Three Serie A bargains to sign this summer

Recruitment Analysis
David Selini

David Selini

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The summer is here and that means sporting directors and managers across Europe will go into overdrive looking to do the deals that bring their clubs success in the coming campaign. Some players move for huge fees, some for reasonable ones and some move for free. The idea with this article is to look at three outstanding options for clubs to look at in this summer’s transfer window. Better yet, all three of them would be reasonably cheap. All three are based in the home country of transfer dealings – Italy.

Gastón Brugman

The first player we look at is the 24-year-old Uruguayan playmaker Gastón Brugman. Brugman left his native Uruguay as a 15-year-old in 2007 to join the youth academy of Empoli. After five years in the Tuscan club, where he made his debut in Serie B at 18, Brugman joined Serie A club Pescara. After a tough first half to the season he joined Grosseto in Serie B on loan before returning to Pescara for the new season where he was integral in the starting eleven following their relegation. He then joined Palermo in Serie A, again on loan, making 14 appearances in the league and returned to Pescara ahead of this season. This term, Brugman made 27 Serie A appearances and impressed as the defensive midfielder in Massimo Oddo’s 4-3-2-1. Brugman was the deep-lying playmaker, the regista, who built the attacks of the vertical possession style Oddo implemented.

To do this effectively, Brugman needed to be a good passer, which he defintitely is. He can switch the point of attack with raking crossfield passes as well as delivering the final pass into the box. Mostly, he picks the ball up from the defenders before looking to break the midfield line of the opposition with a vertical pass.

As you see, Brugman’s passing ability is superb and he averaged just short of fifty passes per game (49.6 to be exact). For Serie A’s bottom side a pass completion rate of 82% is natural due to the vertical and threatening nature of his passing. When Oddo was sacked in February, the notoriously attacking Zdenek Zeman took charge of team. Brugman didn’t get the same confidence from the Czech,results didn’t improve and Pescara went down despite playing some excellent passing football all season.

As a defensive midfielder you obviously have to defend too, which Brugman certainly can. He averaged 3.3 tackles per game and 1.3 interceptions this season, and is a good defender, although he can be quite rash with his tackling at times.

Brugman’s technique, trickiness and quickness also see him very comfortable when pressed as he can dribble out of tight situations and always remains calm. He can also use his dribbling ability to create chances close to the goal as demonstrated in the clips below.

With Pescara suffering relegation back to Serie B, Brugman would likely not enjoy going down a division after two seasons of Serie A football under his belt. Therefore he should be on the market for a transfer this summer and according to Transfermarkt his market value at the time of writing is only 1.5 million euros (£1.3m) so would be a fantastic option at a very low cost.

Would suit: Any team searching for a deep-lying playmaker to orchestrate attacks and create from deep, for example Sampdoria, Celta Vigo and Hoffenheim.

Diego Falcinelli

The hero of Crotone’s miracle to stay in Serie A after the side had looked dead and buried as late as early April, Falcinelli should have many suitors in the summer. Falcinelli joined Crotone in August 2016 on loan from Sassuolo after a frustrating season for the striker where he only made 11 starts and got subbed off in eight of them. He was never fully trusted by Sassuolo coach Eusebio Di Francesco and joined Crotone in the hope for more game time in Serie A. This he got alright, and he responded with 13 league goals in his 35 appearances. His 13 goals came from 99 shots, meaning he scored with 13 % of his efforts. While not fantastic statistics, it should be remembered he played for a side that spent every round from 2 to 37 in the relegation zone.

Falcinelli is a true goalscorer who reads the game brilliantly to anticipate where chances can come and where the ball might end up in the penalty area. He’s not only a poacher though, as his left foot is capable of producing beautiful curling efforts from outside the box too. In the video below you see some of his goals this season and his excellent reading of the game as he finds himself in the right place at the right time.

As you see, Falcinelli is excellent at finding space in the box and is superb at finishing from crosses.

