The hype and irrationality behind Italian calciomercato

Serie A is set to open its winter transfer window, on Monday January 3, 2022 marking the start of a month of intense negotiations between clubs and agents, unexpected player movements and sensational transfer rumors.

Gianluca Di Marzio, 47 years old Sport Sky journalist and one of the most trusted Italian transfer market experts, helped me understand what’s going on during the busy Serie A days calciomercato.

An exciting and unpredictable spectacle

The Italian transfer market scene is heavily characterized by instinct and impulsiveness rather than careful assessment, said Di Marzio, whose daily transfer updates are read by 1.4 million football fans on Twitter.

While Italian teams have ample time to negotiate deals during a transfer window, it is very common for club officers to wait for the approach of the calciomercato delay before making an official offer for a player.

“The paradox, which only occurs in Italy, is that there are transactions which are concluded on the last day of transfer and which are also born on the last day of transfer,” said Di Marzio.

It may seem odd that clubs often choose to procrastinate when they have several weeks to schedule a transfer based on their needs and financial resources.

This apparently irrational strategy is bearing fruit, however, because the clubs know very well how to synchronize their movements: by offering transfer offers close to the calciomercato deadline, they are putting a lot of pressure on clubs receiving such offers, especially if they have tried to remove players from their roster.

In addition, this strategy helps to create a mixture of mystery and allure in the football audience, said Di Marzio, so much so that the “transfer market becomes a spectacle” in which people get emotionally attached to it. story of a particular player or player. club.

One of the most iconic last minutes calciomercato is the one who, in 2008, brought Argentina striker Diego Milito from Real Zaragoza from La Liga to Genoa in Serie A. Seconds after the 7 p.m. deadline, football agent Federico Pastorello was filmed as ‘he reached the wall of the Lega Serie A to throw the envelope containing the signed contract of Milito to the leaders of the league.

This unprecedented move ultimately shaped the future of Italian football: the following season, Milito joined José Mourinho’s Inter Milan, where he established himself as the team’s top scorer and led his team to the prestigious treble, something that had never been achieved before by an Italian club.

Logically, last minute deals sometimes fail due to the many clauses that must be worked out in a player’s contract, such as salary, image rights, signing and performance bonuses, and commissions. agent. In fact, a player’s contract can even be 100 pages long, in which case it becomes impossible for clubs to agree within hours or even days.

The growing presence of US ownership in Italian football (the number now stands at 11 in Italy’s three professional men’s leagues) is slowly changing the way clubs approach transfer deals, says Di Marzio.

Whereas American homeowners tend to be more financially disciplined, Di Marzio believes Italy calciomercato is intended to move towards a more analytical approach to buying and selling players, as it will gradually abandon its instinctive nature and switch to a more rigorous modus operandi.

Current trends in the transfer market in Italy

The many financial challenges affecting European football put Italian clubs under extreme pressure. It is no coincidence that some of Serie A’s wealthiest clubs like Juventus and Inter have reported record losses during the pandemic, while other teams like Spezia and Genoa have sold stakes to investors. foreigners.

Because cash scarcity is a common theme for all Italian clubs, Serie A sides will have limited purchasing power in the next transfer window.

“It is now very difficult to see permanent transfer operations,” said Di Marzio. “The tendency is to make loans.

Loans can come in a variety of formats, and some of the more economical loans are option or obligation to purchase loans. This means that a club gets a player on loan for free or by paying a small fee. Then, at the end of the loan term, the borrowing club will either pay the full transfer fee from the player to the lender club or return it. Such formats make it easier for players to travel as they allow the borrowing club not to incur large transfer fees at times when it may not have available money.

Manuel Locatelli, UEFA Euro 2020 winner with Italy, is an example of a player who has recently been loaned from one Serie A club to another.

Last summer, Sassuolo, who owned the rights to Locatelli, loaned the 23-year-old Italy international to Juventus with a purchase obligation. Juventus, who signed Locatelli on a five-year contract, will pay Sassuolo € 35m ($ 39.6m) in 2023 for the player’s permanent transfer. Sassuolo, Di Marzio stressed, has agreed to such conditions to address Juventus’ current cash shortage.

The financial consequences of the pandemic will loom at least over the next two Serie A transfer windows, according to Di Marzio. Since even the best clubs currently have limited purchasing power and the rise of the Omicron variant has reduced the capacity of football stadiums from 75% to 50%, athletic directors will have to work with tight budgets as a result. that they try to strengthen the roster of second part of the 2021/22 season of Serie A.

A typical day of Calciomercato

At the time of the transfer market, the city of Milan becomes the meeting point for Italian sports directors and agents.

“Milan is the hub of calciomercato“said Di Marzio.

If Covid-19 allows, Italian club leaders prefer to conduct face-to-face negotiations during transfer market season. This is why, on a typical transfer market day, Di Marzio and his associates spend time in the few hotels and restaurants where players’ agents and sports directors usually meet: it is in these informal settings. that most deals are done.

“We are discovering a lot of player negotiations in person,” said Di Marzio, who describes himself as a “private investigator” looking for new transfer leads. “It’s because we see them (club officers and officers) meet up, maybe at the table or when sharing a cup of coffee.”

This year’s winter transfer window will last four weeks as Serie A open its calciomercato doors on January 3 and close them on January 31, 2022.

The deadline, which represents the last opportunity for clubs to forward their transfer requests to the league, is historically the most closely watched moment of the Italian transfer market session.

On this day, Lega Serie A executives, player agents and sports journalists will all meet at a business hotel in Milan, where they will attend calciomercato craze runs its exciting and unpredictable course.

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