions, Roma moving away from both Francesco Totti and Daniele De Rossi, Milan fully embracing the youth movement, Juventus trying to expand their brand to rival the top clubs in the world and Napoli going after higher caliber players following Ancelotti’s hire last year.
So considering the parallels, I couldn’t help but use my favorite quotes from Tarantino’s new film to break down what we saw in the summer transfer window in Italy.
Interviewer: So, Rick, explain to the audience exactly what a stunt double does.
Rick Dalton: Actors are required to do a lot of dangerous stuff. Cliff here is meant to help carry the load.
Interviewer: Is that how you describe your job, Cliff?
Cliff Booth: What, carrying his load? Yeah, it’s about right.
When they both worked at Juventus, Fabio Paratici was the one getting most of the credit for the great moves like discovering Arturo Vidal while Beppe Marotta was the one getting mocked for all the loan with option to buy deals and inability to sign a top striker for multiple years. When Juventus pulled off the Matthijs De Ligt signing in early August, many bianconeri fans actually stated that it would have never happened had Marotta still been at the club because he was too “cheap” to spend so much on one big name.
Well things radically changed in the following weeks- with Marotta at the helm, Inter broke their transfer fee record first on Niccolo’ Barella (although on a loan with option to buy deal) and subsequently on Romelu Lukaku- also the most expensive player to move from the Premier League to Serie A.
Meanwhile at Juventus, following all the praise for the De Ligt acquisition, Paratici received a ton of criticism for selling Moise Kean, Joao Cancelo and shopping Paulo Dybala. While Juventus was known for their great ability to plan, they looked as disorganized as ever because of their inability to move players with massive salaries forcing them to consider sacrificing younger players because they had a bigger appeal on the market.
Marotta and Inter on the other hand waited patiently to find new homes for Radja Nainggolan, Ivan Perisic and Joao Mario to get them off Conte’s squad. If that weren’t enough, while many expected Inter to have no choice but to ship Icardi to Juventus to get rid of their biggest headache, Marotta was able to send him outside of Serie A on the last day of the deadline. Marotta went from carrying Paratici’s load by taking all the criticism at Juventus, to looking like the one who really knew what he was doing which is also a perfect description of the relationship between Cliff and Rick in Tarantino’s movie.
Woman at a Party: Sharon absolutely has a type: cute, short, talented guys who look like 12 year old boys
At the end of May, Ivan Gazidis gave a long interview to Gazzetta dello Sport in which he outlined Milan’s plans for the next year. The former Arsenal director stated that the club would target players who could become stars at Milan rather than established players- and that is exactly what he did.
Milan acquired Leao (born in 99), Ismael Bennacer (born in December of 97), Theo Hernandez (born in 97), Duarte (born in 96) with Rade Krunic and Ante Rebic as the only new additions older than 25. In addition to sticking to a type on the transfer market, Milan hired a manager who has a great track record of developing players.
While at Sampdoria, Marco Giampaolo launched Skriniar, Torreira, Schick and Praet who were all sold for substantial plusvalenze. Milan on the other hand wants Giampaolo to develop their new additions (as well as Piatek and Paqueta) so that they can become the backbone of their squad moving forward. The question is will Milan fans have the patience to see this project through after many disappointing seasons.
Jay Sebring: Is everyone ok?
Rick Dalton: Well, the f*cking hippies aren’t
Gianluca Petrachi rightfully received a lot of praise for his work as Roma’s new sporting director. He resigned Edin Dzeko and Nicolo’ Zaniolo, brought in Diawara, Zappacosta, Vertout, Pau Lopez, Spinazzola, Mancini, Smalling and Mkhitaryan (we won’t hold Kalinic against him since he replaced Schick who was a massive bust) which on paper made the team rather intriguing.
But prior to Petrachi’s arrival, the giallorossi suffered some very significant losses. Roma had a poor defense last season and they lost their only above average center back in Manolas, they lost their captain Daniele De Rossi who was still very effective when he played, as well Stephan El Shaarawy who was the team’s most consistent player last season. Roma is in better shape than Manson’s hippies at the end of the movie, but we cannot forget about all their losses when praising their additions- they may not be as okay as some think.
