Serie A business across the summer in is heating up to match the extortionate rising air temperatures.
Sides in Serie A have never been afraid to deal with each other, even if it ultimately results in the top seven sides cherry-picking from those below.
This summer has been no different. Last season was a truly spectacular Serie A campaign, with as close a title race as you could hope for between cross city-rivals. There were unlikely survivals and relegations too, as Salernitana overcame obscene odds to maintain their league status, whilst Genoa finally bit the the bullet and sunk into Serie B.
The result has been a summer of cross trading and swapping that few leagues can match. The strongest and wealthiest are going toe-to-toe for various premium assets, and the weaker sides are nipping away the disgruntled from those that cannot afford them the game time they desire.
Here are five transfers that have slipped beneath the radar, but could prove significant in the season to come.
Luis Maximiano to Lazio
Lazio’s hunt for goalkeepers has been a recurring theme of the summer. Both Pepe Reina and Thomas Strakosha have left the club without bringing a penny in return.
Finding a first-choice replacement, as well as an able deputy, has proven tricky. There has been a long held interest in 22 year-old Atalanta goalkeeper Marco Carnesecchi, but that move has yet to materialise.
Maurizio Sarri’s side have however recruited Luis Maximiano from Granada. The 23 year-old cost just shy of £11 million, and currently represents their only realistic starting option. That said, the Portuguese offers a very different skillset to that often imagined of a Sarri goalkeeper.
Maximiano is extremely active as a sweeper-keeper, frequently racing out of his penalty area to challenge. He ranks in the 90th percentile for actions taken outside the box, and his average distance of action (15.9 yards) puts him in the upper 12% of top five league goalkeepers.
Aggressive and proactive, yes. Maximiano has yet to show he has the comfortability on the ball to give Lazio the capacity to build from the back. Last season, 77% of his passes were launched kicks and the average length of his kicks reflected a goalkeeper accustomed to thumping clearances rather than passing from deep.
The caveat of course is that he was playing in a poor, relegated, Granada side who completed the fourth fewest short passes in La Liga. Who better to guide Maximiano on the art of of ball comfortability than Maurizio Sarri?
Playing in such a poor side allowed Maximiano to demonstrate his shot stopping abilities. No goalkeeper in La Liga saved more shots, and his post shot expected goals tally of +0.15 put him in the four best ‘keepers in the division.
Here is an excellent shot stopping goalkeeper, with much to learn with ball at his feet. Whether he is deployed as the first choice, or plays back-up to Carnesecchi, it will be fascinating to see Maximiano’s development in Serie A.
Luka Jovic to Fiorentina
Luka Jović is now 24 years-old. By no stretch is he entering last chance saloon, but he is running out of time to resurrect his reputation at the top level.
That magnificent breakout season at Eintracht Frankfurt, where he scored 17 and assisted five in 25 league matches, is now four full seasons in the past. Four seasons in which he has scored just seven in fewer league minutes that that 2018/19 Bundesliga campaign alone.
Jović therefore just requires consistent matches, and the trust of his manager. In Vicenzo Italiano, Jović has a coach who can supercharge his attacking players. He only needs to look at the effect Italiano has on Serbian teammate Dusan Vlahović to see how his fortunes could improve under his tutelage.
There remains a fantastic forward within Jović, waiting to burst out. He is blessed with a powerful frame to hold off defenders, a keen smell for dangerous positions in the penalty area, and a willingness to shoot in volume. He is also a smart reader of space. Without being the quickest, he loves to burst from a standing start beyond a high defensive line to receive a through pass. Whether Fiorentina possess the type of creator or second striker to enable Jović to perform this role is another question.
The intrigue of this transfer lies in wanting to see Jović re-establish himself. Playing second-fiddle to Karim Benzema during the Frenchman’s glorious Indian summer must have been difficult. Jović hasn’t always helped himself either. Frequent indiscretions during the 2020 lockdown put him out of favour with former manager Zinedine Zidane, from which he never recovered.
An out of favour, talented striker, going to play for an expressive and exciting manager in an attacking team focused around his talents. This is a Serie A transfer to keep an eye on.
Éderson to Atalanta
Times are changing at Atalanta. For the first weeks of summer it seemed like their beloved and iconic manager Gian Piero Gasperini might finally have reached the end of his time in Bergamo. Alas, the waves of discontent have calmed, and the club have looked to improve on a somewhat underwhelming season.
