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Open Thread: The Game That Isn't

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As Serie A decided to take the weekend off, Hurricane Tropical Storm Irene decided to make herself at home, and I'm left sitting and watching Arsenal being completely thumped by Manchester United.

There's no calcio, it's cloudy outside, but the silver lining is that Conte gets to work with his tame a bit more before the opening game against Udinese. Since next weekend is an international break, the soonest we can see that happen is in a fortnight (sorry, still in "Jack" mode). With knocks of various degrees to Matri, Krasic, Quagliarella, Vucinic, etc., it will give some key players time to return to fitness.  And it will also give us a chance to hopefully complete our team.  Which brings me to my next point.

Before last week we were told 2-3 more players would arrive.  Well, Giaccherini and Estigarribia have arrived, and I can only pray that they're merely depth signings like I initially believed.  By late last week, I was becoming skeptical that these comprised 2 of the 3.  Right now it's not clear.

Giacherini isn't a terrible signing by any means.  People have accused him of being a marginal, provincial player, but think about what everyone thought of Matri around 365 days ago today -- a whole lot of nothing.  To put it another way -- remember in 2002 when a young Argentinian journeyman completed a journey which began in Mexico, through Verona, and ended up in Turin, with a similar skill set and stature at a similar age?

Before you go crazy, Giaccherini likely isn't going to wind up being the lightning-in-a-bottle signing that Camoranesi was, nor will he likely have the impact that Matri did last year.  However, he and Estigarribia can both provide depth that LDN didn't have for his system which was also heavily reliant on wingers.  Plus, Giaccherini's arrival means the departure of Jorge Martinez, who may or may not even be alive at this point.

Now, if Giacharribia ends up being the answer to our left wing problems, I'm not going to be so kind or optimistic.  I'm already at my witts end with Marotta.  I've said it before and I will again.  Take Vucinic -- a nice player, but he's neither Aguero, nor Rossi, while being older and thus meaning little to no resale value.  From a football and business perspective, that was a huge disappointment.  But what happens with the rest of the team is crucial.  Last year the final pieces of the puzzle before the summer market ended were Rinaudo and Traore.  We all saw how well that ended.  That simply won't do this year if we truly want to be competitive and achieve a top-3 finish.

Which brings me to rumors leading up to this weekend:

  • There have been rumblings that Spalletti wants to add more Italian flair at Zenit St. Petersburg by bringing in Simone Pepe and Leonardo Bonucci to join Domenico Criscito and Alessandro Rosino.  It's currently being reported that Pepe is on his way over (making the above-two signings that much more crucial), with Bonucci at least willing to make the move.  I'm not sure that a move is even in the pipeline, but I think selling Bonucci at this point would be a mistake.  Give him more time to gel with Chiellini, especially with competent wingbacks -- the lack thereof being the single biggest reason for the defensive lapses of last season.  Plus, Bonucci could be a prototypical Conte-type defender.  To selling the 24-year-old, I say nay -- especially if even if it means missing out on the 29-year-old Portuguese Materazzi Bruno Alves.
  • Meanwhile, Diego Lugano is yet another player to join PSG, while a move for Alex appears all but dead.
  • Continuing with defense, it's being reported that Juventus have agreed to terms with Brazilian defender Rhodolfo, and now need to work out a deal with Saol Paulo.  I don't know much about him other than he's Brazilian, so we know that he'll be nothing short of stellar in Turin.  In all seriousness, some people posted videos of him yesterday in the comments section, and I liked what little I saw (although highlight videos focusing on one player are never going to show the times where he effs up).  He also looks like he could play RB, which would provide cover should we need to rest Lichtsteiner, and Motta inevitably Mottas himself.  I don't know enough to give a verdict, but with Barzagli and Sorenson already on the books, I like our depth and options.  Although, I'd love to see Juve take advantage of the stalled Kjaer to Roma move, that seems highly unlikely.
  • Speaking of RB, Grygera is likely moving along to Fulham.
  • Juventus have apparently had a 14m Euro bid for Diego Perrotti rejected.  Apparently Sevilla are expecting a 20-25 m fee.  Hopefully this is true, because it means that we're still looking for a left wing.  Sky sports is currently reporting that a deal could still happen for Perrotti within the final 72 hours, a player whom I would be happy seeing in black and white.
  • Speaking of LW, according to Tuttosport, Eljero Elia is supposed to arrive in Turin for a physical.  Apparently, no deal has been struck yet, however since we're in the waning hours of the transfer market and next week international players will be off on national team duty for next weekends friendlies/qualifiers, he's doing a preemptive physical.  He's another player I wouldn't mind, and could allegedly be had for less than Perrotti.  Although he apparently did not have kind words for Juventus, I have noticed that the Italian media takes a bit of liberty with quotes that people make.  So I'll reserve judgement for now, and give him a chance to let his play do the talking if he were to arrive.

So here we are.  Hopefully we add a quality LW and CB, and last year doesn't repeat itself.  Marotta has a couple of days left to show us what he's made of.  As of now, I'm ready to slap the small-time, provincial DS label on him.  Sure, he's great at finding bargains and taking advantage of bad contractual situations.  But that serves you well at Sampdoria, not Juve.  To work at a big club, you need to be able to close deals for big players.  Between the sagas with Dzeko, Aguero and Rossi, his track record isn't great thus far.  But there is still time.  Prove me wrong, Beppe.