Sadie Atkins:“My idea is to kill the people who taught us to kill!”
To Napoli’s credit they have done a good of challenging Juventus in recent years despite a massive difference in revenues. But as we well know both Sarri (when he worked there) and De Laurentiis were never shy to bring this up when they inevitably feel short of winning the scudetto.
But this year Napoli made a significant change with their policies. While in previous years, they avoided working with two of the top player agents in the game, Mino Raiola and Jorge Mendes, this summer they fully embraced it. Creating strong relationships with agents and showing willingness to pay big commissions has worked well for Juventus so it made sense for Napoli to embrace this same strategy to try to further bridge the gap.
While Napoli feel short of signing one of Mendes’ top clients in James Rodriguez (mainly because he didn’t want another loan deal following his stint at Bayern Munich), they did get deals for Manolas and Lozano, two of Raiola’s players, across the line. Look for Napoli to continue to build on these relationship to try to finally pass Juventus in the standings.
Rick Dalton: You can do anything you want to him. Throw him off a building, right? Hit him with a Lincoln! Right? Get creative?
You have to hand it to Claudio Lotito- he does things on his terms. Lazio’s president has gotten great returns on players on expiring deals (Hernanes, Biglia, Candreva), a player some felt he held on to for too long (Felipe Anderson) while assembling a strong squad.
But Lotito can also pretty bombastic with his quotes and this summer he wasn’t afraid to publicly attack Luis Alberto and admit he had run out of ammunition to hold on to Milinkovic Savic. However, he was able to keep both in addition to his sporting director Tare’ and manager Inzaghi who were linked to Milan. The continuity in addition to the very shrewd addition of Manuel Lazzari may finally get Lazio to the Champions League
Randy: you know my wife Janet?
Randy: Steer clear of her
One of my favorite things about “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood” is that Kurt Russell is the narrator and Tarantino’s long time stuntman coordinator plays Janet’s role (she’s the one that breaks up the fight between Cliff Booth and Bruce Lee). This particular line is so easy to apply to Wanda Nara, who dominated the summer transfer window often with cryptic messages on Instagram.
Wanda certainly broke new ground in the agent game this summer- she used her pulpit on a major national Calcio TV program by making a statement Marotta had to later deny, she threatened to sue Inter to reintegrate Icardi, only to agree to join Paris St Germain just a few days later. But don’t forget this is a loan deal, there’s a pretty good chance we’ll be back at square one next summer.
Pussycat: Are you an actor?
Cliff: No, I’m a stuntman
The stretch of the film after Cliff picks up Pussycat and drives her to the old film studio is one of the best of Tarantino’s career. In any event, this line makes me think of the fact that this summer it became very evident that young players- particularly those who came up through a club’s youth system- are often just financial assets.
Now Inter had been using many of the players from their impressive Primavera squads for years to raise funds to meet their Financial Fair Play parameters, but this summer they made headlines for Vanheudsen’s 12 million transfer to Standard Liegi. At least Cutrone and Kean had significant name recognition, but a thing all these players have in common is their incoming transfer fee was essentially a pure capital gain (“plusvalenza”) since they had little to no amortized value on the books. Look for this to continue to be a trend and remember this quote next time you read about a rich club’s Loan Army or great youth system.
Cliff: what’s the matter partner?
Rick: It’s official, I’m a has been
Mkhytarian, Darmian, Alexis Sanchez, Zappacosta, Imbula, Ghezzal and I’m probably forgetting a few more. These are the names of Premier League players who arrived in Serie A at the very end of the transfer window mostly on loan deals. While it’s very unlikely any of them will turn into the new Mohamed Salah, who made a triumphant return to England after a spell in Serie A, they have intensified a trend that Mario Balotelli started after his disastrous spell at Liverpool.
I dedicate this column to my beloved cat Cianci