The mercato circus has come to town and its garish screams, roars and ghoulish rides are again a daily avalanche across our screens…seeping into our daydreams and nightmares, igniting brutal twitter ‘wars’ and generally twisting many of us hideously out of shape.
My main hope, however forlorn, is that we can get our business done quickly. Yet must accept that unfortunately, and regardless of my ongoing concerns of the new Arriavabene-Cherubini axis, matters are such that even with negotiations taking place behind the scenes, some moves cannot finalise as they rely on other moves happening first.
The departures of contracts ended were easier, if rather ugly with the recent confirmation that the agreement with Dybala was pulled away from him ‘after other evaluations’, with the potential sales of any sizeable value all far more tricky. I’ve no eagerness to delve into the Dybala saga. Time to move on…So what transfers have happened, are underway or seem credible to believe are possible???
Franco Israel >>> Sporting
22 year old, Uruguayan keeper, Franco Israel, is moving to Sporting Lisbon on a €1m deal with a sell on clause suggested as high as 50% (TBC). Given we signed the lad for 2.2m (2018 from Club Nacional) this represents for now not the best piece of business. Yet who knows, perhaps he will prosper at Sporting and earn us a tidy penny in the future. Sporting are one of those clubs who develop players and regularly create mega sell on value. Franco was our starting man between the sticks last season for the U23 side.
Ange Chibozo >>> Amiens
Obligation to purchase and cough up 1m if the physically imposing striker meets certain targets at his new club. His contract with us expires next Summer regardless so could then sign for free. Always a shame to lose a promising youngster, especially the strongest attacker in the youth ranks. Ange (19) plundered 20 goals with 9 assists from 43 appearances this season for the U19s and also is a full international for Benin.
Giacomo Vrioni >>> New England Revolution
Another front man with a clear eye for goal, Juve have sold Vrioni (23) to MLS side New England Revolution for around €3.6m. Vrioni was second top scorer in the Austrian Bundesliga last season…I thought he could potentially make a decent back-up for Dusan or at least command a much higher fee. Brief profile can found here.
As a curious contrast, Karim Adeyemi, a 20 year old playing for Red Bull Salzburg, managed 19 goals and 7 assists from his 34 games in league and cup. He has since moved onto Dortmund for EU30m.
Vrioni struck the net 21 times with 5 assists from his 30 games in the same league and cup competitions. Then moves to the MLS for €3.6m (after we signed him from Samp in 2020 for 3.9m)
It is a remarkable difference. Admittedly Adeyemi appears a much trickier player on the ball yet still, I cannot help but conclude that we are incredibly poor at doing business.
Pietro Beruatto >>> Pisa
The 23 year old left back, capped at numerous Italy youth levels, has opted to continue his blossoming career with Pisa, where he featured strongly last term in their journey to the Serie B play-offs, falling short at the final hurdle. Signed in 2014 for 50k, the EU2.1m fee brings in a solid profit on the investment.
Douglas Costa >>> Los Angeles Galaxy
What a strange story for Little Doug, who for a lengthy period in Germany looked sometimes phenomenal, then in flashes for us quite special, then…his legs expired well before the expected use by date. No doubt we have lost a fair amount of money on this one, but it appears he has activated the contract to turn his loan in LA into a permanent deal through to the end of the coming season. We of course received $ZERO, such was the desperation to simply keep him well away from Turin. FOREVER. Still only 31, the fleet footed imp has featured often for the American side since joining in February.
Gianluca Frabotta >>> Lecce
The adventurous fullback appeared at times promising under Pirlo’s muddled tenure, deemed surplus to requirements by Max and sent out on an ill-fated loan for the recent campaign to Verona, where he managed a wretched appearance count of 2 matches, totaling 18 minutes. In his defence, the 23 year old suffered injury nightmares keeping him out of contention until late February, then struggled to make any headway into the first XI. His contract with Juve expires next season and the loan move to Lecce includes a purchase option with counter purchase option, so the door remains a few milimetres ajar for some vague idea of a future with Juve, at best, as a makeweight next season if he prospers at new club Lecce.
Merih Demiral >>> Atalanta
If rumours are to be believed, Atalanta were not majorly committed to taking advantage of the purchase option, yet ultimately did so. The brutish Turk featured prominently for much of their campaign. I suspect they will be looking to sell him on, perhaps for a tidy profit, though may keep him to play in the first XI and try to increase his sale price for next year. I quite like him…rough, uncompromising, determined…yet I suppose we have Gatti to consider.
The CB was purchased for €15m in 2019, so the incoming €20m represents a fair profit, especially when amortization is taken into account.
Whispers in the shadows
Cremonese CEO, Ariedo Braida, told reporters recently that yes of course they wish to take Nicolo Fagioli on loan, keep a key player from their successful promotion campaign as they return to Serie A, yet Juve have indicated that presently he will remain with the squad to be assessed for potential inclusion. It may change, and Cremonese will remain in pole position. This is pleasing news for his skillset as a deep lying playmaker/regista is a position where we do not have a perfect fit. The 21 year old has broken into the Italy U21 side, and enjoyed a splendid season, with 3 goals and 7 assists as a mainstay in the first XI.
