In the world of crazy transfer fees and inflated values due to everyone’s seemingly bizarre obsession with all things Premier League, there lies one sleeping giant of European football that once housed Europe’s greatest. It’s Serie A.
In the 80’s it housed the likes Michel Platini, Frank Rijkaard and Marco Van Basten. Go back to the early Noughties and you had an AC Milan side that had such imperious names as Paolo Maldini, Alessandro Nesta, Cafu, Clarence Seedorf, Manuel Rui Costa, Pippo Inzaghi and Andriy Shevchenko. Juventus had Alessandro Del Piero, David Trezeguet, Mauro Camoranesi, Pavel Nedved, and Lillian Thuram amongst others. It was a who’s who of football brilliance.
Yet in recent years, perhaps rocked by the calciopoli scandal of 2006, which saw Juventus, relegated to Serie B and the the title going un-claimed. As well as the likes of AC Milan, Fiorentina and Lazio all being banned from the following season’s Champions League and UEFA Cup as well as various stadium bans and point deductions, Italian football has fallen firmly behind the likes of the Premier League, La Liga and the Bundesliga. Yet could this transfer window see a change in fortunes on Europe’s leg shaped peninsula?
Paul Pogba is leaving Juventus. As Juve try and wrangle every euro and cent out of the deal that will Pogba once more return to Manchester, Juventus went on the transfer offensive. Already have Juventus signed Miriam Pjanic from Roma for €32m, a sensationally good buy for one of Europe’s finer midfielders, but it hinted at life after Pogba.
Now the €94.7m bid by Juventus for Gonzalo Higuain adds flames to two potential narratives. Either Juventus are spending very big to replace Alvaro Morata but seeing that Juve’s bid for the Napoli star is over €60m more than the fee Real Madrid paid to re-sign the young Spaniard for, it is unlikely that Juve are that cash rich. Alternatively and much more realistically is that Manchester United are about to spend an unheralded amount of money for a footballer who is very good but if we are honest, isn’t £100m good.Embed from Getty Images
What this does mean however is that Serie A is flushed with a little more financial capital this summer. Whilst you can argue that it’s only Juventus who have such lavish riches but in potentially buying Higuain for €94.7m, Napoli suddenly have an abundance of money to spend this summer, exemplified by their very strong interest in Inter Milan’s Mauro Icardi. Sanctioning the sale of Pogba could potentially trigger a series of deals that totally in excess of £200m with it all staying in Italy and this is where the money starts to flow down and through the Italian transfer market.
What furthers this point is that like Spain, the Italian league doesn’t spend big on that next big thing from abroad. I was listening to The Spanish Football Podcast just last week with Sid Lowe and Phil Kitromilides talking about the architect of Sevilla’s recent successes in the transfer market, Monchi. What was being discussed is that Sevilla knew they can’t keep pace with the Premier League but what they can do is develop either a Spanish player, or buy in on the cheap a replacement, make them good and sell them on to the Premier League.
Paul Pogba’s transfer is the most extreme example of that around at present. United aside, Real Madrid would certainly be sniffing around the gifted Frenchman. Instead we have a player once of Manchester United who left for a nominal fee, been developed by Juventus and now is being sold back to Manchester United for a vast sum of money. When the Premier League is that cash rich, it makes perfect sense haggle for the last euro with English clubs over your best places because why do you have to negotiate? I mean West Brom is now potentially richer than the likes of a Lazio.
Italian clubs haven’t been able to buy the very best for a long time and maybe, not as thoroughly as Spanish teams admittedly in bringing through Italian players, tend to keep money in the country by purchasing from one another or buying out co-ownership deals shared with a smaller club.
With Manchester United spending so much money on Paul Pogba, and the domino effect of transfers that this circumstance seems to be producing, Italian football could well be flush with a shed ton more money this summer than previous years.
In a league once revered as being the best, it would be long overdue to see a group of Italian sides competing at the pointy end of either European competition. I mean you look at the list of players that just AC Milan had just over a decade ago and you can’t help but feel that the Champions League and Europa League are lack some huge teams due to how weak the Italian league has become in in the last 5 or so years.
Rich, The Sweeper Football Blog