Since the introduction of the January transfer window, clubs madly hunt looking to plug any gaps that were highlighted in the first half of the season. Italy, on the other hand, doesn’t seem as frantic as other countries on the continent – the odd cheeky loan for a misfit at another club will suffice for some clubs looking to rejuvenate the place. However this season, with some clubs dashing for one of the elusive Champions League spots, in what has been a fascinatingly open season, directors and chairmen are looking to sniff some bargains which will help to strengthen their squads, in what promises to be a fascinating and topsy turvy second half to the season.
Milan, who stole a march at the top of the table following Internazionale’s demise under former manager Rafael Benitez, have made three incredibly shrewd signings to the season already. The incredibly enigmatic Antonio Cassano signed for free following his contract termination from Sampdoria after a row with chairman Antonio Garrone over an appearance at an awards ceremony. Milan chief executive Adriano Galliani pounced beating several other Serie A teams to his signature to add to the vast array of other attacking talent – Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Alexandre Pato, Robinho, Pippo Inzaghi, though he’s injured – however it signalled the ending of Ronaldinho’s career in European football, for now, as he went back to his homeland to join Flamengo. Milan also bolstered their left side with the smart signing of Urby Emanuelson from Ajax who will slot straight into the side dislodging the very average Luca Antonini who has recently struggled for form. Also, Mark van Bommel joins for a nominal fee from Bayern Munich to add some extra bite in midfield along with Kevin Prince Boateng’s enthusiasm and Massimo Ambrosini’s energy as Andrea Pirlo is really finding it difficult to adjust to the tempo of this revitalised Milan side.
Whilst the team at the top have brought in three new players, their city rivals have brought in defender Andrea Ranocchia from Genoa, a deal which was agreed in the summer for €12.5m. Being so far behind the rest of the pack, it wouldn’t be foolish enough to think Massimo Moratti would sacrifice a bit from his deep coffers to help propel Inter into a Champions League spot. With injuries mounting and the age of the squad increasing, Inter do need some fresh blood. News of Samp striker Giampaolo Pazzini and Cagliari beast Alessandro Matri being looked at by Moratti will give the fans something to cling onto because at the moment, the team needs some tactical changing reinforcements. Inter, it seems will sell Sulley Muntari to Sunderland and bring in Houssine Kharja from Genoa.
Juventus have brought in the hapless Luca Toni from Genoa, which as mentioned in a previous column, doesn’t answer the questions to the team’s woes. Another striker has been linked in the shape of Luis Fabiano, who hasn’t looked as good as he has done in previous seasons for the Andalucians but still produces a fine ratio this season – eight in ten in the league. Having missed out on Antonio Floro Flores on loan to replace the injured Fabio Quagliarella, Juventus may have to place all their eggs in the Luis Fabiano basket and hope the supporting act of Milos Krasic, Claudio Marchisio, Alberto Aquilani and Simone Pepe can provide more goals to a Juventus side which has more substance than style currently.
Lazio have brought in Giuseppe Sculli from Genoa, which prompted the nouveau-riche club to bring in the aforementioned Floro Flores. Sculli signs for a reported €3.5m and will provide something different to Edy Reja’s team, which is slowly starting to become predictable and easily containable by the opposition.
Sampdoria have tried to fill the void of losing Cassano by bringing in Federico Macheda on loan from Manchester United and former Middlesborough striker Massimo Maccarone from Palermo. Despite having a reasonable season last with Siena, Maccarone has failed to build on it with high flying and fast paced Palermo, scoring twice in eighteen. Selling Pazzini may not be well advised after all.
In bizarre news, promoted and possibly soon to be relegated Cesena have brought in the cousin of Lionel Messi for a trial. Emanuel Biancucci, currently from 1860 Munich, will have a few days to impress Massimo Ficcadenti. No pressure, then.