It would not be summer if there were not at least one tantalising transfer that seems to prompt more confusion than clarity. So far in Italy, the winner in this particular category has to be Egyptian striker Mohammed Salah, the talented ex-Chelsea and, now it seems, also ex-Fiorentina striker.
Much as expected, 23-year-old Salah did not turn up today for the first day of Fiorentina’s pre-season training at Moena, high up in the Dolomites. Salah, who joined Fiorentina last January from Chelsea on loan in a deal that was part of the move which saw Colombian Juan Cuadrado move the other way, has already made it clear that he does not want to stay at Fiorentina.
Easier said than done given that Salah’s contract with the Florence club reportedly contains a renewal clause. Fiorentina argue that if the player does not renew with them, then they are owed €1 million euro already anticipated to Chelsea in expectation of the loan renewal.
Furthermore, Fiorentina will probably argue that in his six month spell in Serie A, Salah’s market value was greatly enhanced by his nine goals in 26 games for them. Furthermore, he scored one of the goals of the season in an Italian Cup tie with champions Juventus, a game won 2-1 by Fiorentina which marked Juve’s first defeat in the Juventus stadium for two years.
As of now, Salah is in training with Chelsea, although it seems unlikely that he will form part of the squad for Chelsea’s pre-season North American tour. Whilst he dithers and dathers, both Inter and Roma are watching closely. Gazzetta Dello Sport today claims that Inter’s Indonesian owner, Erick Thohir, has personally offered Chelsea owner, Roman Abramovic, €20 million euro for the player.
Here too, though, there could be complications. As compensation for the player’s failure to renew with them, Fiorentina may ask Chelsea not to sell him to a rival Serie A club. Media reports also claim that, by way of replacement, Fiorentina would like Chelsea’s 19-year-old midfielder Ruben Loftus-Cheek.
On top of that, Spanish club Atletico Madrid have also tentatively entered the market, convinced that they may be able to attract Salah with the bait of guaranteed Champions League football. This one could run and run.
New Napoli coach, Maurizio Sarri, underlined the arrival of a new regime last weekend when he turned up for pre-season training at Dimara (also in the Dolomites) complete with a drone. During a successful season last year in Serie A with little Empoli (15th, three clear of the relegation zone), Sarri occasionally used a drone to film training, obviously with excellent results.
Nor was the drone the only new element in Napoli’s training routine. Critics point out that Sarri’s training sessions last weekend were intense and at least half an hour longer than those of his predecessor, Spaniard Rafa Benitez. Now, when club owner, film tycoon Aurelio De Laurentis, told fans yesterday that “Sarri is here to win” and that “with him, the players will have to sweat”, was he thinking of anyone in particular?
For his part, Sarri avoided grandiose promises about the new season, saying only:
“It is hard to win at every level of football. I am just working to build a competitive team”.
We know this is a bit late but everybody loves to pick their team of the tournament. So here is Gazzetta Dello Sports’ Copa America team, as selected last week:
(3-4-1-2) : Ospina (Colombia); Medel (Chile), Murillo (Colombia), Godin (Uruguay); Advincula (Peru), Mascherano (Argentina), Vidal (Chile), Gonzalez (Paraguay); Valdivia (Chile); Vargas (Chile), Aguero (Argentina)