• Daniele Proch

Serie A Wraps Up Its Transfer Window. Which Clubs Can Challenge Juventus In The Scudetto Race?

Updated: Nov 5, 2020

~ Original article here!

The Serie A saw its most unusual summer transfer window come to an end on Monday, Oct. 5 at 2 p.m. EST.

Some clubs have been very aggressive in their approach to this transfer window, making a statement about their intention to compete for the title and terminate Juventus’s nine years of undisputed dominance in Italian football. The improved rosters of Juventus’s competitors suggest that the race for the 2020/21 Serie A scudetto has the potential to be the most unpredictable of the last decade.

Here are the biggest deals and transfer records of Italy’s top-7 football clubs, according to updated data from Transfermarkt.

Juventus: -€13.7 Million

Federico Chiesa is a Juventus player. Fiorentina have agreed on a deal with the Italian champions, who, according to Sky Sport, will pay a €2 million loan fee to have Chiesa join them the first year and another €8 million for the second year. Then, Juventus will have the obligation to buy out Chiesa if certain individual or team benchmarks are satisfied. The buy-out price for Chiesa will be €40 million, to which Juventus will have to add an extra €10 million in bonuses.

Juventus were able to finalize the Chiesa deal only after reducing the size of their players’ salaries. This was made possible by loaning out Douglas Costa to Bayern Munich, Daniele Rugani to Rennes, and Mattia De Sciglio to Olympique Lyonnais. According to reports by Calcio e Finanza and Eurosport, the three of them will save Juventus a net total of €10.3 million in wages in the upcoming year.

Earlier in the summer, Juventus signed midfielders Arthur Melo from Barcelona (who in turn acquired Miralem Pjanić from Juventus) and 22-year-old U.S. native Weston McKennie on loan from Schalke 04. The Bianconeri added firepower on top with the “Best Young Player” of the 2019/20 Serie A season, Dejan Kulusevski, who returned to Turin after an impressive one-year loan at Parma, where he scored 10 goals and recorded nine assists. Juventus also signed forward Álvaro Morata for a €10-million loan fee from Atletico Madrid.

Juventus’s rivals will try to exploit Andrea Pirlo’s inexperience at the helm of a professional club. His roster, however, is full of talented players, and it would be unfair not to consider them the favorite to hoist the scudetto.

Inter: -€13.3 Million

Inter’s choices during this transfer window sent a strong message to all Italian clubs: Antonio Conte wants to win the league this year.

First, Conte added depth to the mezzala role with the acquisition on a permanent deal of Nicolò Barella and Stefano Sensi from Cagliari and Sassuolo, respectively, for a total of €45 million. The Inter manager then refused to sign 20-year-old talented midfielder Sandro Tonali from Brescia and veer onto Arturo Vidal, a midfielder who knows very well the manager’s ideas: the 33-year-old Chilean international, who joined Inter on a free transfer from Barcelona, had played in Conte’s 3-5-2 system during their time together at Juventus from 2011 to 2014. Vidal adds athleticism and quality to a midfield that can already count on Marcelo Brozović, Christian Eriksen, and Roberto Gagliardini.

The most expensive transfer for Inter was right wing-back Achraf Hakimi, who joined the Nerazzurri from Real Madrid for €40 million. Conte further reinforced his flanks thanks to the return of Ivan Perišić from his one-year stint at Bayern Munich and the signing of Matteo Darmian. On front, Inter cashed €50 million from the sale of Mauro Icardi to Paris Saint-German and secured Alexis Sánchez on a free transfer from Manchester United. Sánchez is expected to be the first attacking alternative to Lautaro Martínez in the partnership with Romelu Lukaku.

The depth of Inter’s roster is frightening for all title contenders. The Nerazzurri’s aggressive approach to this transfer window suggests that they are going all-out in their effort to dethrone reigning champions and lifetime archenemies Juventus.

Atalanta: +€26.5 Million

Atalanta have been busy during this transfer window placing more than 20 young players on loan to lower-division clubs in Italy with the hope of seeing them develop.

Midfielder Mario Pašalić, who already has one goal and one assist in this Serie A season, was signed on a permanent deal from Chelsea for €15 million. There is excitement in Bergamo for Russian attacking midfielder Aleksey Miranchuk, for whom Atalanta spent €14.5 million, and forward Sam Lammers, who showcased his dribbling skills in the impressive goal that he scored in Atalanta’s overwhelming 5-2 victory over Cagliari this past weekend.

