BLOG ITALIA
Tuesday July 8 2014
Cole a concern for Calcio?

Ashley Cole’s arrival in Rome is the latest in a wave of older Premier League players heading to Italy. Sam Lewis expresses his concern.

Although the ink is still drying and the Press conference is yet to take place, it will be rather inevitable to read and hear the first words new Roma signing Ashley Cole will say upon his announcement, barring some catastrophic PR disaster.

‘Excited to be part of this project’, is a phrase that will nestle comfortably among new player hyperbole that Cole will probably include, alongside hastily researched mutterings about Roman history and the intention to ‘win trophies’, and how likely that proposition is for the former England full-back at his new home.

However, the specifics of that likelihood are rather immaterial. For all the shiny grins had between Lupi officials and the former Chelsea defender, it’s probably not the decent odds on Roma winning the Scudetto in 2015 that drew the man once nicknamed ‘Cashley’ to the Italian capital. It might have something to do with the reported €5m a year he stands to earn now he’s there.

It’s hard to criticise Cole - it’s a lot of money to be offered - especially if you’re unemployed like the Englishman was. It is however, a rather large sum for a club in a widely cash strapped league to offer a 33-year-old coming off his least impressive season in over a decade.

Cole’s arrival is the newest in a recent trend, joining former Manchester United captain and 32-year-old Nemanja Vidic in the transformation from free agent in England to well-paid in Italy. Patrice Evra, though still under contract at Old Trafford, is expected to follow to Juventus.

This aspect aside, though, Ashley Cole does fill a gap for Rudi Garcia and his Roma side, offering experience and a much more reassuring presence than the revolving door of full-backs that have paraded down the left-flank for the Giallorossi since John Arne Riise left the club in 2011. Neither one of Dodo or Federico Balzaretti have ability that even remotely resembles Cole on form, who was arguably the world’s best in his position as recently as 2012.

That said, the move represents a somewhat concerning transfer strategy on the whole, when the context of the League is taken into account. Provided Evra begins next season in Turin - as is largely expected - three of Italy’ biggest sides will have acquired three players who were cast aside by Premier League clubs.

Be it injury, poor form, money or pragmatism on the part of these three players’ English employers, the fact remains that they have ended long Premier League careers, ones that perhaps could’ve been extended in different circumstances. As a result of those snubs, Serie A is picking up the pieces.

Bar the occasional exception in recent years like Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Gonzalo Higuain, Serie A is now rarely the place where stars spend the best years of their athletic lives. It appears that there is a growing pattern that the peninsula is the place for the still-proud veteran, a respectable medium between the manic life of a Premier League footballer and the well-rewarded but incredibly dull professional existence in places like China, Australia, America or the United Arab Emirates.

It was once the other way round, the likes of Fabrizio Ravanelli, Gianluca Vialli and Ruud Gullit enjoying English holidays after a testing career in Calcio. The shift is notable, and concerning.

