5 Serie A Transfers Which May Happen Before the January Window Closes
After all the hype and speculation, we are now in the throes of the long-awaited January transfer window.
Whilst the revolving doors of English Premier League clubs may have been quiet—with very little activity occurring—over in Italy, there have been a number of noteworthy transfers
With Cagliari's Radja Nainggolan the subject of bids from Juventus, both Milan clubs and also Roma (as Cagliari's Director of Sport Nicola Salerno told TMW, h/t Football Italia), it is the latter who have won the race to sign him. The highly-rated Belgian international joins on loan for the rest of the season.
Reeling from the news that their star striker, and Serie A's top scorer, Giuseppe Rossi faces a spell on the sidelines, Fiorentina have parachuted in AC Milan's profligate forward Alessandro Matri on loan for the rest of the season.
La Viola also acquired from the EPL, ending Anderson's six years at Manchester United to instead bring him to the Stadio Artemio Franchi on loan until July. After making just 70 league starts since signing in August 2007 (and only completing 19 of those games), it looks likely the Brazilian has permanently traded Manchester for Florence.
The coup of the month took place in Naples though. With Hellas Verona performing admirably in Serie A, Napoli raided them of their star player Jorginho, signing the Brazilian-born midfield wunderkind for an undisclosed fee.
Let's now take a look at five moves, either to or from Serie A, which may happen before the much-vaunted January transfer window emphatically slams shut in nine days.
This list has been determined by examining current transfer speculation and then assessing the probability of a deal being concluded by looking at the strength in depth of both the selling and the buying team (i.e. can they afford to sell and do they need to buy?).
Mirko Vucinic to Arsenal
Whilst Arsenal do currently lead the EPL, and they are in a great position to end their 10-year wait for a league title, concerns remain as to whether they have the firepower to stay at the summit.
Aside from Olivier Giroud—who has scored nine of the team's 43 league goals—there is a noticeable lack of top-class strikers within the Gunners' roster, something which may come back to haunt them.
Lukas Podolski has suffered bad luck with injuries, as too has Yaya Sanogo, whilst Nicklas Bendtner has been typically mercurial.
One player who fits the bill is Mirko Vucinic of Juventus. Following the summer arrivals of Carlos Teez and Fernando Llorente, the striker has been restricted to just eight league appearances so far this season.
Vucinic clearly has a lot to offer, as proved by his well-taken goal against Roma in the table-topping clash earlier this month. Known to thrive when using his power to hold the ball up for others, he would also provide a different dimension for the Gunners, who rely on creativity from their impressive midfield department.
At the weekend, however, Wenger distanced himself from reports linking the Gunners with Vucinic. Whilst he did concede that he is assessing targets, he maintained that the Montenegrin striker was not one of them (as reported by Sky Sports).
Wenger does have reservations about upsetting the "solidarity" in his team and so may look to conduct his transfer dealings in the summer.
If he does wait until then though, Vucinic may have already departed for pastures new. As Sky Sports disclosed this week, negotiations between Inter Milan and Juventus have begun as to trade the striker for the Nerazzurri's tricky Colombian trequartista Fredy Guarin.
Mauro Icardi to Valencia or Villarreal
Following Inter Milan's calamitous display in last season's Serie A, Walter Mazzarri was poached from Napoli and a summer overhaul was induced.
Renowned for having one of the league's oldest squads, the Nerazzurri set about purchasing young, hungry players who could form part of the team's quest to become revered, once again.
In came a number of players: 21-year-old Saphir Taider, 19-year-old Wallace (on loan), 22-year-old Ishak Belfodil, as well as 17-year-old Alessandro Capello. 20-year-old Diego Laxalt also joined before being sent on loan to Bologna, whilst 23-year-old Ruben Botta was signed this month.
So far, this policy is reaping dividends: After 20 games, Inter currently sit in fifth position, 11 points adrift of a Champions League berth—a marked improvement on last season when they finished ninth, 18 points off third.
One signing who is struggling to make an impact though is 20-year-old Mauro Icardi. Signed from Sampdoria for €6 million, the striker has yet to start a game and has made only eight substitute appearances.
Despite being bereft of opportunities, he does seize upon his chances, as proven by his two league goals.
It is this eye for goal that has piqued the interest of circling clubs: As Barcelona-based daily sports newspaper Sport revealed (in Spanish), a number of teams are interested in acquiring Icardi. These include La Liga's Valencia and Villarreal, as well as Wigan Athletic of England.
