The first transfer window of the new City Football Group era at Palermo is now complete. And with that, it’s time to focus solely on the results on the pitch.
One of the key reasons why Dario Mirri sold the club to City Football Group was the strong organizational structure it brings to its projects – he even highlighted this point during the inaugural press conference. And nothing has emphasized that organizational structure better than the moves made in this summer’s transfer market. Granted, it doesn’t hurt to have vast financial resources at your disposal either.
Yet, City Group and the Palermo management had a plan and enacted it nearly perfectly. And they did it despite the unexpected, abrupt resignations of the previous coach and DS only weeks prior to the start of the new season. The reality was that this team needed investments to bolster the roster for a tough Serie B campaign. So, interim DS Leandro Rinaudo alongside City Group scout (and ex-player) Luciano Zavagno went to work.
When Eugenio Corini was appointed as the new coach, he would naturally bring his philosophy and style of play to the team. That meant a switch to his preferred 4-3-3 formation; under Silvio Baldini, the Rosanero had adopted a 4-2-3-1 formation. Corini made due with what he had for the first several matches of the new season, but Rinaudo and Zavagno were working behind the scenes to bring in players that would fit the Corini mold.
In defense, the idea was to bring in a mix of experienced veterans and youth with upside. The club accomplished this through the acquisitions of 26 year old Ionut Nedelcearu, 23 year old Marco Sala and 26 year old Ales Mateju (the latter being a Corini disciple who can play in every defensive role). All three have Serie B experience – and Mateju has spent two seasons playing in Serie A. The Rosanero also brought in a smart gamble in 22 year old Davide Bettella, a fresh-faced 20 year old Edoardo Pierozzi and a virtual unknown in 23 year old Serbian Mladen Devetak. Nedelcearu and Sala are already starters, although Sala has been out the last couple games due to injury. Rinaudo managed to free the club of a heavy contract in Michele Somma who finally rescinded his deal with the Rosanero after being frozen out of the squad for the past year, he’ll join Catania as they restart in Serie D.
The midfield experienced the biggest change from last season. Gone are three foundational players under Baldini: Jacopo Dall’Oglio, Francesco De Rose and Gregorio Luperini. That left Palermo without any midfielders and theoretically, every single player in the midfield is a new signing. Yes, Samuele Damiani arrived in Palermo in January of last season but it was on a loan deal that expired in June. The club then managed to sign him outright after the fact. Yes, Jeremie Broh was loaned out by Palermo last season but despite playing as a starter for a Sudtirol side that won promotion to Serie B, they decided not to exercise their option to buy him and he returned to the Rosanero. Broh literally played himself onto the Palermo roster after a tremendous preseason followed by a monstrous couple of matches to start this season. He has looked like Jeremie Brohgba or Jeremie Pogbroh early on and looks like an important piece in the midfield. But Rinaudo and Zavagno’s finest work wasn’t those two players. It was a trio of signings of the Triple S team: Leo Stulac, Jacopo Segre and Dario Saric. Stulac is an absolute steal to have in Serie B and will be the bedrock of the Rosanero midfield. Joining him on either side in a three man midfield will be a pair of 25 year old Serie B veterans in Segre and Saric. This is where the Rosanero will have an advantage against nearly all of their Serie B opponents. To round it out, Palermo quietly brought in their first Manchester City player in 22 year old Claudio Gomes on deadline day. The youngster will most likely serve as the backup to Stulac.
Up top, the team is built around Matteo Brunori – this is no secret. After confirming Roberto Floriano, Nicola Valente and Edoardo Soleri, there were still gaps that needed filling. Rinaudo strengthened the wings with two excellent acquisitions – both with ties to Palermo. First, 23 year old winger Salvatore Elia joined the club where his father used to play; then came a Palermitano born-and-bred in 26 year old winger Francesco Di Mariano. Both players will most likely be the routine starters with Floriano and Valente supplementing them as valid alternatives. One of the finest purchases of the window was Luca Vido. The 25 year old has over 150 appearances in Serie B to go along with 32 goals and 15 assists and can play as Brunori’s back up, a second striker or a trequartista. It’s a great signing for the division. Finally, Rinaudo and Zavagno proved to move on quickly if a mistake was made. After bringing Matteo Stoppa in on loan from Sampdoria, the early returns weren’t convincing and the loan was rescinded. Stoppa headed back to Sampdoria before he was then loaned out to Vicenza.
All in all, the club made 17 new signings to go along with 11 sales. The total amount invested was around seven million euros to build a team to compete “calmly” in its first season in Serie B. What made this all impressive was just how matter-of-fact the whole process was. Those who have followed the club have never experienced a transfer window so alarmingly routine and serene. There were no outlandish declarations alla Zamparini. There were no hand-wringing murmurs amongst supporters asking where the money to invest into the team would come from. No, the club just went out, made great signings and reinforced a team that needed new players. Now, it’s up to Corini and the players to perform on the pitch.