Half-way through the summer transfer I want to give a brief update on the activities so far. Based on last season’s performance, Udinese isn’t really the hottest potato in Serie A with respect to player transfers both inbound and outbound. Nevertheless, there are always a few players going out and the hot topic for the summer was Allan. He was rumored out last season, but decided to stay. This year the saga continued with several of the Italian top clubs chasing the defensive midfielder. Napoli, whom from a historical point of view have had a good transfer relationship with Udinese, was the club that finally sealed the deal. Another speculation was Antonio Di Natale. That has been the case almost every transfer window for the last 5 years. This year it was either retirement or to have a spell abroad, where interest from both USA and Emirates had found its way to Friuli. Luckily, due to his passion for Udinese and scariness of flying, he has decided to end the career by completing one more season at the new Friuli Stadium.
The base of the Udinese squad is getting old; both Di Natale, Pinzi, Domizzi, Pasquale, Danilo, Cyril Théréau, Geijo and Karnezis have passed the 30 year mark. Despite having a “young focus” when signing players, they are often used at commercial incentive on the transfer market. Very few actually end up as a part of the base. I would pin point 3 players that helped Udinese to avoid relegation; Di Natale, Allan and Karnezis. We have lost Allan and Di Natale is pushing 38, so it is critical that something will happen during this transfer window in order to renew the base.
I will break down the positions based on the most used formation and give a rough analysis of current status and what is needed:
Stramaccioni didn’t get his contract renewed, but as a nice gesture from Udinese he was allowed to stay out the remaining the contract period (30th of June). Stefano Colantuono got fired at Atalanta after a 5 year run at the club, which is pretty impressive. I do not know much about Colantuono other that he is a tactician that likes to spend much effort to analysis prior to matches. New faces has been brought in to the staff and person dedicated to match analysis only, is something new I have seen on the homepage at Udinese. He brings more experience to the club and hopefully he will become a new “Guidolin” at the club. Only difference is that Guidolin had a pretty good squad to work with in the first place.
Among the clubs in Serie A, Udinese have probably the best coverage in this area. Karnezis was superb last season and with Scuffet, Romo and Meret as backup plan we are well covered in this area. Scuffet needs regular first team play at this stage of the career, and based on Romo’s performance so far in the pre-season, it is not unlikely he will be loaned out. Romo has so far surprised me and I guess the staff wants to keep him around to challenge Karnezis.
Players: Karnezis, Scuffet, Romo and Meret
This was the weak link last year. Domizzi was out due to injury most the season and had a really poor performance in the few matches he featured. In his absence, Piris was used as the left centre back with a small little degree of success. Danilo was consistent throughout the season and will still be the one to rely on, together with Heurtaux (if he is not sold). Heurtaux I expect to leave, but if he stays that will be very good indeed. Molla Wague is still young had a some good matches last season. He is one we can rely on as backup. Based on a formation where we use 3 centre backs, it is crucial we strengthen the defence with a first team player and not a “hot prospect for the future”. Both Naldo, Neuton and Bubnjic are set to leave the club.
Players: Danilo, Heurtaux, Domizzi, Wague, Piris, Neuton (if he stays)
Another area with good coverage. The right side will feature Widmer, whom had an OK season last year. Left side is still up for question as Pasquale is old and below average. Gabriel Silva was out most of the season due to injuries and had a struggle to get back into the first team. Edenilson has returned from loan at Genoa and will give Widmer real challenge on the right side. Faraoni is still in the squad, but is most likely to be loaned out or even sold. Ali Adnan is a newcomer, being the first Iraqian to play in Serie A. He is 21 year old and should be able to give Pasquale and Silva a real challenge.
Players: Widmer, Pasquale, Edenilson, Gabriel Silva, Ali Adnan, Faraoni and Piris (as an alternative).
Last year was all about Allan. He is now sold and we either have to rely on the players we have or do some serious moves on the transfer market. As per today, Udinese is no position to buy a player like Allan and we have to focus on the development of new ones. Both Guilherme and Pinzi are the best alternatives we have today. Hallberg can be used in a deep midfield position, but I don’t see him being able to step up to even get close to Allan’s qualities. Manuel Iturra has arrived from Granada, but this looks to me like a copy of the Hassan Yebda deal we made a few seasons back so it is a huge gamble that he will the one that is able to replace Allan. Badu is more a box-to-box midfielder, but can be used in a holding position if he grows a brain over the summer. He is most likely to leave the club as well, with interests coming from England. An alternative would be to move either Heurtaux from defense or Edenilson. Edenilson can be used in a more central position and the same can be said about Faraoni.
Players: Guilherme, Pinzi, Iturra, Badu, Edenilson, Hallberg and Heurtaux (as an alternaive).
Another are well covered with some promising players coming up. Fernandes and Kone will still be the ones to rely on, but both Verre, Evangelista and A. Zapata are good alternatives that will bring different qualities to the attacking section of the midfield. Pinzi has featured in a more offensive role. Gaspar Íñiguez is a newcomer and can be used in the same way as Verre. Not sure if he will stay or being loaned out to Granada. The primavera team also includes some promising youngsters that could feature as a backup plan. As per today, I don’t see the need for re-enforcements, if no one leaves that is.
Players: Fernandes, Kone, Verre, Evangelista, A. Zapata, Hallberg, Íñiguez
Di Natale will yet again be the player we have to rely on scoring the goals. Even though we have several options, there are not many candidates to score more than 10 goals throughout the campaign. Thereau is what Floro Flores failed to be; a good companion with Di Natale. He is a player that breaks up the defense and if he gets a clear shot at the goal, he is likely to score. Aguirre had a few appearances last season and could step up to give Thereau a challenge. Stipe Perica will still be on loan from Chelsea this season, but I see him as a backup player. He is tall and can be used as a target man, but with the signing of Duvan Zapata as a part of the Allan deal, I don’t see him as a real challenger. Geijo is way over the top and I expect him to either leave or to be used as a last option. Nico Lopes is also back from loan and is a player I would love to see in the squad for the upcoming season, but he is again rumored out where Granada could be the next stop.
Players: Di Natale, Thereau, D. Zapata, Aguirre, Perica, Geijo and Nico Lopez (if he stays).
Notable Primvera Players:
Perisan (GK), Pontisso (CM/AM), Armenakas (ST)
Allan – Napoli
Pereyra – Juventus (buyout clause activated)
Muriel – Sampdoria (buyout clause activated)
Basta – Lazio (buyout clause activated )
D. Santos – Atletico-MG
Naldo – Sporting Lisboa
Coda – Sampdoria
Nyom – Watford (was on loan at Granada)
Brkic – Carpi (loan)
Rovini – Pistoiese (loan)
Jaadi – Granada (loan)
Bibnjic – Carpi (loan)
Vydra – Watford
Stefano Colantuono – Atalanta (new manager)
Ali Adnan – Çaykur Rizespor
Edenilson – Genoa (end of loan)
Verre – Perugia (end of loan)
Nico Lopez – Verona (end of loan)
Iturra – Granada
D. Zapata – Napoli (2 year loan)
Gaspar Iniguez – Argentinos
I will update this posts as new information is provided regarding activities on the transfer market. When the maket close, I will come with a new post covering table prediction and a summary of the pre-season activities for Udinese.