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The northern Italian city of Parma is located in the Emilia-Romagna province famous for its ham & cheese which provide substance to the rest of the country & indeed the world. Its football club is no different as it too has provided names of genuine substance for European football to feast upon for the past twenty years, a trend that looks set to continue as Adam Digby explains.

Once considered one of the ‘Seven Sisters’ of Italian football, Parma have always been a different type of club to the other regular members of the Serie A elite. Since they were led into the top flight by Nevio Scala in 1989 the Ducali have always employed a revolving door policy on their playing - & indeed coaching - staff. Unearthing some of the peninsulas greatest talents & nurturing numerous discarded fading stars back to full potential the Stadio Tardini has always been a popular shopping destination for Italy’s grander teams.

A list of former coach’s reads like a who’s who of Calcio with Carlo Ancelotti, Cesare Prandelli & Claudio Ranieri among the men who have sat on their bench, while the names of former players is a glossary of world football greats over the past twenty years. Lillian Thuram, Alberto Gilardino, Juan Veron & Giuseppe Rossi are merely a drop of the huge pool of talent that have moved on to some of Europe’s greatest clubs. Two of the worlds ten most expensive transfers of all time involve Parma as the selling club; Gigi Buffon to Juventus & Hernan Crespo to Lazio.

Pasquale Marino may have them playing relatively well but it is former Juve youth director Pietro Leonardi who has done a remarkable job, building a squad able to compete in Serie A by combining exciting youngsters with assured veterans like Hernan Crespo, Stefano Morrone & Cristian Zaccardo. This follows from him doing a similarly excellent job at Udinese, as well as being the man who convinced Paolo Di Canio to join Cisco Roma in Italian football’s fourth tier following his release from Lazio  in 2006. Perhaps his best work however is in bringing players on the margins of other clubs at very little cost.

Men like Antonio Mirante, a steady presence in goal, came from Juve where he was never likely to displace Buffon. Antonio Candreva from Udinese was a fantastic pick up & has settled instantly into the team, having a great impact on their performances in recent weeks. Massimo Gobbi is unlikely to win any player of the year awards but is precisely the kind of role-playing individual every team needs in order to function properly. The club continues its tradition of providing a home for some of footballs cast-offs such as Sebastian Giovinco, Valeri Bojinov & Alessandro Lucarelli who were all deemed surplus to requirements elsewhere but have begun to restore some sheen to their soiled reputations at Parma.

The reputation of il Crociati as a breeding ground come finishing school continues today & a look down their current squad list is as enlightening as it is interesting. Luca Antonelli is perhaps the best young full back in the league & has broken into the plans of the now Italy Coach Prandelli thanks to his impressive displays this season. He was close to a move to Inter this past summer until the deal collapsed at the last minute, but when he does eventually leave it will undoubtedly be at a huge profit. Striker Alberto Paloschi is co-owned by Milan & his return to San Siro would also seem imminent given the long term injury suffered by another former Parma man - Filippo Inzaghi, who said of the youngster recently; “If I have to be replaced then I would say Paloschi is the best placed to do so” - high praise indeed from the flag loving SuperPippo.

Last seasons eigth place finish may be a tough challenge to repeat & European football looks unlikely to return to the Tardini any time soon, but you can still expect to see a number of this squad in the Champions League next season. Parma may no longer be a member of the sisterhood, but with Leonardi to guide them through the transfer market they will continue to provide for those who are.

Adam Digby writes the Il Tifosi blog and is a regular contributor at Beyond The Pitch

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2 Responses so far.

  1. Jay says:

    They do make really good prosciouto in Parma

  2. Walker says:

    and I thought it was just cheese Jay, parmigiano reggiano.

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