Since their return to Serie A in 2004 Palermo have been carefully piecing together a squad which looks capable of challenging Italy’s elite in their aspiration of Champions League football but many see the likely departure of Danish international defender Simon Kjaer as a backward turn by the Sicilian club
Kjaer has been a standout performer for Head Coach Delio Rossi’s side and the 21 year old has represented Denmark on 5 occasions this season in helping them to World Cup qualification in South Africa.
With clubs such as Manchester United, Arsenal and Chelsea rumoured to be interested in securing the services of the tough-tackling centre back and with the incentive of Champions League football, Kjaer’s departure now seems a case of when, not if.
Nevertheless it’s not all doom and gloom for Palermo who can still boast quality players such as the experienced Australian Mark Bresciano, Italian international Fabrizio Miccoli and Uruguayan strikers Edinson Cavani and Abel Hernandez. It is essential the Rosanero do not lose any more key players this summer as they will damage the core of their team.
Although they looked to have lost one of Europe’s brightest young talents, the transfer fee that Palermo could demand for Kjaer, especially after the World Cup could fetch between €20-25 million – a very profitable return on the man they only paid £4 million Euros for in 2007.
With an expected shake up during the summer months the money that Palermo brings in for Kjaer can be wisely spent rebuilding all areas of the squad, principally the centre of defence. Perhaps, Rossi can be very astute in the transfer market this summer and pick up more experienced players to complement his up and coming youngsters. Pedersen of Blackburn Rovers and Behrami of West Ham United have already been linked.
The gap left by Kjaer is one that Palermo need to fill very promptly indeed. William Gallas is a player who offers experience and leadership and looks set to leave Arsenal after yet another year without silverware at the North London club. Gallas is seen as an achievable, profitable target and would move on a Bosman free transfer.
The World Cup in South Africa opens many avenues for the Sicilians. This is the stage where stars are born and Delio Rossi needs to get in there first with his cheque book. If he can capture players who are considered ‘coups’ for the club then this will encourage others to follow suit and convince players such as Hernandez and Cavani that their Palermo careers could well be trophy-laden.
Palermo has secured a Europa League place for the 2010/2011 campaign and this alone will help attract players of higher quality to help sustain the all important aim of Champions League football. Higher crowds and additional TV revenue from playing Europa League football can only help the Sicilians further.
Players such as Amauri, Barzagli and Zaccardo have all plied their trade at the Stadio Renzo Barbera and moved on to Champions League football. It is time for Palermo to stop being considered a ‘stepping stone’ for such players and be considered a Champions League force themselves.
Therefore, if Palermo spend wisely with the expected transfer of Kjaer, a lofty league position is still very viable and a strong run in the Europa League could see Delio Rossi’s side build on the success of last season and go one better to secure the coveted 4th place finish.
And who knows, maybe the Rosanero could be welcoming Simon Kjaer back to the Stadio Renzo Barbera in the not so distant future in the Champions League.