Collab Blog by Matt Santangelo (@Matt_Santangelo, co-founder of @ACMilanBros) and Sandro (@TransfersCalcio):
It was a pretty quite winter mercato in Italy this year but we analyze the top 10 deals.
Cristian Tello to Fiorentina
- The Spanish winger joined La Viola on a 6-month loan deal on January 26th. Fiorentina have an option to buy Tello with Barcelona also having a counter-option. The pacey winger has integrated into Paulo Sousa’s squad pretty nicely so far. In seven Serie A appearances, he has one goal and three assists. In Sousa’s fluid 4-3-3 formation, Tello has found himself playing on the right wing. His silky dribbling skills fit pretty well into Sousa system. He was very dangerous in Fiorentina’s match against Napoli, even hitting the corner of the post and crossbar of a beautiful curling shot. If he can continue to put in performances similar to that match, Tello will be a very effective signing.
There is a good chance Fiorentina exercise their option to buy him this summer and Barcelona using the counter-option doesn’t seem too likely considering their attack. His agent Jose Maria Orobitg told Calciomercato: “Sousa has given him chances, now Cristian must improve physically to repay that faith. Clearly the style of play is perfectly suited to his characteristics, but he has to get used to the mechanics… If today you asked him to choose between Barcelona and Fiorentina he’d definitely pick the second option.”
Mauro Zarate to Fiorentina
– The Argentinian striker joined the Florentine club on a permanent deal from West Ham for an undisclosed fee. Zarate has scored two goals in only 218 minutes of Serie A play, including this absolute superb game winner against Carpi: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TmWcmQBB7UM. Most of his appearances have been off the bench so far and he got himself sent off with a three-match ban on February 14th due to an off-ball incident in the match against Inter. Zarate can play out wide and also as a second striker behind a target man like Kalinic or Babacar. It’s not easy to judge Mauro’s role and effectiveness yet as he hasn’t received too much playing time but his skill set could certainly be lethal in Sousa’s system. It will be interesting to see if Zarate will mostly play out on the wing or in the middle behind a central striker. Zarate spoke about his troubles in England and why he’s happy about the move: “In England, it was good because English football is enjoyable, but I wasn’t too comfortable with my role at the club. That is why I decided to come here. I prefer to play in a free, attacking role, one that allows me to roam. I have already spoken with Sousa and he has assured me I will have that here.”
Ciro Immobile to Torino
- The 26-year-old Italian striker rejoined his former club on loan with an option to buy from Borussia Dortmund. After failed spells at Dortmund and Sevilla, Immobile has returned to the club that put him on the map after being capocannoniere in 2013-2014. He doesn’t have Alessio Cerci to set him up for goals like two seasons ago but Ciro has returned with a pretty good start. He’s got five goals and two assists during 899 minutes in 11 Serie A appearances. Immobile will look to finish the season in top form, in hopes for a Euro call-up from Azzurri manager Antonio Conte. I’m sure both club and player will hope to find an agreement to secure a permanent move over the summer. Ever since Immobile left Torino, he never looked like the same player or found his scoring touch. Ciro just fits in perfectly with the Granata and he should stay there for the benefit of his career. In fact, if Immobile stays at Torino for the majority remainder of his career and keeps banging in goals on a consistent basis, he could even become a club legend.
Diego Perotti to A.S. Roma
– The Giallorossi signed Perotti from Genoa on the deadline day of the January transfer market. Originally a loan, the move has since become a permanent deal for a total of about €10 million. Considering Milan was also in the race to sign Perotti, Roma got a pretty good deal. He’s a versatile attacker who can play on both wings and in the middle. In fact, he has already found success both out wide and as a false nine for Roma. In just 516 Serie A minutes, Perotti has managed to score twice and dish out four assists. The Argentine has looked like a brilliant signing thus far. Dribbling and crossing are his best attributes, which is ideal for any winger. His versatility will be extremely useful under Luciano Spalletti, who has proven he’s willing to change his system unlike Rudi Garcia. His interplay with El Shawraawy and Salah has been superb and they’ve only been playing together for about a month and a half. Now, if Edin Dzeko could start scoring goals consistently as he’s been expected to, this offense would be top class. It looks as if basically swapping Iturbe and Gervinho for Perotti and El Sharaawy was a perfect move at the right time, with Spalletti taking over.
