The Rosanero revolution continues to march forward. On the pitch, Palermo just had their nine game unbeaten run come to a halt away from home against second place Genoa. Off the pitch, the club was as active as it had ever been during the winter transfer window with six transfers in and seven transfers out. The intent was to raise the overall quality of the team that Eugenio Corini has at his disposal. The formula for success was equal parts subtraction and addition.
The January transfer window is always tough as clubs try to figure out what pieces are missing and what moves can be made in the span of 31 days. Expectations might always be high, but the reality is the deals that are made aren’t typically eye-opening. Nor are those moves often great in number. And typically, if you do see a lot of movement in and out of a club, it’s usually a sign of an existential crisis.
What better example of this than the Palermo winter window of the 2012-13 season? The Rosanero were in turmoil in Serie A with more coaching changes than wins by the time January rolled around. Maurizio Zamparini instructed his sporting director Pietro Lo Monaco (the second sporting director of the season, by the way) to go all out to turnover the squad. Lo Monaco did just that by bringing in an astounding 10 new players into the side while also sending out 11 players! The hope was that these moves would help reverse course on the season and save the club from relegation to Serie B. That hope would not become a reality as Palermo ended up relegated to Serie B for the first time under Zamparini’s watch. Looking back at the purchases that were made, only one player actually who arrived that January had a lasting impact at the club: Stefano Sorrentino. The rest would either be remembered with frustration (Salvatore Aronica), or forgotten altogether (unless you look back fondly at the likes of Andrea Dossena, Nelson, Anselmo, Alejandro Faurlin, Mauro Formica, Mauro Boselli, Diego Fabbrini, and Mauricio Sperduti). Good times, right?
On the flip side, sometimes the moves made in January end up being exactly what a club needs to make a push for promotion. There is no better example of this than the Palermo winter window of the 2003-04 season. Heading into January, the Rosanero sat in second place in Serie B and were in need of a handful of players to help them for the back half of the season. Those signings proved to be the difference, with each one playing a significant role in the club’s promotion-winning campaign. And who can forget these guys who were signed that January? Fabio Grosso, Giuseppe Biava, the Filippini brothers (Antonio Filippini and Emanuele Filippini) and Jeda. Each one is remembered fondly for their time at Palermo, with Grosso and Biava becoming famous exes and the Filippini brothers reaching cult status for their performances that season. When done well, January can be influential.
So, this past January, Leandro Rinaudo and his associates with City Football Group set out to shore up the squad with quality individuals who could help Palermo out in the short term and the long term. The first order of business was getting rid of elements that were considered extraneous to the side. Those players were either sold or loaned out. Edoardo Pierozzi was recalled by Fiorentina in order to be sent somewhere else to get playing time. Manuel Peretti, Masimiliano Doda, and Mladen Devetak were all sent out on loans to sides in Serie C. Even though they are all young, it’s hard to think that any one of them will ever play with the Rosanero in the future. Roberto Crivello was loaned out to Padova. Unfortunately, it also meant goodbye to Andrea Accardi – the only holdover from the original Palermo under Zamparini – who was sold to Piacenza. The club also parted ways with Roberto Floriano who played a pivotal role with Palermo while in Serie C. The 36 year old was sold to Sangiuliano City. Of the Palermo that was reborn in Serie D, only Edoardo Lancini is still at the club.
With so many moves in defense leaving the club, it only made sense that a lot of new faces joined Palermo in that department. The first name was Renzo Orihuela. The 21 year old versatile defender arrived from another club owned by City Football Group, Montevideo City Torque in Uruguay. Able to play either spot in central defense or as a right back, he is a promising prospect who the Rosanero will look at. He’s also the second arrival from another club in the CFG “galaxy” after Claudio Gomes. It didn’t stop there as Palermo made an important investment in another central defender in Simon Graves from Randers. The 23 year old Dane is expected to eventually make his way into the starting lineup should Ivan Marconi or Ionut Nedelcearu ever need a spell. Graves had been on CFG’s scouting radar for a long time and Palermo spent a million euro to acquire him outright. And besides, the last Danish player named Simon who played for Palermo happened to be pretty, pretty good! Two others joined the Rosanero defense at fullback. Edoardo Masciangelo is a Serie B veteran who will help cover left back as Marco Sala is the only true LB on the roster. Rinaudo also bought Giuseppe Aurelio from Pontedera in Serie C. The 22 year old has been a sensation this season with 4 goals and 7 assists for his former club. Aurelio has experience at every position on the left-side of the pitch, from left back, to left midfielder to left winger. His arrival is very much a signing for the future.
In the midfield, the biggest question mark surrounded the health of Leo Stulac who picked up an injury that turned out to be much worse than originally thought. Expected to be out for months instead of weeks, the Rosanero needed some cover in the midfield. That cover would turn into the marquee signing of the January window in the return to Rosanero for Sampdoria midfielder Valerio Verre. The 29 year old was a mainstay for the blucerchiati in Serie A and his return to Palermo is an absolute luxury for Serie B. And it is a welcome return for Verre after he spent the 2013-14 Serie B campaign with Palermo, playing in 20 matches to go along with 5 assists in that promotion winning season. Hopefully, his return is the good luck charm to a return back to the promised land.
Up top, Palermo made one move. They went and signed Gennaro Tutino from Parma. It was a gamble that the Rosanero hopes will pay off. Having shined for Salernitana in Serie B a couple season ago (14 goals, 7 assists), he had not reproduced those same numbers for Parma (7 goals, 2 assists) across a season and a half. However, the initial thought is that he had been played out of position while with the crociati and is best positioned playing alongside another striker. Palermo seized the opportunity to test that theory while also providing some positional flexibility for Corini aside from his traditional 4-3-3 and 3-5-2 formations. If it works, it’s a brilliant move. If it doesn’t, the club will simply not exercise its option to purchase his contract at the end of the season.
All in all, January was a flurry of activity. The club did what it had to do by trimming the squad of its excess resources while bringing in present and future contributors. It’s hard to have done a better job than what Rinaudo and company did this past month. The reinforcements have arrived. The results remain to be seen.