Udinese appear to be dominating the calcio transfer rumour mill unlike fellow UEFA Champions League newcomers Napoli with Alexis Sanchez’s departure to Barcelona looking imminent and Cristian Zapata appearing primed to departure the Stadio Friuli. Contrast this to the Neapolitans whose players have had only a minor role so far in the gossip columns.
The rumours that have been mooted, such as Marek Hamsik being lined up in a cash plus player deal with Antonio Cassano acting as a makeweight in the opposite direction, have only served to indicate Napoli’s intent to remain a Champions League club for more than the one season, or at least to maintain a challenge for the Champions League places. Udinese on the other hand appear to be ready to cash in on their stars and look set to continue the policy that has lead them to where they are now by selling most of their top players at a good profit while importing potential talents from overseas.
Coach Francesco Guidolin combined tactical nous with the element of surprise to give il Zebrette a taste of being a part of Europe’s elite competition. Unlike Napoli, there are not quite there yet as they are still to navigate the qualifying round, a task their equivalent of the year before Sampdoria, failed to do so. Of course Udinese are highly unlikely to suffer quite the fate that the Genovese side has as with Guidolin and an impressive recruitment policy, the Udine club has that much needed quality of consistency. Unfortunately, with their main stars the subject of advances from those more established elite European clubs, Udinese appear to have already been dismissed as one season wonders by some sections of the media. A rather unfair assessment in truth but expectations are that Roma and Juventus will not fall any further back in their quest to be back in title contention.
Indeed, expectations of Udinese remain rather low despite last season’s remarkable achievements. The club’s expectations are leading to a struggle to hold onto their best players, a struggle that seems beyond them albeit they’ll emerge from the situation with the bank balance inflated. They will of course look to invest some of the money back into the club but it would be unlikely to be huge sums of money due to their tried-and-tested recruitment policy.
Napoli offer a marked contrast to Udinese’s expected fortunes in the transfer market and that is in great part due to the way owner Aurelio De Laurentiis has invested in the club. The team’s achievement in gaining automatic Champions League qualification was indeed excellent but not far from where the club projected them to be. Of course, the collapse of Roma and Juventus has helped the Neapolitan club leap above them and De Laurentiis will no doubt look to maintain it as such. They’re looking to invest further into the squad rather than sell and as you’d expect with the industry in which the President made his name, they’re intending to star in the Serie A as opposed to being in a supporting role. It’s a supporting role that their fellow Champions League debutants seem all too eager to accept.