5 Worst Serie A Signings
Transfer season in Italy is never boring, but this summer there have been an astonishing amount of exciting moves.
There have been some star departures—like Edinson Cavani and Erik Lamela—but plenty of positive arrivals as well. Juventus and Napoli, in particular, have noticably stronger squads than last season, and should be commended for conducting a good mercato.
Elsewhere, however, mistakes were made.
Signing players always involves an element of chance, and come this time next year there will certainly be some signatures that clubs have come to regret.
But this early in the season, which are the signings that stand out as poor decisions?
Is Antonio Cassano one of the most naturally-talented footballers to ever grace a Serie A pitch? Probably.
Is he worth the hassle he brings? Probably not.
Fantantonio, as he's known in Italy, is a hard player not to like (unless you're his manager, obviously). He's sublimely gifted and his unique creativity and bravado on the ball are a joy to watch. Cassano is that rare breed of player who can change an entire game with one pass—and that's why he and others like him will always be in high demand.
Off the pitch, his influence is far less positive.
Since leaving Bari for Roma aged just 19, trouble has followed the forward everywhere he's gone. The talent that convinced the Giallorossi to pay €30 million for him has occasionally been on display, too, but often it's been over-shadowed by his darker side.
Still, his signing might have been worth the gamble were it not for the fact that the move for Cassano cost Parma the promising young striker Ishak Belfodil.
The Crociati got an ageing, troublesome star and lost control of an exciting young talent who played almost every game for them last season. Inter definitely got the better deal.
Fiorentina made several interesting moves over the summer. Signing Massimo Ambrosini wasn't one of them.
Bringing in the likes of Mario Gomez from Bayern Munich and Josip Ilicic from Palermo shows intent and a clear plan to build for the future. So too does securing the full-time services of the wonderful Juan Cuadrado.
Even bringing in the ageing Spanish winger Joaquin leaves some room for optimism.
But there have been a couple of less inspiring moves from the Tuscans this summer as well. The wisdom of starting the season with Neto in goal has been questioned, as has the sale of Adem Ljajic to rivals Roma.
The move for Ambrosini must be the strangest. He's 36, and though he was once a towering influence in Italian football, his talents have been waning for some time.
Milan made one of the biggest transfer blunders in recent memory when they let the ageing but still brilliant Andrea Pirlo leave for Juventus, but it doesn't look like they've made a similar mistake with Ambrosini. He served the Rossoneri well, but his time at the top is through.
The fact that his options aside from the Viola included a switch to the MLS or to EPL strugglers West ham reflects that.
He might get game time under Vincenzo Montella, and if called upon he'll do his best. However, it's impossible not to think that his place in the squad wouldn't have been better filled by a younger player who could contribute to Fiorentina's success long term.
Matias Silvestre hasn't looked the same since leaving Catania.
The Argentine looked OK after his move across Sicily to Palermo, but has been on a downward trajectory since joining Inter in 2012.
Now, he's become the latest player to cross the Milan divide, leaving the Nerazzurri to join rivals AC Milan on loan for the season.
In truth, it's hard to see why the Rossoneri bothered.
Yes, they need defensive options, and yes, Silvestre was once a promising player at the back and one of the most prolific defenders in the league in front of goal.
More recently, however, he's been a bench warmer. At Inter, he managed only a handful of Serie A games and watched on as Cristian Chivu—a full-back—deputised in the centre, supposedly his natural position. A more damning illustration of a manager's lack of faith would be hard to imagine.
Freshly promoted Sassuolo certainly needed to strengthen their squad, but signing Ezequiel Schelotto is not what most people would call an improvement.
Major clubs don't let go of 24-year-old players who they only signed the year before unless there's a good reason. In the case of Schelotto, the reason is that he's simply not good enough.
He wasn't able to hold down a place at Atalanta, Catania or even Cesena, where he endured a particularly horrible stint. When Massimo Moratti brought him to the San Siro last year, it was a move that was met with derision from many of the fans. Their disappointment proved well-founded.
Now the Argentine finds himself with yet another club, and yet another chance to prove his worth.
For Sassuolo's sake, let's hope he takes it.
When even your own fans don't want you to sign a striker, you should really sit up and ask why.
During Milan's first game of the season, the Rossoneri fans unveiled a banner that read: "Matri, no thanks." A follow-up banner then warned the club hieracrchy: "The defence and midfield need to be reinforced, there's nothing else for you to think about."
In all honesty, the ultras had a point.
Milan need defenders and a midfielder or two, but they've got a youthful, potent attack full of exciting players. It's difficult to understand what the arrival of Alessandro Matri adds to that, especially now that they've bagged Kaka on a free from Real Madrid.
Matri's record—or his apparent talent—does little to suggest he'll be able to trouble Mario Balotelli, Stephan El Shaarawy or Giampaolo Pazzini for a place in the starting line-up. Add Kaka and his fellow Brazilian Robinho to that and it looks like a list of five players who should all start before the former Juventus player.
It now also looks like a terribly crowded place for young M'Baye Niang to make an impact—something that affects the long-term development of a potentially great player at the club.
Kaka is a club legend and the fans will want him to do well, and forgive the directors for thinking of something else in this one instance, but Matri? There's be no leniency given on that one.