Jeremie Boga and Merih Demiral have been signed on permanent deals for nearly £40 million combined. Inter’s interest in Demiral could well offset this expenditure, however it shows a change intact in Bergamo. The purses, weighted from nearly half a decade of European football, are being opened.
The signing of Brazilian central midfielder Éderson is another indicator of the team’s evolution. Marten de Roon and Remo Freuler have been the lynchpins of the central midfielder positions for Gasperini, playing more matches for the Italian than any other players in his time there. Both are now in their 30s however, and the need to find their successors is pressing.
Teun Koopmeiners arrived last summer and impressed in his debut campaign. Perhaps it will be he and Éderson to make this coveted pivot position their own.
Éderson is a very different mould of midfielder to the other three. The Brazilian’s expertise comes in receiving the ball from defence, turning, and bursting forward to cause havoc. His passing statistics are limited given his half season with relegation battling Salernitana last year, but his carrying and dribbling numbers put him among the best central midfielders in Europe.
Nearly 20 pressures a match, and close to five tackles and interceptions demonstrates a midfielder capable of carrying out Gasperini’s dog work. His willingness to run beyond the defence or take shots from range are only a bonus for the requirements of his new manager.
A fee of £18.9 million is steep for a player with only six months of Serie A experience. It is also likely that Éderson will find minutes hard to come by when Freuler, De Roon and Koopmeiners all all fit. However, his style is unique to Atalanta’s other options, and a successful introduction could give La Dea a new dimension.
Matteo Lovato to Salernitana
Technically, this transfer should be included as a subsect of the one above. The deal that took Éderson from Salernitana to Atalanta also saw Matteo Lovato move in the opposite direction. In itself, this move is interesting enough to be analysed by itself.
One of the prerequisites for playing three centre-backs as Atalanta do, is to have a wealthy stock of defenders to cover. After all, with an extra centre-back starting, extra are required to rotate or replace.
Atalanta find themselves relatively thin in this area. Merih Demiral could be sold to Inter, Berat Djimsiti has interest from Monza, leaving just José Luis Palomino, Rafael Tolói and Giorgio Scalvini.
This makes the sale of 22 year-old Matteo Lovato all the more puzzling. A loan spell at Cagliari last season had been a success as Lovato proved himself to be the type of aggressive defender Atalanta craves. His 4.93 tackles and interceptions are huge for a centre-back albeit in a relegated side, and 12.64 ball recoveries per 90 put him in Europe’s upper 4% of centre-backs.
There is a power and strength to Lovato’s game that few have at this age. Over six foot tall, the Italian is tall without being towering, but creates an air of smothering size in the way he rampages towards a loose ball.
Despite their miraculous recovery last season, Salernitana will again be among the favourites for relegation. A cut-and-thrust defender like Lovato, with experience in fighting at the bottom, is exactly the breed needed for the challenge ahead. Not to mention the potential sell-on value of a player like Lovato should he enjoy a strong season.
Atalanta rarely slip up in the timing of their player sales. This, however, could be one.
Josh Doig to Hellas Verona
The Scottish revolution in Serie A continues. Aaron Hickey may have departed for England, but two more Scotsmen have arrived in the form of Lewis Ferguson and Josh Doig.
We picked a then 18 year-old Josh Doig out back in 2021 as a potential star following a brilliant breakthrough season. Hibernian finished third in the Scottish Premier League that season, and a teenage Doig racked up 25 league starts in his first full season.
The following campaign was a case of more of the same from Doig. In the league he started 31 times, and whilst Hibs fell to eighth, the young left-back’s stock continued to rise.
Statistically, Doig is still yet to really shine. His 2.6 tackles and interceptions per 90, and two assists across the season, fail to paint the picture of what he is. In a climate where Scotland possess two (and potentially two further) European level left-backs, Doig offers something different.
He is a strong crosser of the ball, and consistently attempts to drive the ball into the penalty area from wide following a bursting run up the wing. Whilst left-footed, Doig is also useful at cutting inside onto his right to pass infield or even shoot from range. It is a skill that few left-backs possess, let alone at just 20 years old.
There is also the potential for Doig to grow and develop. Standing at over six-foot, he will likely fill out and become a powerful presence in both an attack and defensive sense. Such developments could see Doig become quite the package for a club like Hellas Verona to possess.
A measly £3 million fee makes this transfer all the more impressive. It represents the creativity if lower Serie A clubs to pick from a league outside the top five. With consistency too, given the transfers of Ferguson and previously of Hickey too Liam Henderson too.