The market ends today, I believe at 19:00 Italian time, and there's apparently a ton of activity. Where do I begin...
- It was looking yesterday like Radja Nainggolan would not be arriving from Cagliari, at least not this winter. I guess you could say it was a pipe dream all along. Last week that Cagliari's president Cellino stated that he had a moral agreement with Juventus for this summer. Marotta, apparently wanted to try to push the issue early, but Cellino would not let him go without having a proper replacement. Reports about Juventus signing Parolo to then ship him off to Cagliari in exchange for Radja should have probably sounded too good to be true, as complex multi-team deals may be the norm in the MLB, but not in calcio. Shockingly, Marotta couldn't close the deal (I've never seen that happen before). Anyway, it's still reported that Juventus have the option to buy in the summer. We'll see what happens or if by then they'll move onto other objectives. It wouldn't be the worst thing if they did pick up that option -- Nainggolan is a solid center midfielder with massive potential at age 23.
- Despite missing out on Nainggolan, Juventus have signed Simone Padoin from Atalanta. Who? Yup. Padoin is a 25 27-year-old versatile left-sided player who can fill in on the wing, mezz'ala or even at fullback. Perhaps Conte's trend towards a 3-5-2 will continue, and he'll be asked to provide depth at wingback. Whatever the deal, he seems like too much of a different player than Nainggolan to be the makeup deal for missing out on him this winter. Right? Right? (*update*) I get the solid addition, Conte knows him part, but for 5 mill. Euros? Really? Couldn't that fee have been used to bring in Riccardo Montolivo early, instead of waiting for his contract to be up in June? Or could this mean that another team (maybe Milan) already worked out a pre-contract with Monty for the summer? Damn.
- Our old friend Vincenzo Iaquinta is on his way over to Cesena, making that three aging, want-away strikers off our books. While this is a necessary move, unlike Amauri I wasn't desperate for it to happen, and unlike Luca Toni, I have more fond memories of Vincenzone. Nevertheless, some extra fat needed to be trimmed, and our collection of 2006 World Cup winners is down one more. I wish you nothing but the best, Vincenzone. A player like him can make the difference for a team like Cesena searching for salvation. And, of course, the real winner in all of this? Giorgio Chiellini's nose.
- Speaking of 2006 World Cup winners, Fabio Grosso apparently refused moves to both Novara and Lecce because, you know, he's so effing good, and in his prime, he'd hate to waste his best years at such a small club. Amauri 2.0? You betcha. Now it's being reported that the MLS could be in his future. Whatever. I have such great memories of Fabio from the 2006 World Cup, that it's a mixed bag of emotions. I just know that the team needs to continue to get smaller in order to achieve some needed roster flexibility by this summer. One way or another Grosso will be gone as his unreasonably long contract will be up.
- Juventus is also looking set to add some solid youth to their ranks, as the old, dead-weight is slowly being lifted. Nicola Leali has been hailed as the natural heir to Gigi Buffon for the Nazionale and could be for Juventus as well. A transfer has been reported as probable all month long. Meanwhile, super-agent of death, Mino Raiola (the Italo-Dutch Scott Boras) has arrived at the Ata Executive di Milano to wrap up the deal for Ouasim Bouy from Ajax. The 18-year old Dutch-Moroccon playmaking center midfield is seen has having a very bright future, and is out of contract in June. I don't know too much about him, but I like everything I've read and, if he comes from the famous Ajax youth system, he's probably pretty damn good. Now he's all ours to waste on the bench and/or buried in the primavera for the future!
- Finally, our good friend Milos Krasic could be on his way out the door. He's been left home for today's match against Parma, despite not being injured, and having been on the bench on Saturday versus Udinese. Reports are now naming Luciano Spalletti's Zenit St. Petersburg as a possible destination. If this is true, so long, Meelosh. I really wish that it had ended differently but, as time went on, it seemed more and more that you were built for Gigi Delneri's counter-attacking football rather than Antonio Conte's possession-heavy, attacking, pressing style. Obviously I prefer the latter style, so perhaps it's simply time to move on. Can we bring in Domenico Criscito to play wingback, with the trend towards a 3-5-2? No, seriously, I'm asking if we can. But that's not going to happen either. But I digress. Best of luck, Meelosh.
- (*update*) Forgot to mention earlier, but Michele Pazienza is on his way to Udinese on loan for the end of the season. Meanwhile, we've sold 21-year old attacker Ciro Immobile to Genoa for 6.7 mill Euros, before buying half his rights back for 3.3. The net result is a co-ownership agreement for our promising young attacker, who has outgrown Serie B and Pescara, but wouldn't find space to play at Juventus, and for a decent amount of cash. (That's right, Italians are all about efficiency and cutting out extra steps).
Have at it, folks.