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Have your say...
Maldini's heir
I think the point is the vast majority of foreigners who are continually filling the team sheets in serie A are not going to be playing for the italian national team. Yes it is inevitable that the italian national team will include players born in Italy of Different ancestry, but if even these player have to warm the bench then I fail to see how they will ever improve the nazionale...
on the 9th July, 2014 at 12:56pm
The majority of youth team players will likely be Italian or qualify for Italy. If you look at Germany they've got players like Ozil and Khedira with Turkish and Tunisian ancestry. France won the World Cup in 98 and barely a player was born in France. You and fans like you are really going over your obsession with foreigners if Italy is going to catch up. I look forward to seeing players like SES, Mastour and hopefully Ogbonna contribute to the Azzurri and turn this mess around.
on the 9th July, 2014 at 11:46am
@ mm Vidic, Cole and Evra are all proven professionals who could help sort out Milan's defensive problems. I've no issue with signing old experienced players as long as they are the right old experienced players and in the right positions. My number one choice would be to sign a longer term solution like Astori or Paletta but anything which will help us to stop leaking goals and focus on our priorities I'll take.
on the 9th July, 2014 at 11:34am
People forget that football goes in cycles. The same teams/leagues don't always dominate. Once Brazil had the best national team in the world featuring in 3 consecutive World Cup finals between 1994 til 2002. Look at them now thier best player is an overrated young youtube sensation. Once they could field players like Carlos, Cafu, Ronaldinho, Rivaldo, Kaka, Ronaldo on the same field. Now they are relying on nobodies like Bernad and Fred. Point is football goes in cycles. Italy/SerieA wil be bac
on the 9th July, 2014 at 10:04am
...Clubs trying to get italian nationality for foreigners by any means. The point I make is the chairman along with the fans who go each week to support their teams are the ones who can make the difference ''I want to watch Italian players play for my team, if I cant I will stay at home''
on the 9th July, 2014 at 8:47am
mm I think even 5 foreign players is too many. It should all come down to the chairmen making a statement and giving our young players a chance not worrying about the financial side of things. The fans in Italy are also to blame most would prefer the braging rights of their club side winning than the success of the national team.
In the 90's when serie A was at its peak the 3 foreigners rule saw the likes of Milan have 6 foreign players all competing for 3 places.
on the 9th July, 2014 at 8:43am
Serie A is converted to nursing home ! Where it does not any attention to the young Italian.
Nevertheless Some people expect that Italy won the World Cup.
on the 9th July, 2014 at 12:46am
Oh he's back again?..I guess the medication has worn off after some time within this WC period! Funny that he was blogging after Italy beat England and not much blogging after Spain's exist. But I guess to him Spain's 1 WC makes him believe that Italians need to bow to them. Let's await the CL and see how many of these pathetic bloggers that only come on when there is something they believe is adverse against Serie A and the Azzurri.
on the 9th July, 2014 at 12:38am
@nicola
Give us a name of who you see as the 'future'?
'transition' is 5-10 years seeing gradual improvement. since 2007 what real improvements have you seen; serie A taken over by foriegners the obvious decline of italian players and the obvious lack of italians in any of the major teams- napoli field 1. Inter field 0. Milan field 3. Juve field 6 (which are all past their prime). Dumped out of 2 world cups in groups is no coincidence! Balo apparently being the best we have says it all really!
on the 8th July, 2014 at 11:50pm
Heaven forbid an Italian club should invest in young Italian players. This is why the national team is so poor, looking for a quick fix buy rather than trying to build something. This sort of signing is the reason Serie A has become a second rate league.
on the 8th July, 2014 at 11:26pm
Simple rule will change italian football in afew years- we must act now or we run the risk of never seeing a world cup in our life times again! No more than 5 foreigners per team on the pitch at anytime. Forget EU and all that - straight forward ITALIAN- and I dont mean adopted, landed, brought in, rejected from 1 nation and made italian coz they have an italian dog just good old fashioned italian- parents (1 or both) and born in italy. Simple. Brazil can keep jorginho and romulo...
on the 8th July, 2014 at 11:26pm
@maildini heir
Youd have liked to see milan go for the likes of vidic, evra or cole? Really? come on! Spent a whole season banging on about pointless over aged buys and you want milan to bring in more?? Is essien not enough? Or kaka? Maybe honda?
I get milan need to look defensively but come on. Milan have no Europe no real league hope another trainee puppet, I mean coach, and you want to add more foreigners of 31+ to that!?
This is our chance to use italian youth- not waste another year!
on the 8th July, 2014 at 11:22pm
Everyday i look on football italia morning in the afternoon and in the evening and so far all I see is 1 foreigner after foreigner, dodo, shaqri, moras, cole its just a continuous list of rubbish that italy really dont need. Its all good agneli digging into prandelli and abete, but he should look at the state of the league and start applying some rules before we are left with no options. The pool of good players for azzurri coach to choose is declining by the day with the more foreigners brought in
on the 8th July, 2014 at 10:28pm
This is pretty much the reverse of how things were in the late 90s - early 00s where Serie A players on their last legs went to the Prem on big money deals - Vialli, Blanc, Deschamps, Desailly, Mancini, George Weah, Djorkaeff etc.
on the 8th July, 2014 at 9:56pm
SERIA A ,is in a transition period which has started since 2007 and still going through today.....let's not forget seria a has been trying to balance their books and style of play for awhile, and while the LA LIGA AND THE EPL has been ballooning theirs.In less than 5 years we will be back on top, TO THE GLORY OF SERIA """A""".
on the 8th July, 2014 at 9:16pm
I completely agree with mm. A complete Joke foreigner after foreigner. I just dont understand why there is no pride in the attitudes of the clubs to do anything at all for their country or countrymen. I have to say I find it hard to watch Italian football because I dont feel like im watching italian football. Just a bunch of foreigner footballers.
on the 8th July, 2014 at 7:28pm
I love the hate, even if it makes no sense whatsoever. Comparing Serie A to America, Australia and UAE really speaks to your merit on the subject matter - seriously, Football Italia, what is going on these days? 6 of the 11 starters for Colombia in the WC are Serie A players. 4 players on the Argentina squad are from Serie A - all attacking players mind you. And I love the comment from Dominator, can't count Inter winning the CL because of JoMo? lol yes, because he was on the field playing. Joke
on the 8th July, 2014 at 7:07pm
Serie A is becoming a "transit league" from EPL to MLS.
on the 8th July, 2014 at 6:44pm
With Marcelo not making the jump, Ashley Cole more than likely remains -until he doesn't- the best LB in the world.

