4 Serie A Clubs Likely to Make a Late Transfer Window Splash
Despite being given the entire summer to conduct business, league clubs notoriously leave it late before showing their hand and capturing those elusive, unicorn-like new players.
This year's transfer period looks like being one of the most competitive and one of the most affluent of recent years.
Having just passed the halfway point of the window, two of Europe's biggest strikers have already moved on for eye-watering sums: Edinson Cavani this week completed his move to cash-happy Paris Saint-Germain, whilst Falcao has also been captured by a French team as nouveau-riche Monaco secured his in-demand signature.
And this is just the start.
Speculation is rife that Manchester United's want-away striker Wayne Rooney will also be wearing the colours of a new team when the season starts. Borussia Dortmund's Robert Lewandowski looks likely to be departing the Champions League runners-up. And Real Madrid's Gonzalo Higuain is at the centre of a transfer tug-of-war.
As gargantuan sums exchange hands in France, England, Germany and Spain, can Italian teams get in on the act?
Juventus have paved the way for a flurry of signings by securing the oft-prolific, yet divisive, Carlos Tevez for just £10 million.
But it is looking likely that the majority of other teams, whilst undoubtedly requiring reinforcements, may need to sell before they can buy. This would result in a lot of sides not being able to do business until the latter stages of the transfer window.
Let's take a look at who these teams are and who they may plump for.
Following an imperious end to the season, when they won all but one of their final 20 games, the Rossoneri will be looking to pick up where they left off if they are to live up to their tag of being Juve's main title rivals.
However, it is widely-publicised that, to improve on last season's third place finish, AC Milan need to invest in several new players.
Their gutsy display against Barcelona in the Champions League quarter finals—when they very nearly outwitted the Blaugrana—shows they have the quality, they just need to bring in players who will not only compete for places but also provide much-needed impetus.
What Milan really need is a defender. Having secured the permanent signature of Christian Zapata from Villarreal, it is well-known they require players to compete with the ageing, and less reliable, Philippe Mexes for the central defence berth.
However, L'Equipe reports that rumours for Mexes' compatriot Adil Rami are far from the truth: The Valencia player looks bound for Borussia Dortmund.
With Robinho reported to be on the verge of a return to his native Brazil as Corinthians ready a bid of €10 million, the income will be re-harvested: CSKA Moscow's Keisuke Honda is a target, as is Fiorentina's Adem Ljajic, who will be tempted by the prospect of the Champions League football that his team so narrowly missed out on.
Both CSKA and Fiorentina, however, will not let their prize assets move on for a budget price, nor will they sanction a move before finding an adequate replacement. This could take time and it may mean Milan lose interest, which could result in backup targets being recruited by other teams.
If this does happen, the Milan team may choose to reignite their interest in QPR's volatile talent, Adel Taarabt: Back in May, Giscard Gourizro of Sky Sports stated that the two teams were in talks. With no firm bids yet to be submitted for the Moroccan midfielder, Milan could pounce.
One player who may interest the Rossoneri is Manchester United's Anderson. With a strong record of housing precocious Brazilian talents—from Cafu to Pato to Kaka—AC Milan could be tempted by a player who still has a lot to offer.
The 25-year-old is one of eight players rumoured to have been hoist into the shop window by new Old Trafford supremo David Moyes, and the midfielder would be available for a fraction of the €30 million United paid for him six years ago.
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With Rafael Benitez installed as their new manager—fresh from capturing the Europa League title with Chelsea—fans of Partenopei can expect to see the Spaniard splash the cash as he tempts top talent to the Stadio San Paolo.
As Edinson Cavani this week finalised his prolonged exit from Napoli—with Paris Saint-Germain outbidding Chelsea and Real Madrid to secure Serie A's top scorer from last season—Benitez has subsequently been bequeathed a bounty of over €50 million to spend on new players.
Daily Mail's Rik Sharma reckons that sum could be as much as £108 million.
The most pressing issue will be replacing a player who last season scored 29 goals for the league runners up. Despite finishing nine points adrift of champions Juventus last season, the Naples club will need to find a way to make sure Cavani's absence is not too cataclysmic and that they can remain in touch with the league summit.
One player who has this week been touted as being Napoli-bound is Cavani's fellow South American, Gonzalo Higuain. Having been deemed surplus to requirements by new boss Carlo Ancelotti, the Real Madrid striker looks certain to leave the Bernabeu.
