Serie A Weekly News Recap

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The puzzle of benches got completed this week: Bologna have appointed Filippo Inzaghi and Sassuolo have hired Roberto De Zerbi. The biggest transfer market news was the acquisition of Simone Verdi by Napoli, while there has been some minor movement as well: Fiorentina have acquired centre-back David Hancko from Zilina, Chievo have signed Filip Djordjevic for free from Lazio, activated the option to retain Nenad Tomovic from Fiorentina and sold Samuel Bastien to Standard Liege, Sampdoria have brought in former Verona defender Alex Ferrari via Bologna and Torino have loaned Carlao back to Apoel. Juventus have signed Andrea Favilli from Ascoli, who will likely go on loan.  Continue reading

The Underutilized Newcomers XI

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The summer is always a time for much fanfare: the clubs and the fans get excited about the new acquisitions, but when it is time to play, some of them could be quickly discarded by the coaches. There are teams that prefer to bring along the youngsters very slowly and at times injuries prevent the teams from seeing their investment pay off. Let’s take a look of a line-up composed by newcomers that have been underutilized, mostly because of coaching decisions: the tactic will be the 4-2-3-1 that is so in vogue right now.

The goalkeeper is the cleanest position from this standpoint: the newcomers are all covering the roles they were expected too. Maybe the only slight disappointment is Vanja Milinkovic-Savic, acquired very early by Torino from Lechia Gdansk for €2.6M, but Sinisa Mihajlovic did not like what he saw in the pre-season and they signed Salvatore Sirigu as a starter. The defence is formed by a couple of Cagliari players: Gregory Van der Wiel arrived from Fenerbahce, but due to a sore ankle and some conditioning issues he has barely practiced with the rest of the group and they have a big void on that flank after Mauricio Isla’s departure. They spent €7.6M on Filippo Romagna from Juventus, as part of a swap deal, but Massimo Rastelli picked Marco Andreolli, Fabio Pisacane and Luca Ceppittelli over him: he started, and struggled, only against Napoli when they ran out of options. The 19-year-old Nikola Milenkovic was signed by Fiorentina from Partizan for €5.1M, but he has yet to record a single minute. Sampdoria acquired Nicola Murru for €7M from Cagliari, but he quickly became a backup after they opted to bring in Ivan Strinic after the first subpar outings.

Maxime Gonalons transferred from Olympique Lyonnais to Roma for €5M mostly to be Daniele De Rossi’s reserve: it is tough to unseat the veteran, but it was reasonable to expect more than two mere starts at this point and the performances were rather underwhelming. His partner in the midfield is Francesco Cassata, whom Sassuolo signed from Juventus for €7M. The Neroverdi have had all sorts of problems and tried many different combinations, but the versatile youngster has yet to log a single minute.

In the three-man forward line behind the striker, we have Adam Ounas on the right flank: Maurizio Sarri is always very hesitant in giving minutes to newcomers, especially the younger ones, but right now he has a €10M player sitting on the bench. A magnified example of that is Federico Bernardeschi, which Juventus pried away from Fiorentina for €40M: he had a single start, against Atalanta, where he scored. Massimiliano Allegri did the same thing with Paulo Dybala and Marko Pjaca in the previous seasons, so it is likely only a matter of time. Also, like Sarri, he had little reasons to move on from the regular starters. On the left wing, there is Oliver Kragl: he was a top player in Serie B and you would think that the talent-poor Crotone would be able to use him in some way, but so far he has not cracked the regular rotation, featuring only in small twenty-minute cameos.

There were some good candidates for the role of the lone strikers, such as Sampdoria’s Dawid Kownacki and Udinese’s Riad Bajic, but the starting job goes to Benevento’s Samuel Armenteros. It is tough for foreigners to adapt to a new league, but Benevento have struggled so much offensively and every combination of Massimo Coda, Pietro Iemmello and George Puscas has been disappointing. Perhaps the coach should trust Armenteros more, who scored 29 times with Heracles last season, but it looks like he will move to a trident, therefore limiting the playing opportunities for the strikers.

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