Chiesa, Romero and the top five Serie A signings of the season
Football hasn’t been immune to the financial damage suffered as a result of the Coronavirus pandemic.
As a consequence, there wasn’t many big movers and shakers in Serie A last summer. In a league that was already struggling pre-pandemic with rising debts and struggling to stay afloat with La Liga and Premier League heavyweights, standout purchases were few and far between.
However it’s been the lesser-known signings in the league that has stood out the most, with the few big-money signings not living up to their price tag thus far.
Here are the top five Serie A signings of the year:
1. Federico Chiesa (two-year loan with obligation to buy for £51m)
Chiesa initially struggled after joining Juventus, but has since become of the few big money movers to actually justify their outlay this season.
The player had made it known that his time in Florence was at an end, and that the only place he wanted to go was the perennial Italian champions.
Yet it took him a while to get going, as new and inexperienced coach Andrea Pirlo constantly reshuffled his formation to get the most out of his squad.
Chiesa’s breakthrough moment arrived in the 3-1 away win against Milan at San Siro in early January, as he toyed with Rossoneri left-back Theo Hernandez all game, and scored twice.
Chiesa’s dynamism has been in sharp contrast to the otherwise pedestrian style of his teammates, and Chiesa emerged as one of the only players able to hold their heads high following their dismal Champions League knockout against Porto, as he netted all three of Juve’s goals across the two legs.
Chiesa has scored 12 goals in all competitions this season, in addition to 10 assists.
2. Cristian Romero (Two-year loan with option to buy £13.7m)
The rugged Argentine defender has been one of Atalanta’s best defender this season.
Signed from Juventus on a two-year loan deal with option to buy in the summer of 2022, Romero has hardly put a foot wrong since joining La Dea.
His lightening quick pace is very much needed, in part because Atalanta implement a very high defensive line under Gian Piero Gasperini.
Romero, in shades of Paolo Montero, is very aggressive and seeks to win the ball before the opposing player does.
The 22-year-old has demonstrated on multiple occasions this season that he isn’t afraid to mix it up, regardless of what size or strength of attacker he is up against.
Romero is also a handful in the opposite area of the field, as he’s scored twice and provided the same tally of assists.
Atalanta will surely keep Romero once his two-year loan deal concludes, much to the disappointment of Juventus fans.
3. Achraf Hakimi (£34m)
The flying Moroccan was one of the most high-profile signings in Italy last summer, arriving from Real Madrid, and has just about lived up to expectations.
The right-back started the season slowly, as he got to grips with the demands of Antonio Conte’s 3-5-2 system. However, once Hakimi got in his stride, he has been scintillating at various stages of the season.
His electric pace makes him one of, if not the, fastest player in the league, and is reminiscent of Maicon’s swashbuckling days for the Nerazzurri over a decade ago.
His stunning run and left-foot strike against Roma in January was a perfect illustration of what the 22-year-old can offer going forward.
He has been defensively suspect at times, and it is a facet of his game that needs improving. Yet one imagines that if he stays at Inter beyond this season, Conte will mould Hakimi into an all-rounder, and could become the complete modern full-back.
4. Antonin Barak (loan)
The Czech international has quitely been one of the most impressive performers throughout the season.
Barak signed for Verona on a season-long loan from Udinese, and has been at the heart of Ivan Juric’s side, as they once again confounded expectations and are pushing for a finish in the top 10.
The attacking midfielder, along with Miguel Veloso, are the most creative players in Juric’s side, with their aim to produce the goods for striker Kevin Lasagna.
Barak has found the back of the net six times in Serie A this season, and has provided two assists, and is always a constant menace operating in between the lines of opposing players.
It remains open to discussion whether Verona will keep the player after the end of this season.
Barak found playing time difficult in Udine, and so may want to force a move through to stay under Juric.
5. Antonio Candreva (loan with obligation to buy, £3m)
In his Sampdoria unveiling video, it showed Candreva supplying hitman Fabio Quagliarella with food.
Whilst not supplying Quagliarella with food during the season, he has supplied plenty of crosses from the right-hand side.
Candreva joined Samp on loan with an obligation to buy, for a fee believed to be in the region of £3m, and has been one of the shrewdest pieces of business this season.
A model professional, and one who always works diligently, Candreva has marauded up and down the right-hand side this season, crossing with either foot for the likes of Quagliarella and Ernesto Torregrossa.
Candreva has scored five times this season, including the winner against Torino, and netting in a vital 2-1 home win against parent club Inter earlier in the season.
In addition, Candreva has also produced six assists for Claudio Ranieri’s side.
Although it hasn’t all went swimmingly for Candreva, as he and Ranieri got into an argument before Christmas, reportedly due to the player’s conduct, an out-of-character moment for the 33-year-old, and was forced to apologise to his teammates.