Silly season has started all over Europe. Between June and August 31, the football world goes into overdrive with no rumour seemingly off limits. Zlatan Ibrahimovic to Napoli? Why not? Lionel Messi to Monaco? That’ll work. But despite all the nonsense and hokum that is spouted over the summer transfer window, genuine, bona fide deals have been struck in Serie A.
Clubs all over the peninsula have seen big names out of the door, but crucially parted with cash to see other marquee players come back in. Fiorentina let Stevan Jovetic go to Manchester City for €30m, but reinvested some of that for Bayern Munich hitman Mario Gomez and Palermo’s Josip Ilicic. Inter have been incredibly busy, gambling on young starlets Ishak Belfodil and Mauro Icardi.
Under Rafael Benitez, Napoli are coming to terms with Edinson Cavani’s exit by splashing out on Real Madrid pair Raul Albiol and Jose Maria Callejon, with Los Blancos teammate Gonzalo Higuain expected to arrive at the Partenopei very soon.
Juventus have added to their already world-class squad by signing up Carlos Tevez and Fernando Llorente for the grand total of €9m.
Lazio have brought in Anderlecht’s highly-rated midfielder Lucas Biglia and, just as good as a signing, seem set to keep hold of star playmaker Hernanes. On the other side of the capital, new Roma boss Rudi Garcia has opened up the American cheque book for Mehdi Benatia, Douglas Maicon and Morgan De Sanctis. Even Parma have got in on the act – Antonio Cassano has left the bright lights of San Siro and shacked up at Stadio Ennio Tardini.
That then, just leaves Milan. The Rossoneri. ‘The Most Successful Club in World Football,’ as they so often tell everyone. Rumours have been circulating all summer over potential signings for Massimiliano Allegri’s men. Ilicic was on the verge of a transfer, but chose the Viola instead. Adem Ljajic was meant to be on his way, but Robinho stayed put and the deal was off. Keisuke Honda has been signalling his intent to sign for the Diavolo for months – so far, nothing.
Some fans may bemoan the lack of ‘names’ coming into the club, but in this age of upheaval for the Italian top flight, is it in fact a good thing? With so many top teams making huge changes this summer, will Milan’s squad and managerial consistency actually be to their advantage in 2013-14?
We saw last season that the departures of Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Thiago Silva, Pippo Inzaghi and a number of legends affected the team in a huge way. By October, losses to Udinese, Atalanta, Lazio, Inter and Sampdoria had all but ended their Scudetto challenge. But just one defeat post-Christmas showed the Rossoneri faithful that there was still something to shout about.
Mattia De Sciglio is a year older, Stephan El Shaarawy has a campaign under his belt. If the Confederations Cup is anything to go by, Mario Balotelli is as sharp as ever. This young team has gotten over the shock of losing a dozen of their best players and proved in the second half of last term that they are a match for anyone.
All this, added to the fact that Silvio Berlusconi stuck with Coach Allegri is proof positive that the Diavolo can challenge for the title come August, no matter who they do – or don’t – sign this summer.