Italy’s richest clubs have a new way of screwing the rest of Serie A

juan cuadrado juventus

There are certain Serie A clubs that try very, very hard to not sell their star players to Italy’s biggest clubs. Juventus, of course, with her four-year title streak, is the team others least want to help, but selling to Inter or AC Milan is also to be avoided. And so the peninsula’s brightest move elsewhere, from Edinson Cavani at Paris Saint-Germain to Stevan Jovetic at Manchester City, to Ciro Immobile joining Borussia Dortmund and Juan Cuadrado landing at Chelsea.

Obviously there are other factors at play. When Cavani left, no one in Serie A had the €63 million necessary to meet his release clause. Immobile’s best chance of Champions League play would be at Dortmund. And what player could resist the chance at fighting for the title with one of the Premier League’s best teams?

It is the money that plays the ultimate deciding factor in the quest for Serie A gold. While Juventus, interested in both Jovetic and Cuadrado, could have easily afforded both, there’s no way Italy’s champions would’ve paid the sort of wages the Premier League’s richest can afford. Jovetic’s €6.6 million per year at City would have made him the highest earner in Serie A, just edging out Daniele De Rossi’s €6.5 million at Roma. Cuadrado comes in just behind, making around €6.25 million at Chelsea, far surpassing Carlos Tevez, Juve’s highest earner, who made €4.5 million per year in 2014-15.

And it’s the money that, in the end, brings the players back to Serie A. Back to the clubs their foes wanted to keep the stars away from, at prices that now make these players ridiculous bargains.

SEE MORE: ESPN FC to deliver expansive Transfer Deadline Day coverage on Tuesday.

Serie A players have often failed to shine away from Italy. At Fiorentina, head coach Vincenzo Montella specifically used formations that highlighted Jovetić, but at Manchester City, he was expected to simply slot into the side. Same for Cuadrado, who was given plenty of freedom with the viola, but rarely thrown a glance at Chelsea. In his 13 appearances — four of them as a starter — Cuadrado never even assisted on a goal, much less scored one, so after half a season, it was time to go. Jovetic fared slightly better, with 30 appearances and eight goals after two years at City, but he never came close to hassling opponents the way he had in Italy.

Trouble is, the likes of Chelsea and City have trouble getting rid of this sort of dead weight, because few other sides want to pay those sorts of salaries, especially to players seen as Premier League failures. So these rich clubs, needing to make room for newer, shinier acquisitions, strike deals with Serie A clubs. And the big Serie A clubs profit.

Inter, still a big club but no longer a rich one, already spent an astonishing €30 million buying Geoffrey Kondogbia from Monaco. So the deal with Manchester City works perfectly. It’s a compulsory loan-to-buy, which pretty much means Inter pay just €3 million up front, then shell out at least €12 million, more if the team does well, next season. So while Fiorentina may have received that initial €30 million two years ago, they’re now going to have to face what they tried so hard to avoid – a Big Three team enhanced at the viola expense.

Jovetic has already made his mark, scoring at the death to give Inter all three points against Atalanta in Round 1. That €3 million spent this season could very well be what takes Inter to Champions League play next year, and although it means they’ll pay City a little bit more, it’ll pale in comparison to the €40 million received for making the group stages.

But that’s nothing compared to the aid Juventus, Italy’s richest club, is being given by Chelsea. The bianconeri were once Cuadrado’s biggest suitors, and now they’ve finally landed their man. Except rather than have to pay €25 million or more, Cuadrado’s theirs for just €1.8 million this season. Considering this is a transition year for Juventus, in which the side will need to revamp their style to make up for the losses of Andrea Pirlo and Arturo Vidal, it’s a perfect arrangement for the champions. And if it works out, Juventus can pony up the funds next season, when they haven’t already shelled out €32 million for Paulo Dybala or €19 million for Mario Mandzukic.

This is a wonderful arrangement for Inter, and Juventus, and even Milan, who get to try their luck with Mario Balotelli once more, without actually paying for him to return. It’s obviously benefiting the Premier League clubs, who will at least get some sort of cash from these failed investments, and more importantly, they’ll gain an open spot on the roster.

SEE MORE: Latest summer transfer window deals.

But for the Fiorentinas of the league, who’ve been falling just short of Champions League soccer for the past few seasons, it’s pretty much a disaster. While many say having the Milan clubs return to their great heights will benefit Serie A, teams like Fiorentina, and Napoli, and Lazio, and even Sampdoria and Torino, aren’t eager to go back to the status quo. Roma, neither suffering nor benefiting from these arrangements, can’t be thrilled either. These teams want to see the league made competitive by putting new names into the European races, not through a return to the unshiftable Big Three.

It might be a long game these other teams are playing, bringing in new managers, emphasizing tactics, trying out new formations. It requires a balance of selling, careful buying and yes, keeping the big teams from stealing their stars. But now that the richest clubs in the world are actually assisting the big names in assembling better squads, Serie A’s smaller names must feel like they’ll never make more than a fleeting impression.

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  1. Frank August 27, 2015
    • NaBUru38 August 27, 2015

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