There has been several refreshing changes under Ferrara's regime, there were many times under Ranieri's reign in which he would never do things that everyone called for, such as switching player positions, or players' status within the team. Starters more or less stayed the same, reserves stayed reserves, etc, with notable exceptions to the strikers. For me, one of the changes that caught my eye was Caceres being fielded as a right-back, as far as I know he made his reputation at center-back and that substitution is one we would have cried out for under Ranieri but he would have never made.
The second which surprised me a bit, was not only starting Brazzo at left-back this weekend, where he performed admirably, but subbing De Ceglie over Molinaro on at half-time when Salihamidzic came off with an injury. Molinaro's position at left-back has been more or less secure over the last two seasons, although I would argue it is as much to Ranieri's preference for him as much as De Ceglie's injuries. Had PDC been able to remain uninjured for a few months on end, he could have given him competition. I was one of Molinaro's biggest critics in 2007-2008, though last season he sort of changed my mind. He is a decent fullback, defensively sound but offensively contributes little. Is he ideal? Certainly not, but he can manage for the time being.
Over the last week, reports have been swirling that Ferrara is indeed not satisfied with the fullbacks at his disposal. This summer it appeared he was unimpressed with De Ceglie and would push him to Napoli, their interest cooled off after his injury at the U-21 euros, or De Ceglie managed to convince Ferrara of his worth. (Given his sub over Molinaro against Chievo, possibly both) Zebina may be injured for a few months, who managed to slowly work himself back in the squad, and it seems pretty apparent that Grygera is not highly appraised by Ciro. Caceres performed well at right-back in preseason, but he seems more of a defensive right-back like Mellberg than an attacking one, not that there's anything wrong with that.
Cobolli Gigli's comments yesterday that Juve was still considering making moves in the mercato confirms the above suspicion that Ferrara would like changes. Grosso has been re-linked back to Juve after not playing in the Europa League qualifiers for Lyon in effort to not be cup-tied, supposedly Juve wants to pay 1million euro whereas Lyon are looking for about 2.5million. Grosso would be a decent signing, he has never really done it at the highest level for club, but Inter he was only there for a season, and French football is a wacky thing in its own way. At Palermo, well, he made his way into the Nazionale. He's aging, but I think at the club level it will be less exposed than for the Nazionale where matches are individually played at a higher intensity. A decent signing, but I am not terribly concerned with our left-back position.
The other player heavily linked is Brazilian right-back Rafinha, of Schalke for a fee of about 8million euro. As with Diego, I cannot speak personally about him as my knowledge of the Bundesliga is, well, whatever close to zero would be. You all know well about my disdain for South American footballers, but I would be satisfied with this signing.
Simply put, he passes all of my desired checks for a fullback. Is he young? Yes. Is he experienced? Yes. Is he offensively potent as well as defensively sound? According to reports on him, he is a good attacker, whereas his defense could still be refined a bit. We'll say yes. Is he relatively cheap? Given his age, his experience, and the club he's coming from, I would say 8mil is a very fair price. With De Silvestri definitively off the market, Juve may decide to go for one of these fullbacks, or given Grosso's price, perhaps both.
BUT- Should they arrive, we certainly need to offload some fullbacks. We already have 3 per flank- Molinaro, De Ceglie, Brazzo, and Zebina, Grygera, and Caceres. First on my chopping block would be Zebina. Ignoring my personal disdain for him for a moment, Zebina is particularly injury-plagued, has the highest salary of the fullbacks, is old, and I don't think that much of an improvement over the others. Molinaro and Grygera are competent reserves, should Ferrara choose to do so, with a mid-range salary, dedication, and young enough that they can serve us well for a while. Brazzo's contract expires next summer, and I have no idea if the team has any inclination to renew it, I would imagine not. Should either of them arrive, I would imagine Ariaudo would go out on loan, because Caceres is perfectly capable at center-back. Should a right-back arrive, I think he would be shifted in position.
Am I thrilled with our current group of fullbacks? No, but a team is never as perfect as you want it. I think they are "good enough," but should the management choose to go into the mercato, I would certainly have no complaints.