Straight from the dark heart of Italy
Second-placed Napoli can at least claim to be top of the league when it comes to getting their house in order financially – that should please UEFA and Michel Platini.
Club owner Aurelio de Laurentiis was all smiles when he informed the world that he had balanced the books, and if he wanted, the movie mogul could blow the rest of Serie A away if he ever deemed to cash in on Edinson Cavani, Marek Hamsik and Ezequiel Lavezzi.
Another 100 million Euro in the bank account would be all well and good, but the Partenopei have their sights firmly set on Champions League qualification, and like the rest of those chasing a top-four place they want and need reinforcements.
The forward-thinking De Laurentiis had given Walter Mazzarri more authority over transfer dealings, turning him from a coach into more of a manager in the English mode.
There may be no Diego Maradona-like figure out there but Mazzarri can at least target three or four names that, together, can take the club to the next level.
One objective is Claudio Yacob , the 24-year-old midfielder with Racing Club Avellaneda. At a mere 5m Euro he would be a much better prospect that Momo Sissoko, who has been touted around the league and beyond by Juventus but with no takers so far.
Of course, no Napoli side can ever have enough Argentines in their ranks, but an Italian may well be the sort of dream arrival (as we said, times are hard) the fans have been calling for: Giuseppe Rossi.
The Villarreal striker is suddenly in demand and Juventus would love to take the Italy international to Turin, especially after Luca Toni broke down last night during the Italian Cup win over Catania. But with funds tight, the bargain basement Antonio Floro Flores looks more affordable to the Biaconeri.
The Old Lady must be wishing they had not let David Trezeguet leave so easily. The veteran has rediscovered his goalscoring touch and joie de vivre at Hercules in Spain, and Ronaldo has already contacted his old mate about joining him at Corinthians, but a move back to Italy has been mooted.
However, it is the same old problem of cash – or lack of it. Lazio have made contact with the former France international’s Spanish club, who want at least 3m Euro, while the Romans were thinking more along the lines of a free transfer.
The signs are that somewhere in the middle could just see one of the most unlikely returns to Italian football taking place. Having missed out on Roque Santa Cruz, the Biancocelesti are desperate for added fire power upfront, where Tomasso Rocchi and Sergio Floccari have only scored six goals between them – the last of which came back in November.
It is the same story around the rest of the league: bringing in quality reinforcements on shoe-string budgets (or least budgets working towards staying on the right side of Monsieur Platini).
Everyone will have to fall in line. Hence, AC Milan have been sounding out Marco van Bommel, out of contract at Bayern Munich in the summer. At 33, though, he hardly fits into the long-term planning for a club with designs on dominating at home and Europe again.
Domenico Criscito, on the other hand, is the sort of investment that the Rossoneri should be making. At just 24, the Italy international would solve the problem with the left-back position, but Genoa are asking 18m Euro while run-of-the-mill Cagliari midfielder Andrea Lazzari is valued at 10m Euro.
Of course, Milan chief executive Adriano Galliani make be able to wangle a lower price, or maybe even a loan deal, but as we enter the second-half of the winter transfer market the stakes are becoming higher – even if the outlay for players throughout Serie A remains modest.
Criscito isn't the best full back in the world but he is a step in the right direction. Genoa have no chance of getting 18m euro for him though. he's hardly worth half that. A right back too(De Silvestri, perhaps) would all of sudden give Milan a chance of doing something in this years CL. If no fullbacks arrive, then they'll be knocked out pretty soon.
And stay the hell away from Van Bommel. Is past his best, a best that was never much good in the first place.
Hopefully Juve can get Rossi as they badly need a striker. As for Napoli, a good centre back would be useful. The ever reliable Richard Dunne is rotting away at Villa. I think he could be the one to push Napoli into next years CL.
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