With the signings of Pastore, Sirigu, Sissoko, Lavezzi, Motta, Menez, Verratti, Ibrahimovic and Thiago Silva, it’s fair to say that Leonardo sees the Serie A as a footballing equivalent to Asda. The two signings from AC Milan in particular, are a battle cry to the rest Europe; after conquering Italy, PSG have shown that they are ready to conquer the whole of Europe.
He was Serie A young player of the year in 2010, blessed with impeccable vision and an eye for goal; he was destined to become a Serie A great. However, when bags of Parisian Euros were thrown at his feet, he and his agent snatched what they could and got on the first train to Paris. The Argentine was PSG’s first statement of intent; it made the Parisians clubs intentions of becoming a European force explicit. He scored a career best 13 goals last season and nearly won his first major championship as a professional but he struggled to cope with the expectation that came with his price tag. The loss of such a talented player was the first seismic shock sent through calico by the wealth of PSG, and it certainly wasn’t the last.
Along with the loss of Javier Pastore,Palermolost the “New Buffon” Salvatore Sirigu. Although this was a much more understated signing by PSG, it was just as important. The 25 year old has been the standout goalkeeper in Ligue 1 for the past year and the €3.5 million may have been the best deal PSG have conjured up so far. What makes Sirigu’s move overseas frightening for Serie A followers is that it is highly likely that this Italian international grew up with calcio, but he seen that he could better his career in another country. If Italian footballers can no longer have affection for the Serie A, how can foreign players?
The signing for Sissoko for €8 million from Juventus was probably the only deal PSG could’ve made before they were taken over. Momo is a box-to-box midfielder and what he lacks in technical ability, he more than makes up for with his determination and heart. Unlike the other deals PSG have made with Serie A clubs, this was a good deal for both parties as theMaliinternational had many injury problems in the final season of his Juventus career. He has made a strong start to his PSG career and has captained the team on occasion, proving that he is a true leader.
Menez was another one of calcio signings made last year and like the others, he has made a very good first impression. The Frenchman transferred from Roma for a fee of €8 million, the deal was made by Roma to make room in the team for the likes of the incoming Erik Lamela. He is a player that can do extraordinary things with a football but up during his time inRome, he was unbearably inconsistent. During the past campaign though, he showed his true capabilities on a much more consistent basis as he was able to chip in with 12 assists in Ligue 1. Some calcio fans look back fondly on Menez’s time inRomebut with the loss of the prodigally talented Pastore in the same mercato, his transfer was slightly over-shadowed.
With all the calcio players that were signed by PSG in the summer mercato of 2011, it seems hard to believe that in the proceeding mercato only one Serie A player was signed. Originally of Brazilian descent, Thiago Motta became an Italian international after spending 5 years playing forGenoaand Inter Milan respectively. He’s a player that divides opinion, you either love him or you hate him; personally I think he’s extensively overrated and he’s a player I tend to enjoy shouting abuse at from the comfort of my sofa. Leonardo though, seen him as a player that could contribute to PSG’s title charge last season and for €10 million many felt that it was a small fee for a player like Motta. I feel obliged to point out however, that his signing was in direct correlation with the downfall of PSG’s title challenge.
The loudest of the “Three Tenors” was PSG’s first Serie A acquisition of the current mercato. Ezquiel Lavezzi is a dynamic player, with pace and unrivalled power, he can change a game when he pleases. During his time inNapleshe was the star man and scored some memorable goals; none more so memorable than his chip against AC Milan. He will no doubt make the attack much more unpredictable but signing Lavezzi was, although he is a great player, unnecessary footballing wise. Nene had a terrific season last year and probably does not deserve to be pushed out of the team by an Argentine who can sell more shirts. The sale of Lavezzi is a huge loss for Italian football.Napoliwho could have been genuine contenders for the Scudetto next season, look a much weaker team with Pandev instead of Lavezzi on the team sheet.
Italy’s future regista? Marco Verratti has been declared the brightest prospect inItalyafter an outstanding season in which he was the protagonist inPescara’s promotion charge. Gifted with an effortless range of passing and incredible vision he has generated great excitement around thePeninsulaand shown that he can be a future international star. At the tender age of 19 he is already mentally capable of withstanding the huge pressure that has been placed upon his shoulders; he has shown maturity during the mercato even though he has been linked to every big club inEurope. Juventus looked to have all but signed the youngster until PSG offered €13 million for the regista’s services. This is not a done deal yet, but if Verratti arrives inParis, the Serie A will be deprived of a player who can be a star for the next 15 years. The lack of faith that Serie A directors have shown in young players will undoubtedly come back to haunt them.
PSG look to have finally got their prime target. The key player that Leonardo wanted was a strong defender and what is frightening for the rest ofEuropeis that he was able to sign the best defender in the world. He was the indispensable member of the team which Galliani had to build the newMilandefence around. He held the defence together last season and when he got injured at the tail end of the campaign, we could see that without Thiago Silva, AC Milan are nowhere near as sturdy. This is a huge loss for not only the Rossoneri but for the whole ofItaly. A big name like Thiago Silva leaving the Serie A makes every club inItaly’s mercato much harder; how can Italian clubs expect to bring in big names when big names are leaving on a conveyor belt? To replace Silva, AC Milan will need to unearth a gem like another Maldini.
“Ibracadabra” is another player on his way to PSG that will be nearly impossible for AC Milan to replace. The difficulty in replacing Ibrahimovic, lies in the fact that the team was built around him so they need to find a karma copy to fill the void he leaves. Leonardo has done some great business with the acquisition of Ibra; more for the name than footballing ability I feel. When he is on form, he is literally impossible to stop but with Gameiro having a strong campaign, it is difficult to justify the signing of a big name striker other than for marketing reasons. Zlatan will also take the pressure off Pastore to be the sole creator for PSG which will allow the youngster to thrive under the radar.
“The valley of ashes–a fantastic farm where ashes grow like wheat into ridges and hills and grotesque gardens; where ashes take the forms of houses and chimneys and rising smoke and, finally, with a transcendent effort, of men who move dimly and already crumbling through the powdery air.” With the loss of so many talented players over the past two years, stadiums crumbling with age and stocks tumbling, the Serie A could replicate the downfall of the Eredivisie and become a “valley of ashes” if Italian clubs are not careful.