The most lucrative deal for La Dea happened during the transfer window’s final hours, when 18-year-old winger Amad Traoré was sold to Manchester United for €30 million. (However, he will join the Red Devils in January.) Atalanta also profited from the departure of wing-back Timothy Castagne, who was signed by Leicester City for €24 million, and center-back Gianluca Mancini, who was picked up by Roma for a €13-million transfer fee after spending the past season on loan in the capital.

Atalanta have resumed their season scoring waves of goals and displaying an entertaining style of football. With 13 goals in the first three games, they seem determined to replicate last year’s offensive performances, when they recorded the best attack in the league with 98 goals in 38 matches.

Gian Piero Gasperini’s men are definitely part of the scudetto conversation.

Lazio: -€21.2 million

Lazio have been particularly quiet on the market, as shown by the fact that manager Simone Inzaghi has not lined up any new player in the starting 11 of his side’s first three games of this 2020/21 Serie A campaign.

The most expensive deal for the Biancocelesti was the €17.5 million signing of center-forward Vedat Muriqi from Turkish side Fenerbahçe. In Lazio’s 3-5-2 formation, Muriqi is expected to rotate with Felipe Caicedo and Joaquin Correa as Ciro Immobile’s attacking partner. Lazio also signed attacking midfielder Andreas Pereira on a loan from Manchester United with an option to buy him out for €27 million.

Whereas Lazio seemed poised to challenge Juventus during last year’s scudetto race, depth proved to be the Biancocelesti’s biggest enemy in the final stretch of games, when they dropped from second to fourth place in the span of a few weeks. The thickness of this year’s schedule, which sees Lazio involved in the Champions League, might aggravate the problem of having to rely on a shorter roster than their fierce competitors do.

Roma: -€14 Million

Center-back Chris Smalling joined Roma in the last minute of Monday’s action. Smalling, who was signed for €15 million, is one of three defenders that the Giallorossi acquired during this transfer window, alongside Gianluca Mancini (permanent deal) and Marash Kumbulla (on loan from Hellas Verona).

The free transfers of Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Pedro, from Arsenal and Chelsea respectively, add experience and quality to Roma’s offensive trio, where Edin Dzeko will still feature as the “number 9.” Roma also secured Jordan Veretout, a midfielder with the healthy habit of scoring goals (he already has two in three games this season).

Paulo Fonseca’s side will look to improve last year’s fifth-place finish by focusing on the race for the fourth spot, which guarantees access to the 2021/2022 Champions League edition. The scudetto still seems out of reach for the Giallorossi.

AC Milan: +€35 Million

Milan concluded this transfer window with a positive €35 million record. The Rossoneri profited from selling Suso to Sevilla and Lucas Paquetá to Olympique Lyonnais and used that money primarily to secure the players who impressed during the last Serie A season. It is the case of left winger Ante Rebić, who scored a crucial 11 goals in 26 appearances in the 2019/20 campaign, right winger Alexis Saelemaekers, and center-back Simon Kjær. Milan also extended Zlatan Ibrahimović’s contract until June 2021.

A reinforcement for Milan’s current, and future, midfield is Sandro Tonali. For him, Sky Sport explains, the Rossoneri allocated a €10 million loan fee to relegated side Brescia and will have the option to buy out the player for another €15 million (to which they will have to add an extra €10 million if certain performance-based benchmarks are satisfied). Midfielder Brahim Díaz and full-back Diogo Dalot joined Milan on temporary transfers from Real Madrid and Manchester United, respectively.

Milan have begun this season in a very convincing way: they are three for three in Serie A and have conceded zero goals. Keeping a solid defensive structure will be key for Stefano Pioli’s men to fight for a top-4 placement, which would allow them to clinch a spot in the Champions League, a competition on which they have been missing out since 2013/14.

Napoli: +€41 Million

Napoli have been the most diligent Serie A club in their approach to this transfer window, recording a positive €41 million balance, the highest across all Italian teams.

They have signed promising 21-year-old center-forward Victor Osimhen from LOSC Lille for a club-record fee of €70 million. They also closed the deal for defensive midfielder Tiemoué Bakayoko, who came to Naples from Chelsea for a €2 million loan fee.

Napoli have impressed in the first two games of the season, netting eight goals and keeping a clean sheet in both fixtures. To an inspiring attacking side, Napoli combines a courageous style of football, as shown by the fact that they averaged the highest ball possession in the 2019/20 Serie A season with 58.5%.

Manager Gennaro Gattuso might decide to rotate his starters during the Europa League fixtures and channel all the team’s energies into the Serie A games. Do the Partenopei have what it takes to join the 2020/21 cutthroat scudetto race?

The next Serie A transfer window is scheduled to open on Jan. 4, 2021, and run through Feb. 1.

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