Palermo Club Focus: Rosanero 2.0 Is Taking Shape
While a spirited 2-2 draw against Lazio would be the perfect place to start with regards to Palermo’s fight out of the relegation spots, we aren’t going to focus on the game in this week’s club focus. Regardless of Saturday’s performance, Palermo’s chances of safety will be greatly altered by the players brought in this January. Thus we will look at the many transactions that have taken place and will take place, as Pietro Lo Monaco looks to take this club out of the doldrums it has resided in for the past 18 months.
The club promised signings this January, and they have certainly delivered as Salvatore Aronica, Andrea Dossena and Anselmo have already joined. The wheeling and dealing has continued this week as the club signed even more players who they hope will have a large say in keeping the club up.
We’ll start with Stefano Sorrentino who, after weeks of “he’s signed for Palermo/hasn’t signed for Palermo”, has finally signed for the club.
A transfer fee of over €4 million was agreed upon between the Rosanero and Chievo which may raise a few eyebrows to the casual fan, but a seasoned viewer of the Serie A would disagree. Sorrentino has long been hailed as one of the top keepers in the peninsula, playing a key role in keeping the Flying Donkeys in the Serie A despite the club’s modest resources. His great shot stopping abilities will be welcomed by his new employers as Palermo have struggled between the posts this season.
While Samir Ujkani should become a solid goalkeeper in the future, the club’s poor season to date seemed to affect his performances resulting in Francesco Benussi getting some playing time. Since every performance in a relegation battle is magnified, the experience that Sorrentino brings is a step in the right direction and will probably result in Ujkani heading out the doors for regular playing time (Chievo are reportedly close to his signature).
While Diego Buonanotte will not be arriving, the South American contingent will grow as Mauro Formica, Mauro Boselli and Mauricio Sperduti look to be the latest Argentines to wear the Rosanero. As I write this, Formica is the only signing that has been made official but the other two look to be close to completion.
Formica arrives from Blackburn whom he signed for in the summer of 2011. A former Newell’s Old Boys youth product, he stayed with the club despite their relegation to the Championship last season but did not feature regularly having last played on December 7th. An attacking midfielder/attacker, El Gato will likely (hopefully) settle in given the bountiful amounts of South Americans at the club. While not as exciting a signing as Buonanotte, his quality and passing abilities are welcome at a club that is lacking in those areas.
Mauro Boselli currently plays for Wigan Athletic, but his best times have come as an Estudiantes player. He helped the club win the Copa Libertadores in 2009 after finishing top scorer in the competition. He signed for Wigan in 2010 thanks in large part to his form in what is essentially the Champions League of South America, but he has never hit those same levels while in England.
He was even sent on loan to Genoa in 2011 (2 goals in 7 appearances), went back on loan to Estudiantes right after before returning to Wigan and receiving the award for the club’s worst foreigner in 2012. Despite that illustrious title, Palermo will be hoping that life in the peninsula will be better suited to him than what England had to offer. And if that doesn’t work out, at least he will provide Gasperini with another option in attack since Palermo are extremely thin in terms of depth in that position.
As for Mauricio Sperduti, his contract expires with his current club (Newells’ Old Boy) and he looks set to arrive in the summer on a three-year contract. Since a lot can happen between now and then (namely relegation and Zamparini firing directors and the coach), his signing will have no impact on the current season so a look into him will be saved for another day.
Now with all these players coming in, the big red sign that reads EXIT is also being worn out as numerous players have already left and more will join them. The list of players that have already departed is long and includes: Milan Milanovic (Vicenza), Carlos Labrin (Huachipat), Eros Pisano (Genoa), Nicolas Bertolo (Cruz Azul), Luigi Giorgi (Atalanta), Erin Zahavi (Maccabi Tel Aviv) and Igor Budan (Atalanta). If we add in those that are rumoured to be leaving or close to leaving the list becomes even longer: Massimo Donati (Atalanta), Franco Brienza (Verona), Mauro Cetto (San Lorenzo), Samir Ujkani (Chievo), Afriyie Acquah (Hoffenheim).
That amounts to a starting lineup of players heading out of Sicily. If some of the names look unfamiliar or foreign, that’s because many of them contributed little or nothing to Palermo this season. The amount of transfers in/out highlights the amount of work Lo Monaco has undertaken this month in attempts to steer Palermo down the right path after months of disarray. Only time will tell whether this work was done in vain or not, with avoiding a drop to Serie B being the ultimate (and only) goal. If that does not happen, Palermo 3.0 will be in the works a lot faster than anybody associated with the club will have thought (except for Zamparini of course).
Follow Adriano Boin on Twitter: @Boin44