After becoming a Serie A mainstay, Chievo can now re-develop their team through youth, writes Billy Wilkinson
Rolando Maran’s side finally look like they’re willing to rock the boat in the way the club is set up. Since their promotion in 2008, Chievo have focused on short-term gain to keep their top flight status. They’ve chased after experienced Serie A players who are either fast approaching 30 or on the wrong side of it.
Chievo finished a not-so-bad 14th last season, and it could’ve been higher if not for the club winning just one of their last 10 games. Despite now becoming a mainstay in Serie A, they’re facing a serious squad issue that has been ignored for quite some time: age. Chievo’s average player age is 29.2.
Of all the players to feature in 15 or more games last season, only one of them was under 26. The aim for this summer was to target young talent within their budget. As evidenced by their business, there’s a mix of everything: mid-20s that can perform right away, young project players who can develop and will have a high resale value and then even low risk, high reward youngsters.
Alessandro Gamberini believes “a successful mix of experience, seniority and youth-driven players with great potential” has led to Chievo’s success in recent seasons.
For those who’ve caught glimpses of the Flying Donkeys over the past few years, the games are slow in tempo and lacking in entertainment. With that considered, Chievo’s transfers this season suggest a change of direction. Luca Garritano is the star of the window, being signed from Cesena for €1m, as the Italian winger showed promise at the Inter youth academy, but never quite lived up to his potential.
His signing could propose a move from away from Maran’s beloved 4-3-1-2, but his presence is sure to add creativity and pace to a lacklustre Chievo side. He isn’t a goal-scoring winger, with only eight goals in 98 appearances, but he’s certainly a player who can open up the field for his teammates.
Chievo’s other transfer business includes the chin stroking signing of Gianluca Gaudino. If the name rings a slight bell, it’s because he was a potential project under Pep Guardiola during Bayern Munich’s 2014-15 season. However, Gaudino’s potential never came to fruition and after a loan spell with St. Gallen, Chievo are taking a punt. If it pays off, Chievo get a midfield general with a high resale value, if not, then it’s only a €50k write off. Seems like a smart transfer.
Other incomings in Verona include striker Alejandro Rodriguez from Cesena, interesting 22-year-old left-back prospect Pawel Jaroszynski from Cracovia Krakow, and Manuel Pucciarelli on loan from Empoli with obligation to buy.
Maran and Chairman Luca Campedelli appear to be planning for the future. This is most likely going to pan out as a transitional/reloading season, but it’s been overdue for years. Whilst there will be eyes on how Chievo’s transfers develop, don’t forget about their current players. Samuel Bastien only featured in 12 Serie A matches last season, but the Belgian midfielder has both the offensive and defensive skillsets to evolve into a respectable box to box midfielder in Serie A.
Chievo probably don’t have the talent to break into the top 10, but they have far too much experience and quality to go down. Mid-table comfort is the name of the game at the Stadio Bentegodi, although this term they’ve got the Verona Derby to look forward to. As the season goes on, expect Rolando Maran to experiment with new signings and his line-up, because they’re always looking to sell at a profit.
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