Promising central midfielder Filippo Ranocchia (21) is apparently courted by a selection of clubs from both the top and second tier. Another of our starlets who has broken into the Italy U21 side this past year, after a strong campaign on loan with Vicenza. Serie A newcomers Cremonese, alongside Sampdoria, Udinese and Verona appear interested, and with his contract expiring in 2023 Juve are keen to extend on a new 4 year deal and arrange a loan in the top flight. It has also been suggested that he could be used as a counterpart in any deal for Zaniolo…rumours of our interest in the Roma flair merchant have grown significantly this last week. With the capital club perhaps seeking as much as 50m for the 22 year old italian.
I applaud the strategy of creating an Italian core of the finest young talents we can procure, though have major reservations of any player who has suffered two ACL injuries in the last few years, and has yet to truly establish himself in a set role for club or country. His career shows his most potent output in the final third has come when playing as a trequartista/AM and Mourinho evidently concluded similar given he has deployed Zaniolo as an SS since last November, to some success.
Beyond the horrific injury record, the concern would be that Max is blinkered towards a 4-3-3 and will try make the best of the player as a wide forward. Yet maybe our coach will surprise and actually create a system to get the best of our players in their natural roles, as he did once before and as a fine chum mentioned on twitter earlier:
To my mind, Pogba needs to play as an offensive focused player, NOT as part of a double pivot, yet we could deploy a 4-2-3-1 or 4-3-2-1 and have the Frenchman central in an AM role, with Zaniolo working as his understudy.
The Di Maria transfer continues to move forward, albeit with less fanfare. A few sources suggesting the move could be finalised next week. His age and the contract length aside (1 or at best 2 years) the Argentine would prove a high quality stopgap measure and assuredly add some much needed creativity to our offence.
Luca Pellegrini is very much on the market. West Ham and recently returned to the premier league Fulham may swoop, with the price set around €12m. Also in the LB realm, we may be close to signing Genoa fullback, Andrea Cambiaso, for 4/5m and Dragusin heading in the opposite direction.
To my reckoning, we are bang average on both flanks in this key role of the modern game. Sandro has long played as if he retired and in mind and sprit is already back on the sand of Rio, with Pellegrini showing flickering signs of value, and had a few of his efforts on goal been an inch closer to the net, I suspect many more would be singing his praises. However, we need money and he is not ready to be the starter of a more solid side.
Cambiaso is promising, though seen as one for the future and could be loaned out to Salernitana, which I hope heralds the signing of a much stronger incoming LB.
The greatest drama abounding is surrounding De Ligt. With his contract expiring in 2024, absence of interest in signing an extension alongside the words of Arrivabene, it seems clear now that the young Dutchman is packing his bags.
Chelsea, and likely a few other elite clubs with deep pockets are circling. Pulisic could be an interesting counterpart alongside 70m from the London outfit, with the american facing an uncertain future at the very much in flux PL side and still young enough to recover his impressive form from Germany. He can naturally fit into the LWF role, for which we have presently nobody. Must consider that his English adventure has been largely fits and spurts of sparkling form, then fitness bothers. At 23, the American remains of solid potential.
If De Ligt does move, we will have to purchase a solid CB. Gatti may well be included in the squad, but as with Fagioli/Miretti/Rovella, would not be earmarked as a starter. Repeated reports of interest in a late snatch for Bremer, which would be superb though I suspect unlikely. Also Koulibaly. And of late, PSG’s 26 year old Presenel Kimpembe. The french lad is established for his national side, captain in a couple of games this year. Is expected to have an asking price of 40m.
It is encouraging to find many young talents, alongside the proven class of Pogba and Di Maria linked to the club. Seems reasonable to expect the LB position to be majorly upgraded and also for an experienced head to come into midfield, yet referring back to what I wrote many lines above, this will depend upon any potential sale of Rabiot and/or Arthur. Both of whom I would happily see sent elsewhere.
We also need to move on Kean, who may return to Paris with long term interest Paredes joining our ranks, as that experienced CM I hinted at above. It would not surprise me at all to find Moise prospering elsewhere for I do not believe in the slightest that he is a dud. Power, pace, finishing, physicality, eye for goal…He has all the ingredients to become a monster and I hope he does. It just hasn’t worked out for him back in Turin, during a period when very few have looked consistently decent.
As I keep reminding myself – no matter how cynical I can often think of the upper management chosen to lead the revival of our sagging fortunes – I had concluded a year back that whoever came in to improve the squad would likely need 2-3 seasons to return us to become seriously competitive domestically, let alone beyond. With this in mind, despite the lack of instant success of the signings made this last 12 months, I believe Zakaria, Locatelli and Dusan are quality players who will prosper when involved with a more balanced, higher technical level squad.
In short, whether Cherubini and Arrivabene or anyone else, the job they face is difficult. For we have been poorly mismanaged since the Ronaldo experiment and kicking Beppe Marotta out the door many moons ago. A club our size, with the money involved, charging along with a spinning compass for 4 years, cannot be made perfect in 1 year. Nut of the matter is that I retain hope, even flashes of excitement for the mercato and season to come.
(Find me on that horror show of twitter HERE)