2010 Transfer Target Player Profiles: Simone Pepe

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Perhaps in the next couple of days, this transfer rumour will be put to bed. If steam was a requirement to get a write-up here on the Juventus Offside as a possible acquisition, then this rumour is the equivalent of an ancient Roman steam bath and certainly qualifies. With only the signatures apparently left to finalize this deal, the notion of Simone Pepe as a Bianconero is just a formality away.

"It's an important day for me. We have agreed on everything. I have to speak with Juventus, I am just waiting to sign," he told Il Corriere dello Sport. "Del Neri is a great coach. This is the most important chance of my life. When he used to coach me I used to play as a striker. When the move is all official, then I can say that this is one of my biggest objectives and the most important opportunity of my career."

Born on the 30th of August 1983 in Albano Laziale, a township of Rome, Simone Pepe grew up playing football within Roma’s youth system. In January 2002, the eighteen year old was loaned out to Serie C team Calcio Lecco where he appeared in only five matches. Then at the end of that season, the winger was transferred to Teramo Calcio in June 2002, another Serie C team at the time, where he found much more regularity and scored an impressive 11 goals in 31 appearances.

After that promising year with Teramo, Palermo signed Simone in a co-ownership deal from A.S. Roma for just 1,000 to help the Sicilian club’s push for Serie A promotion in the summer of 2003. In the coming season, Palermo finished first in Serie B however the promising youth was once again loaned out to yet another Serie B side in Piacenza Calcio in July 2004 because the club thought Pepe had to gain more experience before making his debut in Serie A.

During that summer, Palermo bought the second half of the player’s registration rights from Roma for an undisclosed fee. Palermo’s timing seemed to spot on as much like his time with Teramo Calcio two years earlier, Simone had another impressive season where he scored a career high 12 goals in 30 matches for the Piacenza outfit. In June 2005, Palermo recalled Pepe on account of Luca Toni leaving for Fiorentina and half way through the season Simone was introduced to his new Rosanero head coach, Luigi Del Neri.

The two shared little time together as Pepe left Sicily once again in the winter transfer window in late 2005 early 2006 for Udinese in a co-ownership deal. The right sided winger, who also spent some time being used as a second striker under Del Neri at Palermo, enjoyed a modest spell with the Zebrette before being loaned out again in July 2006 to Cagliari. There he scored his first Serie A goal against his former club Palermo to win the match in the dying minutes. Cagliari then bought the second half of his registration rights from the Rosanero before Udinese bought the journeyman’s remaining half from the Rossoblu.

There in Udinese, he finally began to enjoy some stability in his professional career. Since 2007 Simone has played 85% of Udinese’s domestic matches and scored 13 goals in 95 appearances. In Europe, Pepe gained some experience with Udinese’s 2008-2009 Uefa Cup campaign which saw them defeat defending champs Zenit St. Pertersburg 2-1 on aggregate. However their impressive run ended as they went down to Diego’s ex-club Werder Bremen then dubbed as “Italian Killer” since they managed to eliminate Inter and Milan from Europe that year as well.

“After starting his career as a centre-forward, Simone Pepe has since carved out a niche for himself on the right side of attack, where his ball-winning abilities have caught the eye as well as an ability to shuttle up and down the flank at speed. While not noted for his goalscoring prowess, Pepe works unstintingly for his fellow forwards, a trait that helped him progress from the national U-17 side to the U-21s, for whom he made numerous appearances between 2004 and 2006. An unexpected international debut came in October 2008, when Marcello Lippi named him in the side for the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa qualifying match against Bulgaria.”

For a rumored 10 million transfer fee, Marotta is trying to make this sum/transfer much easier to swallow, as it’s been designed to be paid out over a four year period at around 2.5 million per. Other news sources are including the services of midfielder Albin Ekdal, who was on loan to Siena last season, and primavera forward Ciro Immobile on loan to Udinese next year at no cost. According to many, the duo would have found it extremely difficult to gain first team experience this term with Juventus, so a loan deal could be beneficial for their overall development going forward.

[Transfer Update] It seems that the Milos Krasic transfer to Juventus is now just about as likely to happen as the Simone Pepe acquisition as both players have openly spoke about an offer from Juventus, and said they're confident that the deal will go through. Krasic, who was interviewed as he was eating with his Serbian teammates during a player lunch, had this to say about the potential move to Torino:

"The negotiations between the two clubs are still going on. I am hoping that everything will conclude quickly. CSKA has set a price, and we shall see what happens, but I believe that there will not be any problems, and everything will be resolved a positive manner so that I can play for Juventus."

"Juventus are one of the biggest clubs in Italy, with many fans who follow them. For my career, a move such as this would be very important. I know that Del Neri is the new coach, and I am very happy for this. His 4-4-2 system adapts perfectly to my style of play."

If you’d like to read the orginal version in Serbian you can find it here at Sportal.rs. You can also see a video of the interview if you want as well. Things are definitely heating up on the transfer front ladies and gentlemen. Here are just two of the transfers in the late stages of completion that we know about. Remember, Marotta’s always got at least one on the ball.

IERI... OGGI... DOMANI... SEMPRE JUVE!!!

2010 Transfer Target Player Profiles and Other Links:

#1- Milos Krasic
#2- Simone Pepe

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