Serie A buy, sell and hold — November edition.
By Frank Risorto
Trends and patterns have now emerged across the Serie A after the first twelve matchdays and as much as our eyes would love to believe what we’re seeing deep down, and most likely subconsciously, we all know what our team’s fully capable of, for better or worse.
Do we believe Hellas Verona can challenge for a Champions League spot? Are Juventus well and truly out of the title race? Can Napoli sustain this pace? Are Udinese boring or simply warming up? When will Cagliari wake up?
These questions and more race around my head so ignoring my random thoughts, and it’s always best to keep it simple, using last months tried and trusted formula we’ll stick to ‘buy, sell and hold’.
And as per last month we’re not focusing on those we know are playing well, (the Vlahovics, Simeones and Barellas of this world) instead trying to find those who are perhaps flying under the Calcio radar.
Sergio Romero (Venezia)
The Argentinean keeper has made an instant impact in Venice pulling off a string of outstanding individual saves across his first month of Italian football.
Romero has brought not only his years of experience to Venice, but a professional and winning mentality to what is a relatively inexperienced side across the park.
After being released from Manchester United at the end of June the 34-year-old was unemployed and available on a free transfer and spent the off-season training in Buenos Aires with his own trainer.
His signing could prove valuable to Venezia come seasons end and although his signing wasn’t a heralded as a game changer, if his first month on Italian soil is anything to go by, and more importantly compared to the opposition goalkeepers in and around the relegation battle, Romero could prove to be an outstandingly shrewd purchase for the Venetians.
Gianluca Caprari (Hellas Verona)
The 28-year-old continues his one-man renaissance in Verona compared to last season at Benevento where Caprari had the odd individual moment of brilliance.
This season it’s a different story.
Caprari has more than admirably filled the boots of the departed Mattia Zaccagni, second in the league to Nicolo Barella for assists and if he keeps this up is well on his way to completing his best professional season yet beating his 2015–16 Serie B season with Pescara (38 apps. 13 goals, 12 assists).
Can Caprari keep up this run of form? The numbers and statistics say yes, and we very much could be on the brink of another miracle in Verona.
How does European football in Verona sound?
If Caprari keeps up this incredible form, along with that of Simeone, Barak and co it could soon be a reality.
Peter Stojanovic (Empoli)
The Slovenian arrived in Empoli with a wealth of experience in not only his homeland, but through his time in Croatia with Dinamo Zagreb.
The five-time Croatian league champion, as well as four-time Slovenian league champion, has proved an astute purchase for the Tuscans with his ability to play as a right back, centrally or as a right sided defender in a back three and looks at more than at home in Italy’s top flight.
Although at times his touch can let him down the Slovenian’s passing capability and confidence in his ability to play the ball out from the back is a highlight to his game.
Already, the reported 1M euro Empoli paid Dinamo Zagreb looks to be a bargain.
Josip Brekalo (Torino)
Despite the lack of investment Torino have smartly acquired certain players from around Europe’s top leagues deemed surplus elsewhere and one such player is the Croatian attacking midfielder Josip Brekalo.
Once heralded as ‘the next big thing’ of Croatian football Brekalo’s rise saw him make a move to Bundesliga side VFL Wolfsburg, and despite being given regular game time the Croatian never quite reached the heights predicted or expected earlier in his career.
It’s only early days but coach Ivan Juric has given Brekalo a clear idea of what’s expected and so far, the 23-year-old was delivering, before getting injured against AC Milan last month
“Yes, so far Brekalo has gone well, it was a market opportunity and we took it. He can do much better and I expect technical and progress from him.”
Prior to his injury Brekalo looked on the verge of a breakout, a common theme amongst Juric managed sides — his ability to coach and increase a players ability and value is close to unsurpassed at present, Torino will no doubt be exercising their option to buy for a reported 13 million euro.
Davide Frattesi (Sassuolo)
The Roman born midfielder has been a revelation for Sassuolo and is doing more than enough to have the locals asking, ‘Manuel who?’.
The 22-year-old, who wears the number 16 in honor of Daniele De Rossi, was earmarked as Manuel Locatelli’s replacement and has started all but one game this season for Alessio Dionisi’s side maintaining a high interception and successful passing rate.
Fresh off a in Serie B campaign with Monza last season Frattessi has done more than enough to prove he belongs in Italy’s top flight and alongside Domenico Berardi, Filip Djuricic and co.
Across all categories the youngster is high on Sassuolo’s leader board and his all-round game will only improve with maturity and some have already taken note, and made mention, of his progress this season including Azzurri CT Roberto Mancini.
Frattesi is Sassuolo’s second highest goal scorer in the league (3 goals) behind only Domenico Berardi, and his manger’s doing his best to curb his attacking enthusiasm.
‘He always wants to go forward; we have to stop him!’ said manager Dionisi earlier in the season.
Despite the goal tally, Frattessi leads Sassuolo for shots off target something he’ll look to improve on as the season progresses and if he can do that, he will only become more valuable to the side from Emilia-Romagna.
Perhaps soon the Neroverdi will have another addition to their ever-growing list of Azzurri representatives.
Cristiano Biraghi (Fiorentina)
Free from the pressures at Inter, Biraghi went on to have a solid campaign last season on his return to Florence.
Biraghi has built upon those solid foundations and has been one of sides most consistent and improved, a stark contrast from his spell in Milan.
The 29-year-old has appeared in every match the Viola have played and made the left-hand side of the Artemio Franchi Stadium his own and has stepped up on the responsibility front taking on a leadership role.
Leading his side in key passes, attacking runs and crosses, and not that far behind than any of his teammates in all passing categories Biraghi has taken his game to a new level under Vincenzo Italiano.
Samir and Rodrigo Becao (Udinese)
Following in the footsteps of fellow countrymen Danilo, Felipe and Edinho, both Samir and Rodrigo Becao are well and truly making their home in Udine, now in their sixth and third season in Udine respectively.
The Brazilian pair have stoically gone about their business alongside Nahuel Molina and Bram Nuytinck, and it’s no coincidence that according to the player ratings on various websites the Udinese back four features so prominently.
Without having the talismanic and brilliant Rodrigo De Paul to fall back on, Gotti’s side are as pragmatic and methodical, and at times simply boring to watch, yet one man’s trash is another man’s treasure and there are those that cannot be encouraged by the job Gotti and his band of merry men are doing.
The two centre backs are leading the way in key tackles, interceptions and shot blocks and just in time as well, as young Argentinean centre back Nehuen Perez, who made his season debut against Sassuolo, comes with massive wraps from across the Atlantic.
For the 21-year-old to gain a regular starting spot he’ll have to dislodge the two Brazilian centre backs, who along with Bremer at Torino, are consistently and quietly going about their business and could easily take the next step in their careers at seasons end.
Verdict: BUY (Samir) and SELL (Becao)