Of Italian and Argentinian descent, Icardi would probably favour a move to Spain, where he could speak the language. We also have to consider the fact his stock is high in Spain, following his time spent with Barcelona's youth system at their infamous La Masia complex.
Thomas Vermaelen to Napoli
With only 16 league games remaining of the 2013/14, Arsenal lead the table and have their best chance of ending their 10-year wait for a league title.
However, as collateral damage amongst this success and bonhomie, there is a player who has been dislodged from the starting line-up and may be tempted to explore opportunities elsewhere.
As Il Corriere dello Sport reports (in Italian), Napoli are purportedly looking into the possibility of bringing in Thomas Vermaelen, after the defender fell out of favour at the Emirates.
With Vermaelen having only three appearances to his name this season, Napoli coach Rafael Benitez—who would have witnessed the player's capabilities when he was coaching Arsenal's rivals Chelsea last season—sees him as the perfect addition to shore up his defence.
Having previously contacted the Gunners in the summer about signing the 28-year-old, the Partenopei are primed to return with another enquiry into bringing the former Ajax player to Serie A.
If Benitez is to bring Vermaelen to the Stadio San Paolo, he will need to act quickly: As Samuel Stevens of The Independent reported on Monday, the EPL's West Ham are also monitoring the situation and are hoping to bring him to the Boleyn Ground.
Whilst Irons boss Sam Allardyce conceded that their chances are slim, stating that he doesn't think "there's any chance we'll get somebody of his quality," the Belgian's pedigree and quality would help shore up a leaky defence.
Furthemore, with West Ham embroiled in a relegation battle, the nature of the challenge may appeal to Vermaelen, as he looks to return to top form ahead of this summer's World Cup.
Miralem Pjanic to Paris Saint-Germain
With Roma enjoying an impressive season and riding high in second place, we are left with the tantalising prospect that for the first time in three years, this season's scudetto may not be Juventus-bound.
It is unfortunate then that Miralem Pjanic, one of the instrumental players who has helped the club cultivate this success, told French media Telefoot (in French) that if big-spending PSG tabled a bid for him, he would welcome a move.
Signed from Lyon in 2011, the Bosnian international stated that PSG is the "only" club he would go to, should he return to France.
Whilst it is not immediately clear where he would slot into a team who possess a wealth of attacking talent, it is worrying for the Roma hierarchy that one of their players is becoming distracted.
Furthermore, with PSG yet to dabble in transfer activity this January, they may still wish to invest as to further their quest for an unprecedented quadruple haul of trophies.
Having already sold Marquinhos to the Parisian club last summer, Roma will be keen to avoid losing another prized asset to Ligue 1.
As French sports paper L'Equipe stated (in French) earlier this month though, Roma are reluctant to lose a player who has ascended to become one of the club's star performers—With three goals and four assists this season, the 23-year-old has been central to helping propel the Giallorossi up the table.
But, as we are about to explore, Roma are rumoured to be looking at other attacking midfielders—could this be because they feel Pjanic will push for a transfer at the end of the season and must now seek a replacement?
Gaston Ramirez to Roma
Whilst Southampton's form may have spluttered in recent months and they are no longer riding as high as they were—the Saints were third in early November—they still have a young squad, brimming with talent.
One of those players is the young attacking midfielder Gaston Ramirez. Plucked from Serie A at the start of last season, he has settled in seamlessly to life at St Mary's—this season he has made 12 league appearances, scoring one goal.
However, with all but one of those appearances coming from the bench, interest has grown in the Uruguayan international, particularly from sides looking to bring him back to Italy.
This interest has gathered momentum amid reports that Ramirez does not have a great relationship with his current manager, Mauricio Pochettino (as reported by The Mirror's Ed Malyon).
With Roma's sporting director Walter Sabatini known to be an admirer of the former Bologna midfielder, la Gazzetta dello Sport reported last weekend (in Italian) that the 23-year-old is on the Giallorossi's radar.
The guile and craft that Ramirz can provide, which is currently being stymied on the English south coast, would complement the defensive qualities of Roma's midfield engine room of Daniele De Rossi and Kevin Strootman.
Trailing leaders Juventus by eight points, Rudi Garcia's Roma will need every ounce of creativity if they are to topple the leviathan Bianconeri and capture the title.
The only caveat to this is that any lurking team who may be monitoring Ramirez or one of his colleagues will have to take heed from the fact that Southampton will not readily enter negotiations to sell their players (as stated by The Independent's Glenn Moore).
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