ITALIAN LEAGUE 2018-19: 5 new signings to watch out for
MILAN (AP) — The shortened transfer window in the Italian league will close on Friday, the day before the season starts.
Here is the pick of the signings so far:
CRISTIANO RONALDO (Juventus)
In the “swoop of the century,” Cristiano Ronaldo moved from Real Madrid to Juventus in a Serie A record 112 million euro ($131.5 million) deal. Some see it as an extravagant sum for a player who, although a five-time Ballon d’Or winner, is entering the latter stages of his career.
Ronaldo has always been credited with a phenomenal work ethic, and the 33-year-old Portugal forward has promised to continue that at Juventus.
Juventus has won Serie A for the last seven seasons — and the league and Italian Cup double for the past four — and it is hoping Ronaldo will help it transfer its domestic supremacy to the European stage.
Ronaldo has won the Champions League five times, including in four of the last five seasons, and has scored a competition record of 120 goals, 105 of them since moving to Madrid in 2009. That is 12 more than Juventus managed as a team in that same period.
Juventus set an Italian league record two years ago when it paid Napoli 90 million euros (then $99 million) for Gonzalo Higuain after he scored 36 goals to break a 66-year-old Serie A record. The Argentina forward didn’t disappoint, scoring 32 goals in his first season at Juventus.
Higuain was less successful last season, finding the back of the net 23 times, but Milan still got a relative bargain, paying 18 million euros ($21 million) for a loan deal with the option to buy Higuain for 36 million euros ($42 million) at the end of the season.
The lack of a regular scorer was arguably the biggest weakness in Milan.
Higuain scores in the biggest matches and Juventus should be wary because he relishes punishing a former team. He scored five goals in six matches against Napoli.
LEONARDO BONUCCI (Juventus)
Leonardo Bonucci returned to Juventus from AC Milan as part of the deal which saw Higuain and Mattia Caldara move the other way.
Bonucci won six Serie A titles in seven years at Juventus but the Italy defender joined Milan last year — in what was the shock of the transfer window — for a fee of more than 40 million euros (then $45 million).
The 31-year-old Bonucci, who has reportedly taken a pay cut to move back to his former club, will have a job to do to win back the Juventus fans. He celebrated wildly after scoring at Juventus in his first match against his former team.
Bonucci was given the captain’s armband at Milan but struggled initially and only returned to somewhere near his best in the second part of the season.
MATTIA CALDARA (AC Milan)
AC Milan is perceived by many as the team which has got the better end of the Bonucci and Caldara swap deal.
It was a direct swap, with both players valued at 35 million euros ($41 million), however Caldara is seven years younger than Bonucci.
The 24-year-old Caldara is set to form a partnership with Alessio Romagnoli, with the duo widely viewed as two of Italian soccer’s finest young defenders.
Caldara scored seven goals for Atalanta two seasons ago. That persuaded Juventus to sign him in January 2017, but the Bianconeri loaned him back to Atalanta until June 2018.
The midfielder is expected to add some much needed grit to Inter Milan’s midfield after joining from Roma for 38 million euros ($44.3 million).
The 30-year-old Nainggolan was an integral member of Roma’s run to the 2018 Champions League semifinals.
He spent 4 1/2 years at Roma, after making his Serie A debut with Cagliari, and will reunite with former Giallorossi coach Luciano Spalletti.
Nainggolan announced his international retirement in May after being left out of Belgium’s World Cup squad.