Long reported to be on his way to Arsenal, that apparent move to North London has cooled in recent weeks: Despite personal terms being agreed, Benitez has exploited the uncertainty to make his move.
After already signing Higuain's Madrid teammate Jose Callejon, The Mirror's Darren Lewis believes that it is only a matter of time before negotiations advance for the double swoop.
If that signing is completed within the next few weeks, it could detract from the third of a triumvirate of striker signings.
With the Brazilian wunderkind Leandro Damiao rumoured to also be a target for Napoli, Benitez will hope that he does not leave it too late to sign a player who has been coveted by a number of Europe's premier clubs, namely Tottenham Hotspurs (as reported by the Daily Star).
One transfer which could trundle on is that of QPR's Julio Cesar. Keen to get the Brazilian goalkeeper of their books, the freshly relegated London team are dragging their heels over the transfer, as they are only interested in a permanent move, as reported in the Evening Standard.
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Following the installation of Rudi Garcia as their manager, there are high hopes for the former Lille manager.
After leading the scant-fancied French side to the domestic double two years ago—despite working with a minimal budget—everyone connected with Giallorossi, from the billionaire owners to the fans, will be hoping he can instil similar winning ways at the Stadio Olimpico.
Whilst Daily Mail's Simon Jones reports of a reunion with Garcia and his former charge Gervinho, these are not the speculated scintillating signings that fans of the Rome team will be hoping are the norm.
Despite the beleaguered Arsenal player's availability, it is the likes of PSV's powerful midfielder Kevin Strootman who are sought after at the Rome club: With Ben Jefferson of The Express declaring that the Dutchman, once chased by Manchester United, has completed a move to Roma, it is hoped this will signal a summer of strong reinforcements.
After finishing sixth last season, Roma have no European football to abate their faithful. It is this which may lead Daniele De Rossi to decamp from Italy: Jose Mourinho is a long-time admirer of the midfield general and the London Evening Standard's Simon Johnson relays that a bid of £12 million could be enough to, unwillingly, force Garcia's hand.
Any potential capture, though, may only come about once Wayne Rooney's signature has been secured by the Stamford Bridge outfit. This is likely to take some time so Roma may have to wait a while before securing the capital to sign a replacement.
One player who can be signed for a relatively low figure is Rooney's teammate, Nani. After six years at Old Trafford, the Portuguese winger has long suffered for consistent form: Constantly frustrated by injuries and a lack of game time, The Metro's Jamie Sanderson writes that talks have begun to take him to Italy.
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After a disappointing season, when the 18-time champions finished in lowly ninth position, this summer is expected to be a pivotal one for the Nerazzurri.
Having already dispensed with the unfortunate Andrea Stramaccioni after the managerial novice was helpless to abate their slide down the table, the arrival of Walter Mazzarri should instill confidence in the Inter fans.
Fresh from leading Napoli to second place, the man from San Vicenzo will be looking to draw on his 12 years of coaching experience as to steer the Black-and-Blues back into contention for European qualification.
With a squad who struggled for firepower last season, the arrival of Sampdoria's Mauro Icardi (as reported by Sky Sports) will be a welcome addition: Following his 11 league goals, the 20-year-old Argentinian has joined on a co-ownership deal. Having once cut his teeth in Barcelona's La Masia academy, Inter fans will have high hopes for the striker.
Another player who may be joining him is QPR's Loic Remy. Following the R's relegation, the London club are keen to shift the big earner from their books following his expensive January move from Marseille.
Daily Mail's Graeme Yorke reported back in May that the Frenchman was being considered by the Milan club but, as yet, no move has been agreed. With QPR due to start life in the Championship in only three weeks, a move may be prolonged.
With the 35-year-old Walter Samuel and 32-year-old Christian Chivu nearing the end of their careers, a central defender is high on Mazzarri's shopping list.
One player who has been mooted as a potential addition is Aleksandar Dragovic of Basel. At only 22, the Austrian has already won three league titles at the Swiss club since his arrival from Austria Vienna.
As Basler Zeitung reports (in German), the Basel president Bernhard Heusler is aware of Inter's interest and is willing to conduct business, granted they meet the asking price.
With no European football to tempt potential signings, expect Inter's transfer business to trundle on right until the end of August. Mazzarri will have his work cut out to entice the usual marquee signings that the San Siro faithful have grown so accustomed.