It is early in January and clubs are in full swing, making moves to improve their respective clubs for the second half of the season. No matter what league it is, everyone is aiming to either win a league title or at least earn a spot in the UEFA Champions League for the 2011-12 season.
Things took a big turn in Italy this week. Legendary club Juventus had already been in the news because it had been looking to improve its already strong attack.
But then Fabio Quagliarella tore his anterior cruciate ligament just minutes after kickoff on Thursday when Juventus hosted Parma.
Quagliarella had done well since joining from his hometown Napoli on loan following an impressive World Cup, scoring nine goals in Serie A, none of which were penalties.
But the injury could complicate matters. Because Quagliarella was loan, Juventus does not have to pick up the option to purchase him outright. This means Quagliarella could return to Napoli at the end of the season. Napoli plays host to Juventus on Sunday.
When Quagliarella left Napoli for Juventus, the Neapolitans replaced him with Edinson Cavani, who arrived on loan from Palermo.
Cavani has been equally impressive for Napoli, scoring 10 times thus far in Serie A.
Napoli made the move in the summer because the club felt Quagliarella’s characteristics were that of a "second forward" and he was similar to teammate Ezequiel Lavezzi. Cavani is thought of as more of a pure center forward.
A day after Quagliarella was determined to be out for the year, Juventus picked up veteran Luca Toni. But Juventus sporting director Giuseppe Marotta said Toni was not brought in as a replacement for Quagliarella. That seems to make sense since Toni is a pure center forward and Juventus’ two other center forwards—Vincenzo Iaquinta and Amauri—have both struggled with injuries all season.
Quagliarella’s injury has left Juventus to insert its captain, 36-year-old Alessandro Del Piero, back into the starting lineup. Del Piero has actually done well this season and in recent seasons in a reduced role.
Juventus are now considering whether or not Del Piero can be counted as a starter for the rest of the season, or if it should seek some assistance. The Bianconeri this week also lost out of acquiring center forward Edin Dzeko from German side Wolfsburg. Dzeko had publicly expressed a desire to play in Serie A, but ended up with Manchester City.
One stumbling block that is believed to have held up the move is that Dzeko would have had to join the club in June because rules in Italy limit Serie A clubs to sign just one non-European Union player per season. Juventus has already signed Serbian Milos Krasic.
So what everyone will be waiting for in June is to see whether or not Juventus is willing to pick up the option on Quagliarella, who certainly suffered a serious knee injury. If they don’t, it could complicate matters because the money Napoli would receive in the deal is expected to be re-invested in keeping Cavani, who could also return to Palermo.
Meanwhile in Spain, there has been talk that Villareal’s Giuseppe Rossi is considering whether or not to sign an extension with the club because he is interested in joining Juventus. Ironically, he plays as a second forward, like Quagliarella.
Stayed tuned as this move appears to be turning into a soap opera.