In an era in football where pressing from the front is becoming increasingly preferred among coaches, Falcinelli fits the mould. He works tirelessly up front to close down defenders and is a nightmare to play against as the defender can never relax. Look at the intensity he presses with and the way he backtracks to regain possession of the ball.

The 25-year-old striker is also strong physically and very strong in the air. Crotone have sometimes used him as a traditional target man where long passes are directed to him and he uses his strength and aerial ability to create chances for his teammates.

Additionally, Falcinelli’s speed makes him capable of playing as a winger too. In this position he impresses with superb crossing ability with that superb left foot finding its target with great precision.

13 goals in a side that only scored 34 all season means Falcinelli contributed 38% of Crotone’s goals as they miraculously stayed up. Add in three assists and you understand the impact he made at his loan club. With a return to Sassuolo likely dependent on the future of manager Di Francesco (linked with the AS Roma job), Falcinelli should be a target for many clubs. Transfermarkt rates his current market value at 2 million euros (£1.7m) which is just crazy for a striker of this quality. At 25, Falcinelli is yet to reach his peak and his future looks bright, especially after his call up to Giampiero Ventura’s Italian national team where he made his debut this week.

Would suit: Clubs in any league looking for a hardworking striker who can both score and create goals.

Ilija Nestorovski

This is probably the least known of the three players I’ve profiled. Nestorovski is a 27-year-old Macedonian striker who joined Palermo in the summer of 2016 from Croatian side Inter Zapresic after a season in which he scored 25 goals in the league. He took his goal scoring exploits with him to Sicily where he scored 11 goals in the league this season and also added three assists. His direct involvement in fourteen goals out of Palermo’s total of 33 (14%), making him the most important player for Palermo already in his first campaign in Italian football.

Nestorovski is a superb goal scorer who thrives in the penalty area. His finishing is superb, both with his left foot and with his head. He times runs perfectly and, with better players around him, we would have seen the Macedonian score significantly more than his eleven strikes. As you see in the video below, Nestorovski is a superb one-touch finisher.

What is a testament to his reputation as a goal scorer is the fact he never panics in front of goal. He remains calm and confidently finishes. He can score the odd solo goal too, such as this one below against Italy for his country. The striker picks up Marco Verratti’s careless pass before running at Leonardo Bonucci. He repeatedly moves the ball sideways to wrong foot the superb centre-back before shooting in his step with a placed finish out of Gianluigi Buffon’s reach. Calm, concentrated, classy.

Nestorovski, like Falcinelli, also works hard, but not to the extent of the Italian. When the time is right though, he presses with a clear intent to disrupt the play and win the ball. Below is a sequence when he presses a defender who is restricted by the byline, wins the ball and sets off at goal. And scores.

While used exclusively as a number nine for Palermo, the Macedonian can also be deployed as a number 10. From that position, his creativity and link up play can cause the opposition huge problems with his movement between the lines and his passing superb.

In the video above you see some clips of his overall play where he links up with teammates to create good attacking opportunities.

I had to include this clip again, as it’s surely the assist of the season. This is absolutely outrageous creativity and improvisation from Nestorovski.

After two very strong campaigns in Croatia and his debut season in Italy and because of Palermo’s relegation, Nestorovski surely needs to play at a higher level than Serie B. His talent is unquestioned right now after a superb individual season in a devastatingly poor Palermo. With better players around him the 27-year-old striker can shine for most clubs. Goal scorer and playmaker in the same player should be very attractive for clubs, and his market value of 3.5 million euros (£3m) is an absolute bargain of a price tag.

Would suit: Every Italian club except for maybe the top five, but should be a main target for the likes of Atalanta (where he would be perfect), Sampdoria, Genoa or Sassuolo. Can move to other leagues too, of course, but I feel he suits Serie A best.

These were just three options clubs should explore in the transfer market this summer. There are thousands of others, but these three are extremely qualitative low cost options.

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