Palermo have returned to Serie A, but before they play their first official match, there is work to be done.
It’s been over a month since the Rosanero capped off a brilliant and dominant season in Serie B and earned their rightful promotion back to Serie A. Since that time, plenty of things have occurred – and that’s not even considering that little tournament taking place in Brasil. So, what has Palermo been doing in the offseason?
For starters, Giorgio Perinetti is no longer with the club. The architect of last season had a contract that lasted till June 30th and was not renewed. According to Perinetti and Zamparini, the agreement was mutual and cordial but the reason is probably understood. Before the season had even officially finished, Zamparini was in talks with Franco Ceravolo to take a role within the club. Ceravolo’s pending arrival had hints of the Lo Monaco fiasco written all over it and Perinetti probably thought it best to leave before the problems began. Ceravolo’s role had been somewhat undefined with Zamparini claiming he’d be assuming control over scouting. Yet, with a search for a new sporting director proving unfruitful (many names were mentioned but none materialised), it seems that Ceravolo will also perform those duties as well. It’s not the worst thing in the world as Ceravolo is very experienced and boasts a resume that includes Napoli, Torino, Roma, Juventus, QPR, Siena and most recently Guangzhou Evergrande (where Marcello Lippi is the coach) among other pit stops along the way. Nevertheless, you have to feel for Perinetti as this is yet another exit from the club he supports with his heart.
Speaking of exits, two more noteworthy ones can be added to Giorgio’s departure. All-around party animal and fan favorite Gennaro Troianiello has officially been loaned out to Bologna where he’ll try to make it three consecutive promotions from Serie B to Serie A. He’ll be missed from a strictly personal level. He never made a contribution on the pitch, but he provided plenty of laughs and perhaps the most famous picture from Palermo’s run last season. More surprisingly was the sale of Northern Irishman Kyle Lafferty to Championship side Norwich City. From all accounts, it seemed as though Lafferty was a part of the club’s plans for Serie A up until a week or two ago. His transfer caught practically everyone off-guard until Zamparini explained the reasons why. First, the Palermo patron called him a “womaniser” who took frequent trips to meet up with ladies in Milan – this despite having a wife (who he is now separated from). Secondly, according to Zamparini, it was Iachini who could not use him any more as he was “unmanageable” and did not train well. With Iachini unable to sort him out – even at Zamparini’s request, Palermo was able to find a suitor and sell him for a nice profit. How serious were these claims? Well, if you look at Palermo’s first two departures, you’ll notice a common pattern. Iachini wants hard-workers for his Serie A side.
Meanwhile, Abel Hernandez and his future at Palermo is anything but certain. After a World Cup with Uruguay in which he played barely an hour through four matches, Abel has stated that it seems like the right time to find a new club. Don’t worry though. He says that if no “interesting” suitors present themselves, he’s ready to fight in Serie A with the Rosanero. How nice of him! Zamparini has insisted he will not sell the Uruguayan for anything less than a 15 million euro offer. Will he stand by that price? We’ll see.
In any case, Lafferty’s departure and Abel’s wavering leaves Palermo with Andrea Belotti (redeemed from Albinoleffe earlier this summer) and Paulo Dybala as the club’s only true strikers. There’s always Franco Vazquez who can play up top as well. Thus, the clear priority for this summer first and foremost is finding another striker, ideally two. There have been many reports linking Palermo with Sassuolo-owned striker Leonardo Pavoletti, who played for Varese last season and scored 24 goals, including all four of the club’s goals in its two play-out matches, single-handedly saving them from Lega Pro. The 25-year-old is ready for the jump to Serie A and Palermo would be the perfect destination for him. The player already approved a move to Sicily and Sassuolo is ready to give the Rosanero the first shot at him, but they’ll need to be quick as he has many suitors. One other consistent name is veteran Alessandro Matri, who is looking to rebound after disappointing stints with Milan and Fiorentina. He’d be a good option because of his experience, but he’d need to take a wage cut in order to arrive.
There will be more wheeling and dealing to be done this summer. After all, the official transfer window is barely two days open. Zamparini believes Palermo already have a solid base with which to operate and wants to model the club after Atletico Madrid. Whether that’s realistic (or even a good idea – look at their debt!) or not, there is a good backbone for this team. However, the club still needs to make a couple additions to the midfield and address some issues in defense to prevent a struggle from occurring in the top flight.
This summer is important for the future of Palermo. Hopefully, Zamparini has learned from the mistakes made over the past few years and is ready to lead the Rosanero back to glory and respectability. Stay tuned, there’s more to come!