This week has been another week of increased transfer speculation and also a week where we have seen two and soon to be three new arrivals, in the confirmation of Andrea Pirlo’s transfer which was the worst kept secret in football, plus the signing of Reto Ziegler from Sampdoria on a bosman free transfer and also the soon to be confirmed signing of Michele Pazienza from Napoli, also on a free transfer. Antonio Conte has not been officially unveiled just yet, however I’m presuming this is down to the fact that Siena have yet to finish their Serie B campaign just yet and him taking charge next season is 99% nailed on.
Andrea Pirlo. I could just leave it there as more or less every fan of calcio and indeed world football knows what this man is capable of when on song. A one of a kind player who oozes class and has experience in abundance. He’s a winner, a champion and most importantly, still has the ability to become a key player for us in the coming season or so. Can he play in as one of a pairing in a 4-4-2? I hear you say. Well at this stage of his career it remains to be seen, as defensive solidity has never really been one of Pirlo’s key assets, but he has played exceptionally well in such a system in the past and I’m sure he will be able to adjust himself to fit the system as he has done a number of different systems over his career. As far as free transfers go, this is a really excellent signing and an excellent coup for the club, in my opinion.
My thoughts on Ziegler…. Well it makes sense, a lot of sense. By no means is he an outstanding Left Back by any stretch of the imagination. However, he is solid, reliable, very capable and also offers a good amount of versatility. On a free transfer it’s definitely a no brainer as he can challenge De Ceglie for a first team place, whilst not being too good to be an unmovable object in the side, thus not stunting Paolino’s growth as a player either. Given that a 4-4-2/4-2-4 also requires wingers who are capable defensively as well as offensively, Ziegler’s ability (aswell as De Ceglie) to play either role is certainly a benefit and he offers us a very potent left footed threat from set pieces too.
Pazienza is not exactly the most exciting of signings and he may be underwhelming to some, but again, like the Ziegler deal, it makes complete sense. One of the main issues we had this season was the fact that when one of our key starters got injured/suspended, we had nobody like for like who could come in and play the role to a competent level, thus meaning we found ourselves having to tweak the system slightly which was detrimental to team performances and results. Pazienza will be that man for us as cover for Felipe Melo (providing he remains at the club), he’s had a good season for Napoli and is a solid if unspectacular defensive midfielder.
Other names who have been heavily linked this week include Sergio Agüero of Atletico Madrid and Gökhan Inler of Udinese. Both are without question excellent players, both of whom have excelled and had really outstanding campaigns individually this season. However, whether or not we need these said players is very questionable.
Now Inler, I really don’t see a place for here unless Marotta has made the decision to sell Felipe Melo. This for me would be a quite frankly idiotic decision as Felipe has been our player of the season this campaign and should be one of the first names on the teamsheet as far as I’m concerned. There hasn’t been any substantial news to suggest that Felipe Melo will be on his way out, but there has been the odd murmur and hopefully it will just remain at that. Don’t get me wrong, Inler is an excellent player, but given he isn’t an improvement on those we already have, plus the fact we’re already stacked in the central midfield position, we’d be best advised to stay away.
Agüero on the other hand is an interesting one. For me, he is one of the top forward prospects in world football, whilst already being a ‘world class’ player in his own right. Barring a couple of sides, namely Real Madrid and Barcelona, he would almost certainly be a guaranteed starter in most, if not all football clubs worldwide and would improve those sides undoubtedly. It would be silly and foolish to say that if the opportunity arose for us to sign Sergio Agüero and it was within budget, that I wouldn’t want him to join Juventus, because I absolutely would. However, it does seem very unlikely that we’ll be able to spend the whopping €45m+ on the Argentinian international this summer and we really have much more pressing needs than signing another forward, namely in the left wing and right back positions. If we somehow managed to pull off this signing though, I would be absolutely ecstatic. Absolutely.
So that will conclude this week’s friday thoughts on the mercato thus far. Given the way we’ve got off to an excellent start in this regard, you have to give Marotta credit, as he’s made some very shrewd signings and hopefully he will continue to show this form throughout the summer. It’s going to be a very intriguing/frustrating/exciting/irritating/overwhelming/underwhelming [pick suitable option] mercato, that’s for sure.