With pre-season training in full swing for most clubs the new campaign creeps ever closer. While the players are off to mountain-top retreats and engage in friendlies against local clubs, July is the time for the sporting directors to earn their money. As usual, most transfer attention is drawn towards Italy’s biggest clubs.
After conquering Serie A for the first time since Calciopoli, Juventus are eagerly anticipating their return to the Champions League. The class of 2011-12 was by no means the finished product, with Giuseppe Marotta and Fabio Paratici working extensively to add a mixture of quality and depth to the squad.
It is unclear whether any of Kwadwo Asamoah, Mauricio Isla and Sebastian Giovinco will be regular starters, but the trio, along with the experienced Brazilian Lucio, all provide that mixture and join a group ready to battle on three fronts. In Nicola Leali and the imminent arrival of Paul Pogba, Juve are also looking towards the future, but in their search for a striker, the Bianconeri seek a big-name reinforcement.
The potential crown jewel signing has seen a number of players linked, with Robin Van Persie, Luis Suarez, Stevan Jovetic and Edin Dzeko constants. The majority of the remaining transfer kitty will be utilised to secure their desired acquisition. Any arrival may signal the departure of a current striker, with Alessandro Matri and Fabio Quagliarella mentioned. Juve will also look to raise funds from the sales of Felipe Melo, Milos Krasic and Reto Ziegler, in addition to the already-sold Eljero Elia.
Following a disastrous three-Coach season, Inter have set about rebuilding on two fronts. In order to accomplish this numerous high-earning older stars have been moved on, aiding the rejuvenation process on the field as well as financially, with a significant saving already made slashing wages as financial fair play looms.
Lucio, Ivan Cordoba – now part of the staff – Goran Pandev and Diego Forlan are gone, with Dejan Stankovic and Julio Cesar expected to follow. Rumours also surround the future of Douglas Maicon, Wesley Sneijder and Giampaolo Pazzini. The latter has expressed a desire to leave, but President Massimo Moratti refuted the claim.
With their minimum aim to qualify for the Champions League, Inter have wasted no time in replenishing the ranks. Highly-rated Samir Handanovic is their new custodian, while Matias Silvestre joins after a solid season at Palermo. Rodrigo Palacio – 19 goals in 2011-12 – is a versatile and clinical finisher, critical given only Diego Milito reached double figures last season. Mattia Destro is another striker linked with the Nerazzurri after a fine season at Siena. Inter will also look to sign Andrea Poli on a permanent basis from Sampdoria and also welcome back from loan spells Brazilian duo Philippe Coutinho and Jonathan.
They have also waved goodbye to a number of veterans in the red half of Milan, as the Rossoneri look to go one better than last season. The nucleus of the first XI largely remains, but Milan have lost a high quantity of experienced campaigners in one hit. The average age of the squad is now just over 27. Talk at this time of the year is often contradictory, with Adriano Galliani declaring Milan’s window already closed. However, he admits to being unsure what will happen come August 31.
Like Inter, there are financial concerns at Milanello – to which Galliani has acknowledged – and this ensures Thiago Silva and Zlatan Ibrahimovic, despite their status as key components of the squad, have been subject to transfer speculation.
Money spent has so far been minimal. Kevin Constant is a loan signing from Genoa and Bakaye Traore a free transfer, yet another Bosman signing in Riccardo Montolivo could provide the craft to supplement Massimiliano Allegri’s midfield grit. Working under the tutelage of Silva is 23-year-old Francesco Acerbi, a player rated as a future Azzurri prospect but with just half a season of Serie A football under his belt, last term at Chievo.
La Gazzetta dello Sport ran a poll this week asking which team has reinforced best. The result resoundingly favoured the Bianconeri. Of the three, Juve were way out in front on 52 per cent, with Inter claiming 17 per cent of the vote and Milan 14 per cent. It reflects the opening to the window in which the Old Lady looks to be notably strengthening, Inter accepting the need for change and Milan attempting to stay in touch.
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