Ervin Zukanovic to A.S Roma
– The 29-year-old Bosnian joined from Sampdoria on January 29th. Just like Perotti, Roma turned his loan into a permanent deal for a total fee of €4 million. Joining his 12th team in his senior career and never staying anywhere for more than two seasons, Ervin might find some stability at Roma for a few years. The defender is a quality utility man who can play both left back and center back. It’s very unlikely he’ll ever become a regular starter for the Giallorossi but he will be a valuable backup option. Zukanovic has only played 390 minutes in 5 Serie A appearances so far but managed to assist El Sharaawy’s first goal at the club. He put in a great 90-minute performance against Real Madrid in their second leg Champions League match, recording nine clearances and five blocks. If Zukanovic can consistently put in performances like that when he gets playing time, he’ll be a splendid low-cost high-reward signing. Head coach Luciano Spalletti had some nice words when the defender signed for Roma: “He’s a player with lots of character and mentally he’s very strong. He’s good with the ball at his feet and is able to build the play well.”
Stephan El Shaarawy to A.S. Roma
- After finding it difficult to adapt to French football, Stephan El Shaarawy returned to Milan after the principality refused to play the winger for his 25th appearance. Monaco manager Leonardo Jardim did not observe the former Genoa player as part of his plans, and the club did not want to be forced into a €16 million obligation. Adriano Galliani had a few suitors, but only Roma was big enough to offer the Rossoneri a proper return for their depreciating asset. Sure enough, the Giallorossi acquired him on a €1.4 million loan with an option to buy at €13 million for the summer.
Since Luciano Spalletti was brought in to replace Rudi Garcia, Roma have been soaring in Serie A play, and Stephan El Shaarawy has been at the heart of it all. According to Opta, El Shaarawy has played a role in seven goals (5 scored, 2 assisted) in seven Serie A appearances with his new club. Spalletti has played him out on the left, but he’s letting El Shaarawy be himself and not tying him down to the left flank completely. While he is still tracking back to cover his defensive duties, he’s more controlled and not exerting himself as much as he did with Milan; using his energy more efficiently. When he’s been dealt a goal scoring opportunity, he’s looked like the '12-'13 version of himself. Composed and confident. The club itself has struck fire over the past few months, having reeled off eight consecutive league wins. They find themselves in third place on 59 points and trail the white-hot club of Juventus by 8 points.
Roma are hungry for a top three finish and right now, it appears they are the favorites for the final Champions League spot. Stephan El Shaarawy has simply been dynamite in little time and it seems as if Roma made the correct decision taking a flyer on him. If he continues to shine and Roma meets their league objective, there is no doubt that his option will be picked up for next season. Still only 23, Milan may wind up kicking themselves on this transaction, especially if Roma beat them out for third.
Éder to Inter
- The Brazil native shined last season under Siniša Mihajlović, bagging 12 goals with five assists. Since Antonio Conte’s options at striker are limited, Eder had managed to carry his solid ‘14-’15 form to the national side, becoming one of the favorites of the Azzurri boss throughout Euro 2016 qualification. Through the first part of the campaign, the 29-year old was among the top goal scorers in Italy tallying 12 goals in twenty-one matches across all competitions. Since making the rather obscure two-year loan move to the Nerazzurri in January, the Italian national has endured his share of woes, failing to find the back of the net in 8 total appearances for his new club.
Over the past few months, Roberto Mancini’s Inter have struggled to stay the course in pursuit of the top 3, slipping to 5th. Despite being ahead of city-rival Milan, fans of the black and blue are far from confident in their side as we enter the final three months of the season. For Inter, they will surely need more from their big winter signing. Mauro Icardi needs a supporting goal-scorer to lighten the burden and Mancini would love nothing more than to have Eder be that guy. Plus, by no means is Eder’s spot on the Italy roster for the Euro cemented. He’s not only fighting for his spot with Inter; he’s fighting for a trip to his first major competition. A lot is on the line for the former Cesena ace.
