The countdown begins…

By TGP, 17 August 2021

By now most have become settled, reluctantly or not, with the incredibly quiet mercato. Whilst there have been some comings and goings, all have been low key with many of those we hoped could be moved on, still stuck at the club, taking up space in the wage bill and roster.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BHwC9oa3qXA

The only (probably) major move remains Locatelli. A player we will probably end up procuring who could well prove a pivotal signing and finally add a creative, strong, dynamic fulcrum to anchor the midfield and beyond. In absence of the young italian joining, we may well end up with Pjanic and Ramsey for the role. And it is curious and positive to see Max trying to make use of both Ramsey and Freddy B in other roles, given we cannot remove them. Prudent and pragmatic as ever. Though I am more amused than buying into some praising Bernardeschi for his wonder goal vs Atalanta in a meaningless friendly.

One other potential but still unlikely move is the roundabout of strikers which involves Mbappe and Ronaldo. Whilst I am eager for Ronaldo to leave, as I feel it could offer the squad finances and manager an easier fresh slate of sorts, we are deep into pre-season and a handful of days from the season opener. Anything is possible, nothing is certain, as with everything in life, but I am assuming the evergreen wonder now remains. Which is far from the end of the world…

I am far from so eager for Ronaldo to leave that assume we will be stronger without him. Though would not mind at all if a late of churning of the cogs saw him depart and Icardi come in his place. Would just wonder where that left Dybala, as having a natural CF will push Dybala wider, which could be fine, if their movements were worked well together, and we could have Dybala some hybrid RWF and Chiesa at LWF, with Icardi/Morata through the middle. And yet, it is not assured that Dybala can be the force we all want to see blossom, if he plays through the middle. Either way, Max needs to get the chemistry right up top, and if he can do this, we could demolish most sides.

No concerns for me with our front line, and in the middle, I feel we could be strong or good enough with or without Locatelli to at lest regain domestic dominance. As Max will bring balance, which we have not had for at least a year, perhaps even more.

My only real annoyance with Cherubini is that he has not appeared to look to replace Sandro with a hungrier, proven talent in the LB spot. Juan has done brilliantly to convert into a mega effective RB, whilst adding to his defensive zeal. On the left however, we have had nothing for too long now. Sandro has looked for 3 seasons as if he is going through the motions. Offering very little in the final third. Some of this may be down to building tactically around Ronaldo, which very much effects the runs forward of the LB. Yet much of this concern I put down to the player. A jaded Sandro with a misfiring, albeit energetic Pellegrini, very much looks a weakness in the squad. In the modern game, fullbacks play always an important role.

The rearguard besides the LB slot seems solid and with enough options of quality. Impossible to talk with any confidence of a likely starting duo in the middle, given concerns over Chiellini’s fitness, but perhaps a mix of Bonucci/Chiellini/De Ligt is expected. We have fine options at RB, with Juan, Danilo, and even young Koni.

Between the sticks, I am happy enough with Tek and Perin. With my only hope that Max gives the italian chance to win a starting spot, if he can impress, for the chance to make the starting jersey their own, will bring healthy competition. And still, I bang on about how highly I rate Mattia, some reasoning behind which can be found HERE.

Felix Corriera has moved to Parma on loan, with that odd option to buy and counter option. Will be following his progress alongside Santo Buffon eagerly in the second tier. As for our other major youth talents…Rafia and Peeters seem set for loans to Standard Liege in Belgium. Dragusin may well be set for a move to Cagliari or Germany, again on loan. And as for Fagioli??? We know of interest from Serie B side Vicenza, and there are likely others. I am unsure if the absence of news of his impending move suggests Max is considering making him part of the first team squad or we are set to deploy him in the U23s and make use of him with the seniors. I would like to believe that he has shown enough in glimpses to make management sure he needs higher level football than the third tier, but will leave that for Max to ponder. He is another who there seems so little space for but would help with home grown in house requirements.

One who has impressed Max is Belgian born defender Koni de Winter. The 19 year old has rumoured interest from Premier League clubs Brighton and Saints, yet may well find himself in the senior squad given his versatility across the back line, where he can play LB, CB or RB. Even a jump to the U23s – from the primavera last term – will represent solid progress.

We face Udinese in a few days. I assume no matter how ready we are, we should have enough to win. And yet…there is so much more going on in the world. I could get into analysing, but will instead just leave you with this>>>>