Football

Published: Wednesday September 3, 2014 MYT 3:27:41 AM
Updated: Wednesday September 3, 2014 MYT 3:28:24 AM

No reheated soup, but plenty of leftovers for Serie A

(Reuters) - At various stages during the transfer window, Juventus hoped to sign Chile forward Alexis Sanchez and prolific Colombian Radamel Falcao to boost their attack and mount a serious challenge in the Champions League this season.

Instead, they ended up with Alvaro Morata, who spent most of last season as a Real Madrid substitute and then suffered a knee injury in his first training session after his move to Turin.

Morata, 21, has played for Spain at several age levels and Juventus clearly believe in his potential as they showed by spending 20 million euros (15.94 million pound) on him.

But it was hardly the sort of marquee signing to be expected from one of Europe’s biggest and most ambitious clubs.

Once the first choice destination for the world's top players, Serie A increasingly seems to be looked upon as a place for older players to see out their careers.

Among those to arrive during the transfer window were 33-year-old Patrice Evra, who moved from Manchester United to Juve, his 32-year-old former team mate Nemanja Vidic, who joined Inter Milan, and Ashley Cole, 33, who went from Chelsea to AS Roma.

Verona, possibly encouraged by veteran striker Luca Toni's scoring achievements last season, brought in 35-year-old Mexico defender Rafael Marquez and former Argentina forward Javier Saviola, 33, while 34-year-old Mali international Seydou Keita, once at Barcelona, joined AS Roma.

Meanwhile, fallen European giants AC Milan, who missed out on Europe after finishing eighth in Serie A last season, signed misfiring Chelsea striker Fernando Torres after they allowed maverick forward Mario Balotelli to join Liverpool.

SPRINGBOARD CLUBS

Milan supporters have become used to seeing their club sign players who have struggled elsewhere, including Michael Essien who joined last year.

Then, they also brought back Kaka for a second stint in an attempt to revive his career, a move known locally as "re-heated soup."

Kaka had won the World Player of the Year award during his first stint at the club and then moved to Real Madrid, where he never found his best form.

Not surprisingly, his return to Milan was less impressive than his first spell.

Clubs in countries such as Portugal and the Netherlands seem to have accepted their fate to act as springboards for players moving between Latin America, Eastern Europe or Africa and Europe's biggest clubs.

Colombians James Rodriguez and Radamel Falcao sharpened their teeth at Porto, making it their first stop in Europe following moves from South America, while compatriots Jackson Martinez and Juan Quintero are still at the club.

Italian clubs, however, appear to be unsure if they should concentrate on developing young talent or sign players with some experience.

Milan, for example, have been promising to focus on youth, yet sold 19-year-old Bryan Cristante, one of their brightest prospects, to Benfica hours before Monday's transfer deadline expired.

MOST EXPENSIVE

Serie A’s most expensive transfer window deal was 21-year-old Argentine Juan Iturbe, who joined Roma from Verona for 22 million euros (17.53 million pound).

Roma, last season's runners-up, were by far the biggest spenders. They splashed out 58 million euros, but also raked in 26 million by selling defender Mehdi Benatia to Bayern Munich, double the fee paid to Udinese for the Moroccan a year ago.

Despite missing out on Sanchez and Falcao, Juventus did quite well in the transfer window, if only because they managed to hold on to midfielders Paul Pogba and Arturo Vidal when some of Europe’s richest clubs had shown interest.

French teenager Kingsley Koman could prove an inspirational signing after joining on a free transfer from Paris St Germain.

Napoli gambled on qualifying for the Champions League group stage and their playoff defeat by Athletic Bilbao ended their hopes of any big signings, leaving Rafael Benitez’s team facing an uncertain season.

Inter Milan, in their first full season since being taken over by Indonesian business tycoon Erik Thohir, spent a modest 12 million euros, two thirds of that on Chile defender Gary Medel. Neighbours Milan spent almost exactly the same.

Chievo, Cesena, Atalanta, Sampdoria, Parma and Genoa all spent under 10 million euros, according to the website Transfermarkt.de, and promoted Empoli spent nothing at all.

(Writing by Brian Homewood in Berne; Editing by Tim Collings)

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