Italian Serie A News, Results, Analysis and Features on Football Soccer

Gianluca Nesci On February - 11 - 2011

Transfer Window Leaves Prandelli Smiling

More than a week has gone by since the end of the winter transfer window. As players across Serie A continue to make first impressions with their new clubs, the debate on the winners and losers of the January mercato is in full force.

Milan, Inter and Juventus each made high profile signings prior to January 31st. In Genoa, the Grifoni continued with their recent scattergun approach, bringing in 12 new faces, while Napoli also bolstered their squad.

Nevertheless, the debate on who strengthened their team the most needs time to materialize. But the answer may very well be ‘none of the above.’ The biggest winner of all might just be the team that took to the field on Feb.9, at the Signal-Iduna Park in Dortmund.

That is where Cesare Prandelli brought the Azzurri to face off with European rivals, Germany. The match gave Prandelli a chance to work with many of the players who are plying their trade for a new club in 2011.

Giampaolo Pazzini, Andrea Ranocchia, Antonio Cassano and Alessandro Matri all made the trip to the location of Italy’s famous 2006 World Cup semi-final triumph.

In the past, the heavyweights of Italian football have often decided to promote foreign talent ahead of youthful Italian players. While Juventus have traditionally been the exemption, the signing of Diego last season immediately springs to mind. Inter on the other hand, are notorious for this course of action.

However, January seems to have brought with it a change in philosophy.

At the San Siro, both Inter and AC Milan were busy bringing in top quality Italian talent. The former Sampdoria duo of Cassano and Pazzini has arrived in the fashion capital, both making immediate impacts with their respective clubs. The latter will now have an even greater role to play for manager Leonardo, given the recent injury to Diego Milito. In defence, Ranocchia seems to be settling in nicely after an early string of matches where he watched from the bench.

Over in Torino, Matri endeared himself to the Bianconeri faithful with two goals in a much-needed victory over Cagliari.

But this trend of Italians playing for the biggest teams in the nation seems to go beyond the most recent transfer window.

Prior to the 2010-2011 season, Beppe Marotta rescued Alberto Aquilani from Liverpool, after an injury-riddled spell at Anfield, and also brought in Leonardo Bonucci and Fabio Quagliarella. The striker has more goals than any player in a Juventus shirt this campaign, despite not playing since his season-ending knee injury over a month ago. Bonucci, on the other hand, was beginning to form a solid centre-back pairing with Giorgio Chiellini, before the uncompromising defender was moved to left-back last week.

Playing for teams with true title aspirations every season, these players are bound to improve. In addition, they will now have the opportunity to match-up with the best in Europe when they take part in either the Champions League or Europa League. This will better prepare them for the pressure and quality that is synonymous with international football.

This is something that Sampdoria, Cagliari and Bari, for all of their positive attributes, were never going to be able to do.

Therefore, it seems that Cesare Prandelli will have plenty of reasons to smile come the end of the Serie A campaign, regardless of who lifts the Scudetto.

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