Leonardo Bonucci has left the Old Lady to join AC Milan in probably the shock transfer of the summer so far, apart from John Walters going to Burnley, of course. The fact is that Juventus has now sold two of the back four that won the domestic double in Italy last year, and was so close to adding the European Cup, too. Dani Alves flirted with Pep for a little while, but decided that Paris was a much more exotic place to play his football. Rumours of a bust up before the Champions League final between the two, and also a story about Paulo Dybala at half time aside, it does seem a bit strange for Juventus to sell Bonucci to a rival club in their own league.
The rumours of Champions League bust ups have been completely dismissed by all parties involved, but there are still plenty of other instances of disharmony that are hard to dismiss. During a game against Palermo, Bonucci and manager Allegri seemed to spend the last five minutes of the match shouting abuse at each other, even though they were winning the game. The next game was a Champions League tie against Porto in which Bonucci found himself on the bench. So, maybe the signs were that he was going to be shown the door, but that doesn’t explain why he was sold to a rival club.
AC Milan have had a very productive summer bringing in some much needed quality to the squad that finished 28 points behind the league winners last season. Andre Silva arrives from Porto to give the Milan side a proven goalscorer to play alongside attacking players like Carlos Bacca, who had been linked with a move to the Premier League in the past. Full back Andrea Conti has signed from Atalanta for £21 million and Lucas Biglia, a defensive midfielder, signed from Lazio for £17 million. Perhaps the biggest piece of business however, was keeping much sought after goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma. The 18 year old spent most of the Summer seeming like a man on the way out of Milan, with Liverpool strangely enough looking like a possible destination. As with a lot of these transfer stories, it could all have been solved so easily without Twitter and Instagram. A game of cryptic messaging involving Donnarumma and his agent, (everyone’s agent) Mino Raiola, got out of hand before the 18 year old showed who was the most mature amongst all these adults and sat down with AC Milan representatives and sorted out his future. Donnarumma signed a new five year deal ending the ridiculousness.
The champions, Juventus, had been relatively quiet in the transfer window up to this week, with only Juan Cuadrado, Medhi Benatia, Rodrigo Bentancur and Douglas Costa on loan being the key signings. Cuadrado and Benatia spent last season on loan with Juventus so would hardly be a massive addition to the squad, Bentancour is a young player that has been signed from Boca Juniors so will hardly be expected to fall straight into the first team, Douglas Costa has had a troublesome time at Bayern Munich and has signed a season long loan with an option to make the deal permanent next Summer. In the last week, Mattea De Sciglio has arrived for £10.2 million from AC Milan, Wojciech Szczesny has arrived from Arsenal after spending a season on loan at Roma, and Ferarico Bernadeschi has been signed from Fiorentina for a cool £34 million. The wing back was signed by Fiorentina after having a co ownership deal with Crotone bought out by current AC Milan manager Vincenzo Montella for a £1 million in 2014. Fiorentina will at least feel that they have certainly made a nice profit on the player after he spent a large amount of his youth career at the club. He was made 9 international appearances for Italy including 1 at last years European Championship, a crushing 1-0 defeat at the hands of the mighty Ireland.
While the other teams in Italy have avoided the big money transfers, Roma in particular have done just as important business by keeping Belgian midfielder Radja Nainggolan. The talisman has signed a contract until 2021 which will hopefully dispel the rumours of his imminent departure. With the signings of experienced full back Alexandra Kolarov from Man City and a few decent signings from the Serie A including Juan Jesus from Inter Milan, and Bruno Peres from Torino it has been a squad improvement rather than a first 11 improvement for Roma. There has also been increased speculation about a third bid for Riyad Mahrez after a second bid of £27 million was rejected. The big appointments at Inter have been at management with former Roma manager Luciano Spalletti joining over the summer after 18 months with the Rome side. He brings a wealth of experience having managed Roma on a previous occasion for 4 seasons and Zenit after that for almost 5. The club badly needs stability after a pretty bad time over the last couple of seasons. Transfers have been slow with only 22 year old defender Milan Skriniar joining from Sampdoria for just under £20 million. Napoli have also kept their spending to a minimum with Nikola Maksimovic, a 25 year old centre back from Torino their only major signing.
While the big names in Italy have been able to spend big it’s easy to forget that the 2 Milan clubs finished in 6th and 7th last year being topped by Lazio and Atalanta. While Lazio’s only signing has been to rip the beating heart out of Liverpool to sign the reliable Lucas Leiva, he has come in to replace Lucas Biglia who has left for Milan for a £17 million switch. A beating heart transplant of defensive midfielders in their thirties if you will. Atalanta have lost full back Andrea Conti to Milan and have signed Ilicic from Fiorentina but for the most part have kept the squad of players that done so well last season. Judging on the pre season games we’ve seen so far this summer it looks same as always for the Serie A clubs with Roma defeating Spurs 3-2 in New Jersey and Juventus beating PSG 3-2 in Florida. It’s difficult to judge in Pre Season games of course, but with the leagues set to start all over Europe in the next few weeks most of the teams are in the same ball park in their fitness so perhaps a little bit can be taken from the results. One thing is for certain, the transfer of Bonucci has signalled intent from Milan. They have made their intentions clear from the start that if Juventus are going to win a magnificent seven in a row, then they will have a fight on their hands from the mighty Milan once again.