So, not really.
on the 8th July, 2014 at 6:17pm
The average young player has to go through hoops as there are so many older average players in front of them. The "been there done that player", seems safer but it has no longevity & has you constantly rebuilding your team. Since the great Mila team was broken up, what continuity have we seen in Serie A teams other than Juve? When the going gets tough other teams look around & know there teammates will dig deep, in Serie A you know they'll be in the MLS/China/Qatar/Retired next year.
on the 8th July, 2014 at 4:41pm
T - i don't agree with your argument. U are comparing Benatia's outstanding form at Roma not Udinese, hence the relatively low price paid for him. Ogbonna has not really been given a chance and the same type of Spanish or English player would start at €25m. The problem is we don't give our players a chance by not creating the environment for them to suceed. Look at Darmian, released by Mila, Candreva never given a chance at Juve or Veratti no one was willing to spend €12m on him.
on the 8th July, 2014 at 4:33pm
You should specify that the reported 5m a year are gross, not net.
on the 8th July, 2014 at 3:50pm
@DOMINATOR

Interesting how you're evidently reading and commenting on a league that 'sux' (or 'sucks' as the rest of us write it). While you're free to your opinion, the majority on here will agree that Serie A is for the more discerning football fan. Even though I'm a Milan supporter, I'm sure Inter fans would take offence from your comment on Mourinho winning the CL in 2010. Let me guess, you prefer the kick & rush of the Premier League? Or La Liga? Or is that what Sky Sports told you to do?
on the 8th July, 2014 at 3:25pm
To answer mm: "average" italians cost about twice as much as "average" foreigners, just take a look at what is being reported as a potential transfer cost for Cerci. Also, remember that Ogbonna cost as much as Benatia. It seems italian teams cannot afford to buy italian players, excep Juve, who do not mind buying italian players and letting rot on the bench.
on the 8th July, 2014 at 2:57pm
not needed a on form Balzeretti is as usefull
on the 8th July, 2014 at 2:29pm
The league is on a downnward spiral it will struggle to recover from. What is needed is a team that bucks the trend, develops its own players, has a long term strategy to play its own and is successful. These footballers cannot be as hungry as they once were and it really does not make much sense that Seria A is turning into a retirement home. The exact opposite needs to occur in needs to be more like a nursery nuturing and bringing through its own talent to have any competitive advantage
on the 8th July, 2014 at 2:17pm
Where did you read Ashley Cole is to earn 5 millon € a year? Various newslets have been talking about 37 000€/week and English tablois have been wondering his giant pay cut. Although I understand the worry about Serie A signing older players, I disagree about Cole.

Roma isn't yet ready to pay big transfer fees for multiple players at one window. The signing of Cole allows us to have a best left back we've had in years and leaves us money to spend on other areas.
on the 8th July, 2014 at 2:13pm
a good LB is hard to come by nowadays. Cole maybe a bargain, considering he is free.
on the 8th July, 2014 at 2:06pm
I think its terrible that this disastrous world cup a clear lack of real italian quality that our top clubs still see no problem in bringing in more and more foreigners! its n absolute joke. Almost every transfer that I read about is about another foreigner coming in.. what is the point? Please help me to understand! Whats the diffrence between an average foreigner and an 'average' italian? Surely it would be better to use the italian! Napoli, roma, juve, milan, inter all of them are to blame!
on the 8th July, 2014 at 2:03pm
Bigger concern for EPL in fact. Its a disaster waiting to explode - way way over priced players. Serie A has less cash but that is a golden opportunity IMO. Teams in SA need to be smart, especially Inter and AC as some of their buys have been poor. Serie A should take some notes from Bundesliga - less hyperbole, better investment, as good quality for less cost and improved team spirit. The EPL is losing the plot from La Liga's flowing debt.
on the 8th July, 2014 at 1:40pm

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