Suso to Genoa
- The Spaniard moved to Italy in January 2015 from Liverpool after his role could no longer be defined under former manager Brendan Rodgers. Despite his successes and growth abroad in the offensive-driven La Liga with Almeria a few years back, the 22-year old hasn’t been convincing enough to press his managers into trying him on a regular basis. At Milan, Mihajlović showed the willingness to hold “open tryouts” for a few of the roles up for grabs in the starting eleven. Unfortunately for Suso, his lone start against Empoli back in round 2 of the campaign was enough for Mihajlović to properly assess what he could – or perhaps couldn’t – provide the squad this season. As a result, the club sent the former Spain under-21 playmaker to premier business partner Genoa on a dry-loan.
Last season, M’Baye Niang underwent a successful spell with the Rossoblu, thus allowing him to compete for a starting role this year at Milan. For Suso, he has hopes of doing the same. However, in twelve matches under Gian Piero Gasperini, the former Merseyside starlet has scored just once, with two assists.
As Genoa jockey their way around mid-table, it’s likely that Suso will continue to get favorable playing time to prove his worth, but it will take an awful a lot for the Rossoneri to give Suso another go next season, for whichever manager it may be. He has some exceptional qualities but he is still very much a raw talent who needs to fine-tune a few things about his game.
Kevin Prince-Boateng to A.C. Milan
- After falling out of favor with Schalke, the Ghanaian had his contract terminated, allowing him to find refuge back in Italy where he endured the most success in his career. Kevin Prince-Boateng spent nearly three seasons with AC Milan in the Serie A, helping the club win an Italian Super Cup as well as the 18th Scudetto in team history. Boateng had been training with Milan since last fall, but officially signed a short-term deal with the Rossoneri this past January, hoping to restore order to his free-falling career. Fans of the club scratched their heads yet again. Adriano Galliani was silent during the window and the only move made to help bolster the squad for a Champions League spot was a free transfer.
In his second stint with the club, the 29-year old has appeared in 10 matches across Serie A and Cup play, scoring one goal. While the numbers are far from impressive, he’s only played a total of 256 minutes, which equates to about 25 minutes per appearance. That is simply not enough time to gauge a player’s impact, especially since Mihajlović’s tactics are vastly different to his former manager Massimiliano Allegri. For Boateng, it’s becomes a very interesting situation. The club has been injury-ridden in recent weeks and has several underperforming - and unfit - attackers like Jeremy Menez, Mario Balotelli and Luiz Adriano. At this point, it seems that Boateng is nothing more than a fresh set of legs at Mihajlović’s disposal. With the club slipping further away from the top three, it appears this could be a short-lived reunion for the 2010-11 standout.
Fabio Quagliarella to Sampdoria
- The 33-year old journeyman has traveled around Italy quite a bit throughout his career, featuring for Napoli, Udinese, Torino, Sampdoria, Ascoli and Juventus to an all-around solid playing career. After playing in 16 league matches for Toro, Quagliarella was sold to Sampdoria during the winter mercato as Torino elected to open up a return for Ciro Immobile to pair with the young Andrea Belotti.
Under manager Vincenzo Montella, the former Scudetto winner has enjoyed a successful spell back with the Blucerchiati. The 2010 World Cup goal-scorer for Italy has collected 3 goals in seven league matches, and has been key in helping Sampdoria escape – for now – troubling waters down in the relegation zone. Prior to his arrival, it seemed as if Sampdoria would become a potential candidate for the drop, but the pressure seems to have cooled a bit as they are 6 points clear of Frosinone for 18th. Down the stretch, Montella will surely call upon the veteran striker to ensure the club plays in the top-flight of Italian calcio next season at the Stadio Luigi Ferraris. Even though his better years are behind him, the ex-Bianconeri attacker still eyes his 100th career Serie A goal, and it could potentially come this season should he bag four more through the final nine matches of the campaign.