The question really is, how can Italian clubs possibly compete in the Champions League in the current climate? “No fear” I hear you cry “UEFA’s Financial Fair Play rules are coming in, all will be level throughout the continent.” Hmmmm. Here is what I think of Serie A's future bets.
When you look at La Liga or the Premier League, you see double figure sales, record transfer fees, eye-watering wages. In Serie A you wouldn’t be surprised if someone signs a player for a million Euro and a bag of footballs! I’m being facetious of course, and in truth a return to normality wouldn’t go amiss in England.
The question really is, how can Italian clubs possibly compete in the Champions League in the current climate? “No fear” I hear you cry “UEFA’s Financial Fair Play rules are coming in, all will be level throughout the continent.” Hmmmm. Here is what we think of Serie A's future bets.
The Old Lady
Let’s stick to the league title, which Juventus are gripping stronger than Suarez teeth on a defender’s shoulder. They are going for their fourth straight Serie A triumph and let’s be honest, they’re going away from the field, not getting pulled back in.
They have sold a few strikers in Fabio Quagliarella, Mirko Vucinic and Ciro Immobile, the last of the three was the only one to return a decent goals haul, belying the English translation of his name with 23 last season.
They’re obviously looking to replace them and Belgian powerhouse-cum-serial Premier League loanee Romalu Lukaku looks favourite to go there. There is strong competition from Everton, where he scored 16 in 33, and Tottenham, but the player has stated he would like Champions League football. I’m at a loss as to why Mourinho won’t try him at Stamford Bridge, but I will concede the two-time Champions League winning manager may know more than me about footballers.
Another striker who could be a great signing is Alvaro Morato, from Real Madrid. He’s been prolific at junior level for club and country. In six Under 21 European qualifiers, he scored eight goals for Spain. He largely played off the bench in La Liga last season, only featuring for 578 minutes (six and a half matches) but still managed eight goals for the first team. Now I know you and I could probably score in that side, but it’s still a decent return. If he moves look out for him in the top Serie A goal scorer market as an each-way bet. They still have Levante and Tevez remember so it’s worth making sure he will start.
More important than any striker they sign, is whether they keep Arturo Vidal and Paul Pogba. Two of the star midfielders in world football are being coveted by at least three Premier League clubs, with money bags Liverpool joining Manchester United and Chelsea in the hunt. It will be interesting to see if Chelsea edge in front of Liverpool in the Pogba race, with Lukaku a major bargaining chip.
Roma were a full 17 points behind Juve last term and need a marquee signing. Bucking the trend of low spending, they’ve splashed 22 million Euro on Argentinian Juan Iturbe, who scored 8 in 33 last season for Hellas Verona.
As with Juve, who Roma lose may be more crucial. Mattia Destro scored 13 in 20 last season and although he only shone in spells, many have seen something they really like. I’m hearing Tottenham may well table a £20 million bid.
Napoli next then and it will be interesting to see if they can catch Roma. They finished seven points behind them last season and seven in front of Fiorentina. So far you couldn’t say Rafa Benitez has made everyone sit up and take notice with his signings. Michu is an interesting loan from Swansea. An injury-plagued 2013/14 saw a return of 6 goals in 24 appearances. His first year at Swansea was brilliant, breaking from midfield and scoring 22 in 43, with half a dozen assists too. The season before he got 17 in 39 for Rayo Vallecano in La Liga. If he is back to full fitness, he could be a very good signing and worth a look for the anytime scorer markets.
Milan's New Dodo
What about the Milan clubs? Well Inter have just signed Brazilian Dodo (come on now, it’s been hard enough for them without you making jokes!) and are rumoured to be in for full-back Ricardo Rodriquez from Wolfsburg. He’s valued at about 30 million Euro and that may be a bit much.
As for AC Milan the only rumour I could dig out was a possible interest in Alexandru Maxim, an attacking midfielder at Stuttgart, valued at about 8 million Euro. As usual most of the chat is about Balotelli. It looks like they are trying to get rid of him, Silvo Berlosconi even said that Mario’s not so super World Cup cost them a certain sale to an unnamed Premier League club.
Free Soccer Pick: It will come as no surprise to you that I’ll be going for Juve to make it four in a row, with Napoli second this time and Roma third.