Italian defender Federico Balzaretti is being sold by Palermo, because that’s what Palermo does. People like Edinson Cavani and Simon Kjaer do well there and then they’re sold on. After Balzaretti featured for Italy at Euro 2012 – capitalizing on his ascension to being one of the best left backs in Serie A – it’s time for him to go, too. He’ll likely go for $5-$7 million.
The question is where he’ll end up, the speculation reminding me of why we should all be thankful Great Britain is hosting the Olympics. For English-language consumers, London’s usually the place where inane transfer gossip originates, but with England’s main daily newspapers distracted by the summer games, transfer rumor insanity it at a minimum. We can barely get a Robin van Persie update when, three months ago, it looked like the striker’s potential move from Arsenal would define the summer.
Italy’s papers haven’t been as distracted, which is why Balzaretti’s been linked with so many clubs. Napoli seemed close to the 30-year-old’s signature, with Milan rumored to be lurking. Some wrote Paris Saint-Germain was in frame, an obligatory link.
Over the last 48 hours, things have swung, with Napoli owner Aurelio De Laurentiis claiming his club had been snubbed. Did Milan snare Balzarretti? Surprisingly, according to De Laurentiis, it was Roma that got him, though nothing’s been confirmed.
The surprise is born from Roma’s 2011-12 finish. An up-and-down spring left Roma outside of Europa League, the Giallorossi eventually parting ways with coach Luis Enrique. With Europe-qualified clubs in for him, Balzaretti’s Roma choice seems strange. Italian news outlet ANSI explains the choice is motivated by personal reasons, with Roma allowing Balzaretti to be near family.
The Balzaretti signing would be part of an active if relatively quiet Roma summer. Last year, the club’s new regime brought in Pablo Osvaldo, Miralem Pjanic, Erik Lamela, Maarten Stekelenburg and Gabriel Heinze. This year, Michael Bradley, Leandro Castan, Panagiotis Tachtsidis, and Mattia Destro have been added – a series of lower profile, less expensive additions.
While he’s five years older than Bradley and Castan, Balzaretti’s potential buy fits that understated mold. Last summer was the window of eight-figure deals. This year it’s a few million here, a few million there, in the hope of finding value.