Slamming shut just a few hours ago, the 2015 winter transfer window did not fail to deliver plenty of excitement and intrigue over the course of the month of January and first couple days of February. Not every club emerged with a host of good signings and sales, though. For every team that managed to capture an under-the-radar star, another one got stuck with a washed-up midfielder or let go of a key player for pennies. For every Suarez to Liverpool, there was a Torres to Chelsea. There have been clear winners and losers coming away from this mercato period, and while some clubs have pleasantly surprised, others have strangely underwhelmed.
For once the Rossoneri actually managed to pull of a very good period of transfers. Signing on six, SIX players, Milan addressed all of their needs while not weakening themselves with sales. Bocchetti and Paletta provide brilliant center back options, and with Destro the team finally has a quality forward without serious attitude issues. Cerci and Suso are excellent options on the wing, and the capture of Antonelli means that Milan have a solid left back to give an underwhelming Mattia de Sciglio some competition. Spending just over €5 million in total on all the players, Galliani has once again shown that frugality does not necessarily mean settling for less.
Both Milan teams having successful transfer periods sounds like something out of a fantasy novel. Against all odds and rational thinking, it has in fact happened. Inter captured two brilliant wingers, Xherdan Shaqiri and Lukas Podolski, as well as strong midfielder Marcelo Brozovic. Davide Santon’s move from Newcastle completed the foursome of loan deals for the nerazzurri, and with these additions Inter’s first team is looking more and more like a frighteningly powerful force under Roberto Mancini. Time will tell if these players prove to be smart captures, but for now, Inter have surely had one of the best mercatos amongst Italian clubs.
Although it would seem odd at first to categorize Fiorentina as a winner given the fact that they sold Cuadrado, the players coming in have the potential to outweigh the fallout from the Colombian’s departure. Alessandro Diamanti is a massive creative presence, and Mohamed Salah is a direct replacement for Cuadrado who although is a downgrade, represents an exciting Champions League-proven young talent for Vincenzio Montella to work with. Finally, Alberto Gilardino is a proven Serie A goalscorer, and should do well to fill the void that oft-injured Giuseppe Rossi and Mario Gomez have left. Most importantly, the payout from the Cuadrado sale means the club has plenty of funds available for a 2015 summer splurge.
Between unpaid wages, a poor summer of transfers, and sitting in last place, Parma have been a complete mess since their surprise 6th-place finish last year. Releasing their far and away best player Antonio Cassano and sending Gabriel Paletta to Milan for pennies, Parma’s critical situation has not improved in the slightest despite deals bringing Silvestre Varela and Cristian Rodriguez to the club from Porto and Atletico Madrid, respectively. One cannot help but wonder how Parma even expects to pay the wages of the new players when they cannot even pay the ones they already have. The departures of Paolo de Ceglie, Felipe, and Acquah, among others, have also done little to help the team’s situation.
Second from bottom Cesena have plenty of needs that should have been addressed, but none of them were. The club made a smashing zero signings in the winter, and cut loose four players. No activity for Cesena will surely prove to be a bad mistake, and in the end this failure to act has surely been the final nail in the coffin that condemns Cesena back to Serie B obscurity.
One of the lowest scoring teams in all of Italy this season, Chievo had a glaring need to sign a goalscorer, no matter how old or obscure. Instead, the club opted to send away two striking options (Maxi Lopez and Dejan Lazarevic) already at the club and sign Nicola Pozzi, of all people, as their replacement. With nothing done about the offensive disaster, Chievo’s stingy defense, which has conceded the 7th least goals in Serie A this season, surely will not be enough to save Chievo from plummeting to Serie B at the end of the season.
It seems both oddly satisfying and frustrating that teams at the top made good of the time available to them this January to sign players they sorely need, while those in the relegation zone just sat back and watched. It seems that those at the bottom have resigned themselves to their inevitable fates, but seeing clubs give up halfway through the season makes watching them play that much more frustrating. On the other hand, the abundance of great moves by teams near the Champions League zone means that the second half of the season is shaping up to be a very exciting race.