Paddy Agnew’s Notes From Italy: Thoughts On Italy’s Transfer Window

This was billed as the Italian summer when Dybala would be leaving Juventus, Icardi leaving Inter, Dzeko on his way out of Roma, Sosa destined to part with AC Milan, Milinkovic-Savic packing his bags at Lazio and much more besides.

Of course, Serie A has already definitively registered some important new arrivals – amongst the most obvious so far are: Welshman Ramsey (Arsenal), Frenchman Rabiot (PSG) and Dutchman De Ligt (Ajax) at Juventus; Uruguayan Godin (Atletico Madrid), Frenchman Agoumè (Sochaux), Barella (Cagliari) and Austrian Lazaro (Hertha Berlin) at Inter; Brazilian Duarte (Flamengo), currently injured Frenchman Theo Hernandez (Real Sociedad) and Algerian Bennacer (Empoli) at AC Milan; Greek Manolas (AS Roma) and Macedonian Elmas (Fenerbahce) at Napoli; Guinean Diawara (Napoli), Mancini (Atalanta) and Frenchman Jordan Veretout (Fiorentina) at AS Roma.

However, the suspicion is beginning to dawn that this summer’s Italian market has so far distinguished itself not for the many player moves but rather, perversely, for the moves that have NOT been made.

For example, your correspondent (and many others) have been indicating for months now that it was only a question of “when” and not “if” talented Inter striker, Argentine Mauro Icardi left the Milan club. Yet, here we are, in the first week of August, and Icardi has gone nowhere. Possible moves to Juventus or Napoli, or indeed elsewhere, have not happened.

For the time being, Icardi and his glamorous agent wife, Wanda Nara, are involved in a “cold war” with Inter, saying they want to stay whilst the club has already told the player that he forms no part of its future plans. The most recent development in a soap opera that has been running since last Christmas is the speculation that Wanda may be pregnant with her sixth child, three by Icardi and three by her ex-husband, the former Barcelona, Sampdoria and Vasco Da Gama striker, Argentine, Maxi Lopez.

Given that she may be in a state of “dolce attesa” (sweet expectation, pregnant), both Wanda and her husband are apparently reluctant to consider a move for the whole family, just at this moment. As part of their cold war, the couple have let it be known that if the issue is not definitively resolved in the next week to 10 days, then they are staying put.

Hovering in the air, too, is the possibility that even if Icardi does refuse to move elsewhere, Inter will not use him for the remaining two years of his contract. If Inter were to enact that threat, then the Icardis, Mauro and Wanda, might even consider suing the club, accusing it of some form of millionaire “mobbing”. As we have said many times, this really is a story that will run and run.

In the meantime, though, Icardi’s “work to rule” has potentially blocked a whole other series of transfers. As we know, Inter are interested in Belgian Romelu Lukaku but, before they could go down that expensive road (€70-75 million), they would probably like to have Icardi off the premises, problem resolved.

Curiously, Lukaku has also run into another reluctant colleague in the person of Juve’s talented Argentine, Paulo Dybala.  For most of this summer, the Old Lady has been trying to persuade Dybala to move to Manchester United, thus creating both the funds and the space for Juventus to buy a new striker, namely Lukaku.

Dybala has seemed distinctly uninterested. He came back to Turin from his summer holidays last week, bright and early to be ready for his Juventus club medical examination on Monday of this week. When he turned up at the “J” Medical centre on Monday, he received a rapturous reception from ecstatic Juventus fans.

Looking tense and preoccupied as he did the fan selfies and signed the fans’ shirts, Dybala clearly does not know what awaits him. In the meantime, United have understandably lost interest in a player whose heart was quite clearly not set on Manchester. So, he too, may attempt to sit it out, although without heading for an OK Coral type showdown.

Roma’s brilliant Bosnian striker Edin Dzeko is another player who has long seemed certain to be on the move but who, as of now, has gone nowhere. Here too, Dzeko’s family are reportedly not madly enthustiastic about a move.

Other, perhaps more critical, considerations may be the fact that the club most interested in Dzeko is Inter Milan, no less. New coach Antonio Conte has targeted Dzeko as his ideal central target man…but first of course, both he and the club must resolve their Icardi issue. Conte, by the way, appears to be following the club line re Icardi, namely that there is no room for him at the Inter inn.

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Furthermore, Inter and Roma, as of now, have failed to agree a price for the 33-year-old Dzeko, with Inter valuing him at €15 million, whilst Roma want €20 million for him. So, this one too, will run and run even if clearly time is getting tight.

The stalemate up at Inter, however, has had at least one positive effect.   With players absent, injured or otherwise unavailable, Conte has been forced to regularly use 17-year-old club youth team player, Sebastiano Esposito.   The “boy” has impressed Conte who intends to keep him involved with the first team squad and who predicts a bright future for him, saying the other day:

“Esposito is obviously very young… but he has a great future and he is growing all the the time. It’s good for him to play and train with the senior players and if he keeps his feet on the ground, he could have a great future. It’s up to us at Inter to develop him in the right way…”

Another positive “new boy” note concerns Napoli’s Macedonian Elmas. The 19-year-old ex-Fenerbahce midfielder, in his first real runout for the club, was one of the stars of Napoli’s 1-0 friendly win away to Olympique Marseilles on Saturday night. Whatever about some of their senior colleagues, Esposito and Elmas certainly looks like a pair of lads “going places”.

Final thought concerns two other talents. Lazio’s talented Serb Sergej Milinkovic-Savic has long seemed bound for a bigger club. So far it has not happened but, in his case, last minute developments cannot be ruled out. Good news, however, for another talent who had seemed certain to move, namely AC Milan’s Spanish playmaker/winger Jesus Suso.   Having  seen him in action in a couple of friendlies, not least against Man United in an International Champions Cup friendly defeat last weekend, the new coach at AC Milan, Marco Giampaolo, wants to keep him. All is well, that ends well?

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